Making Of 'Battle Toaster' (part 2)

Hey, my name is Daniel and this is the second article about my Battle Toaster. This time I will focus on the texturing process.

When I got my hands on Total Textures I was amazed and full of ideas. I wanted to make a sci-fi toaster in deep space, a dirty toaster on the battle field, remains of a rusty toaster, a killer-toaster covered in blood... It makes a big difference when you don't have to worry about finding or painting the textures from the beginning. I also realized that I can't complete all those projects, so here you will see a Racing Toaster.

This article is divided into 3 main parts: making of, tutorial about texture baking using ambient occlusion and finally some remaking examples.

1. Less is more

I wanted to give the toaster a totally different look, and as I have mentioned before, I had tons of ideas. Finally I decided to make a Racing Toaster. Why? Hmm, maybe because I've never made a 3d car.

Unwrapping

This part I hate, really, really much. Especially in bigger projects with lots of technical parts (just like toasters :D ). I unwrapped manually almost all of the bigger parts and automatically generated some uv's for the smaller ones.

Sadly, I can't give any brilliant unwrapping tips. 3D Max is a bit behind other 3d programs in UV mapping. Blender, for example, has a really nice algorithm: LSCM Unwrap, which has performed really nice when I was testing it. I haven't used it here though. The process of exporting and importing everything would take some time, and more importantly - it would break the instaces of meshes.

One tip I can give is to use pelt seams. It helps divide mesh into pieces and organize things on uv even if you don't plan on using pelt mapping.

Useful links

http://www.luxinia.de/index.php/ArtTools/3dsmax - the LSCM plugin for 3d max, in beta stage, sadly didn't work for me.
http://www.pullin-shapes.co.uk/page2.htm - a really nice UV tool, its cooperates with Maya, but it can also be used as a stand alone tool into which you can import models.

Texturing

I wanted to keep a simple color scheme for Toaster. I was sure that main color would be white, but couldn't decide on a secondary one; the choice was between orange, red and purple. After browsing through Total Tex vol 8 I decided to use purple vinyls.

Almost everything is textured with those two:

I was amazed how easily I could get new shapes from them in photoshop:

Detail of leg texture:

Textured leg

To check out the Total Tex alpha maps and bump maps I decided to put some dirt on bottom part of legs:

Detail of bottom leg texture (color map + bump map):

I also used the bump map in Reflect slot to make the dirt non reflective. I simply inverted it and adjusted brightness a bit with Color Map. And that's the final picture of the Racing Toaster:

2. The occlusion trick

This part will be something more of a tutorial about using ambient occlusion and texture baking during the texturing process. Everything here is done in vray, but I'm quite sure that other renderes also have the options to render AO and bake textures.

Firstly, the basics

In my previous making of ( http://67.15.36.49/team/Tutorials_2/Battle_Toaster/battle_toaster07.asp ) I've shown you how to make an ambient occlusion pass. This is the base for this tutorial. You need to put the ambient occlusion material on the whole model.

Here http://www.spot3d.com/vray/help/150R1/tutorials_baking_part1.htm is the tutorial I've used to learn about texture baking in vray. I think the tutorial is well written so I won't repeat the material covered in it :) You need to focus on the "Preparing Objects for Baking the Textures" part with one very important difference. If you want to use the baked texture in Photoshop you will need to make UV manually, so that it bakes into a nice layout. To avoid using automatically generated mapping coordinates you need to check "Use existing channel" in the mapping coordinates section.

Ok, these were the basics, but.. what is it all about, why not use the good old textporter?

Well, in complicated technical models that consist of lots of parts it's often hard to paint a precise texture. You need to check where parts are touching each other and be careful not to miss those spots on the texture. And here the ambient occlusion comes in. Thanks to this mechanism, you will see where things are close to each other and where they connect. Let me explain this on the following example:

This is the texture of a minigun hull (I've changed 100% black to 100% white). Thanks to AO I can now clearly distinguish the barells (1), the bottom support (2), the gun lock (3) and other parts. Using these outlines I don't have any problems with aligning textures on the model.

Another, more obvious use of the ambient occlusion outline for texturing is to create dirt maps out of them (or to use them as masks for real dirt textures).

As you can see, even though this method of generating UV layouts takes more time than usual (because of baking the AO outlines), it is possible to create your textures with greater precision.

3. The more the better

Ok, here I will go a bit freestyle... As I said at the beginnig of the article, I had lots of ideas for remaking of the toaster. Here I will show toaster hull and minigun hull textured in different ways to show you how different model can look thanks to textures.

First, the old and a bit rusty kitchen toaster hull. As you can see I've used AO as a base for dirt map. All the textures used here came from Dirt & Graffiti DVD:

And here the sci-fi minigun hull, where I've used maps from Science Fiction CD:

As you can see, there are lots of posibilities. Maybe in the fututre I will make another toaster... and another... and another... :)

And that's it, I hope you liked this article and learned something new.
Again I want to thank 3Jane for making this text readable :)