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UV Sets in Maya

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Date Added: 9th December 2009
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Linking to UV Sets with the UV Relationship Editor

The purpose of this demo is to provide an educational framework for two common uses of the UV-Centric, UV linking, Relationship Editor.

First of all, a little context: Why would we want to go through this trouble of establishing UV sets? What are some of the common uses? And, what is a UV set?

Well, in general, UV sets are a function inside Maya which allow for the easy selection of UVs. One of the most common uses of this set doesn't actually need the usage of our Relationship Editor since the layouts are set simply for easy selection of different groups. Since in this method as well, textures are simply assigned to two different selections of faces (selections made easier with the UV sets), we aren't assigning multiple textures to the same selection of faces (which will require the relationship editor). As we will see in our second and third sections, the Relationship Editor will allow us to assign multiple textures to the same surface area.

Creating UV Sets that don't Need the Relationship Editor

UV sets are created for the purpose of applying separate texture maps to different parts of a model, often as seen below, with the case of game-ready characters for a head and a body. Some game engines specifically request this setup, in fact. To establish UV sets, simply layout your model's UVs in two groups, as seen below in the animated GIF, overlapping each other. The first thing we need to do is make sure that our UVs are in the correct spot before creating UV sets. Not doing so will cause improper texturing later on.

Select the first group of faces, in this case the body, and choose "Copy UVs to UV set > Copy to New UV Set" option under the Polygons menu in the UV texture editor; call it Body. Now, you will notice a new UV set has been created which can be seen under the UV Sets menu in the UV texture editor.

In this menu, return to map 1; you will again see both parts. Select the other group, in this case the head. Again, assign the head's faces to a new UV set called head.

You can toggle back and forth at any time with the UV Sets menu. Use these isolations to assign materials directly to the faces of the model (Fig.01 - 03).

Fig. 01

Fig. 02

Fig. 03

Using the Relationship Editor when Mapping for Games

One of the most common uses of the UV Set Relationship Editor is to allow multiple maps for texture optimization. For instance, imagine this situation ... To get the largest possible texture to model ratio for my colour map I lay out my UVs like we see below. This layout has overlapping UVs for the entire body which allows me to make a texture twice as large in the same space since the model is symmetrical. I have called this UVset "Half". Note: My textures for this demo are rather uncompleted, but they serve this demo well enough.

Also, the model being used in this demo is courtesy Pixologic. The photos used for the colour texture in this demo are courtesy The colour texturing, ZBrush sculpt and normal map have been created by me, Andrew Klein (Fig.04 - 05).

Fig. 04

Fig. 05

Well, this presents an interesting problem, because if I want to sculpt my character and create a normal map, I am going to need to make sure that none of my UVs overlap, as this will cause my model render strangely. For instance, if the normal map has bumps which deform and push the surface of the character to the left on the left side, it should go right on the right side to remain symmetrical. However, it will still go left, causing one whole half of the model to render looking "inside-out" or flipped.

Another problem that arises is creating a light map for your game engine. If you are trying to cache Final Gather or even shadows, you are going to need non-overlapping UVs. However, for the purposes of this demo, we are going to return to the normal mapping situation. So to enable the creation of the normal map, I have to layout my UVs in a separate UV set a second time - this time with no overlap. I have called this UVset "Map1" (Fig.06 - 07).

Fig. 06

Fig. 07

continued on next page >

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Frans on Thu, 03 April 2014 8:57pm
Andrew Klein the one who made video about extrusion method to modeling head and female torso, i wanted to thank you so much, and now this tutorial too, thank you :D
Ben on Sun, 19 February 2012 12:51am
Hey! Thanks for the excellent tutorial, it was a great help/ I'm having one issue that I can't seem to figure out, though. I created a separate UV map for the body and head of my model as described, but when I go to apply the Material (a file I painted in photoshop), it applies it to the faces as they appear in the original map, not the new set I made for the body. What am I missing? Thanks again!
Veronica on Wed, 01 February 2012 10:28am
I just started to use sets. No I have a miner problem with adding a face that I missed. Is there a simple way to add a face to one of the sets without redoing it?
Artislife7 on Tue, 13 December 2011 10:19pm
Thankyou! This is just what I was looking for! Now to try it :-)
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