General Texturing Techniques
This particular scene was designed purely to promote the upgrade to the Fantasy collection in the Total Textures product range.
The idea behind the image was to visualise a modest interior or entranceway within a Medieval / fictional setting that would convey how some of the textures could be utilised.
As the final render was to be reasonably small and had to be done quickly I deliberately kept the content simple.
The first step was to start to build the scene and ensure it was not too complex in order that the attention would be focused on the textures and not the geometry (Fig.01).
Once I had a rough notion of where things would be I set up a camera and made sure that the image aspect of the final render was correct. I then turned on Show Safe Frame which can be found in the menu by right clicking the viewport label. This is very helpful when you only wish to concentrate on areas that will actually be visible as it only shows the part of the scene which will be rendered (Fig.02).
It is a useful technique which proves very efficient when you have time limitations ( and who doesn't these days ! ) but there is one more component which can be added into the equation before any texturing is done - the lighting. I often find that setting up the lighting at this stage is also an invaluable way of filtering out areas that may not need so much attention. Off course all of this only really applies to a still and not an animation but that is fine in this case (Fig.03).
The key light in the scene which represents the sun is a Target Direct light with Ray Traced Shadows turned on, and whose target can be seen angled into the room via the window (1 in Fig.01). I also added two Omni lights to show some bounce light from the window (2 in Fig.01). The lower left one was used to highlight the shields with Shadow Maps enabled and the other to emphasize the steps a little more using Ray Traced Shadows and a very low intensity (0.3) I used Mental Ray as the renderer and by surrounding the scene within a self illuminated light dome I could utilise the Final Gather functions under the Indirect Illumination tab in the Render Scene Dialogue to simulate the sunlight filling the room by way of Diffuse Bounces (Fig.04) You can see the final result in Fig.03 and with these settings now established it was time to begin the texturing.
When texturing simple scenes such as this for a small output size I often cut corners with the mapping/unwrapping and decide to add the finer details in Photoshop afterwards but for the purposes of this tutorial I shall unwrap the various pieces of gemoetry and use dirt maps to localise the detail where necessary.
As this was a promotional render it did not matter about optimizing texture space etc. so I did not waste time fitting all the unwraps into minimized templates. The main maps used for the scene in the end were the floor, two walls, sides of the steps and the steps themselves. I usually start with the largest areas first - the floor in this case - and by using the geometry in the scene as a guide I placed dirt onto the texture where the edges of the staircase meet the floor (red lines in Fig.05).
Other areas where dirt would be apparent are marked in green. The way I achieved this was to paste in the dirt layer, shift the hue towards a brown and then set the blending mode and opacity to Overlay 50% (Fig.06).
The main focus of the texturing was the staircase as this was the most prominent component in the scene. In Fig.07 you can see the final texture outlined in black and the various maps that were used to create it. The main part was made from the stonework on the left but I made a colour change to provide a mortar as opposed to the appearance of an outer wall. I took the stone edging from another image to add some interest along the left corner edge and then applied my dirt areas along the base of the steps. You can see when the map is set to Normal mode how it appears almost black but when changed to Soft Light how it conveys the appearance of damp and grime.
The other two areas worth mentioning are those highlighted in green. Here I overlayed parts of stone from another texture in the collection to break up the consistency somewhat. (see Fig.08) You can see now how the floor is better integrated with the steps by way of the dirt.
For the steps themselves I added both a dirt and highlights layer to emphasize where the light catches the edges. In Fig.09 you can compare the texture with the render to see how the dirt and highlights (set to Soft Light) help define the geometry better. The highlights are usually described via the specular map but I find that a subtle emphasis like this on the colour map helps when used in conjunction with the specular map.
The window wall also requires a similar treatment - there is the doorway edge, the corner of the room and the sections next to the steps as well as the window itself. In Fig.10 you can see the green tracing of the rough staircase angle as well as the window sill level. I have painted a highlight along the corner where the doorway is, again set to Soft Light and also along the vertical edges of the window. The red line denotes the dirt in the corner of the room.
When the texture is applied we can see the updated result in Fig.11. You can see here how all the dirt helps bind the geometry together.
The two shields on the floor are planar mapped and both use a colour, bump and specular map, respectively as seen from left to right in Fig.12.
The other part of the scene which is yet to be done is the window. This will be partially bleached out by the light but still requires some attention as it will be a focul point. In Fig.13 you can see the vertical highlights that have been added once again and the two parts of stonework that have been "borrowed" from another texture to add some interest.
Fig.14 shows the final result with some post production in Photoshop. I rendered out a separate Specular, AO and Volumetric pass which I combined with the 3d render in order to complete the image. You will notice the specular highlights on the studded door compared to Fig.11 and also how the Omni emphasizes the shield and its specular map. You can also see how I have softened the corner of the wall in the doorway to improve the worn edge.
The image is by no means perfected but given its purpose and the time constraints I feel it uses the new Fantasy textures upgrade to good effect and shows how a simple scene can be transformed by a few choice textures.
To see more by Richard Tilbury, check out Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 4
Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 5
Digital Painting Techniques: Volume 7
Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop Elements
Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop
Photoshop for 3D Artists
and Prime - The Definitive Digital Art Collection