Making Of 'The Passage'

I am going to write about some texturing tips I use when working under my short film "The Passage" In this title-image I used only one texture, put on simple plane object. No lights, no highly detailed objects, only one good texture. "The Passage" is a computer animated short film showing simple life story of a small robot-ball.

This robot will travel trough huge artificial world, build by other robot. This small ball needs to collect 5 symbols which will finally create a code. Each symbol can be gathered inside one big chamber. Every chamber differs from another...
As you can imagine, this is a kind of game which robots are taking part in.

But let's get back to technical stuff. I will describe you how I work, when I need to texture a very specific scene. Like this one.

This is a mid-detailed scene showing a corridor. Corridors are very important in my film, because they're connecting chambers. Every corridor (like every chamber) has its own unique architecture. This one guides our hero to "Chamber Of The Disliked Machine". As you can see, there are a lot of pipes, wires and other metal stuff.

Texturing walls and ground

When I need to texture objects like walls or ground I must focus only on their front. Why? I simply need rendered image of "front view" as a background of the texture.

This method is very similar to "Render to texture" Tool from 3ds max.

First you need to put a simple texture (in my example, one image from Total Textures CDs). Repeat the texture as many times as you need, and then render the object in high resolution (higher resolution gives youmore possibilities to paint more details).

Next, using Adobe Photosop (or any other similar program) crop your rendered image to your needs.

Now there's the part which I like the most - texture painting. Using many various layers, brushes and additional images I create my wall-texture. When I finish painting I save my work as a simple JPG file. And my texture is almost done. "Almost" because I need to create "dirt masks", "bump and glossiness masks" by modifying original texture.

Remember that every texture has its own history and destiny. Do not waste good texture by adding too many dirt masks, scratches or colours. More: I never use new layers in full saturated colors. It's better to paint too dark texture than too bright!

Then I just put my new texture onto my wall-object using simple "Plane UVW mapping cordinates". Here is the final effect.

Using the same simple and quick technique I create textures on ground. The ground is modelled by several box objects. That's why I need to crop final big texture onto several smaller and save them as separate JPG files.

How professional textures can be helpful

Before I take you to the next step of texturing, I'll write some words about using image textures. Every part of CG work is important: modelling, animating, light/camera placement, texture/maps making or scripting. All that consists on your work precision and experience. Without good drawing techniques you won't create a good looking texture. But not only standard techniques are important. Good reference materials sometimes can save your life or time. I can't even imagine how hard would it be for me to create good looking texture without reference-images. 3DTotal gives you an unbelievable collection of textures and reference-images. When I start working over the story and storyboard - together I colect texture images: spending hours wandering with my digital camera, trying to find e.g. a really good sample of rusted metal.

When I'm using Total Textures I've got every texture I need at hand. They are big, clean and seamless,gathered in thematical catalogues. Dirt maps! They are awesome! I can't image my work without them. They put my textures into higher level of looking.

Faking obiect details

Low-poly objects Vs. Highly detailed. Low-res textures Vs. big ones. Where they are need to use or when they are need to by replaced. For these quastion I try to answer according to my work. When I start to work on new scene I always try to model with so much details as it is possible. Then after camera placing, (according to storyborad). I decide where I need to place low-poly obiects, and where high-resolution meshes are nedded. Creating high-res textures depend on how much details I create on obiect. Lets see on this example of model of light-lamp

First, I model obiect using many ideas from the concept scetch. When the modeling is done, I attach the simple "UVW Mapping" and create simple texture. Inside "TotalTextures metal section", there are many of greate this kind of textures. Clean, dirt, with rust or paint on it. I pick a simple,clean alluminium-like image. Next, I put my texture/image onto my model. Then using "Front View" I render high-resolution image.
Now, all I need is to have fun with Photoshop program.
When my painting is done, I go back to 3d program, and create my final shader, which be placed onto low-poly obiect.

Details (cables/wires/pipes)

I close this tutorial describing you how you can easily texture multiple objects using the same image.

All we need is to create a simple texture using "composite" map. In my example only one "main map image" was used and only two "dirt images" Changing the 'visibility' value of each map gives you endless possibilities. Also good effects can be achvied by changing "UVW Mapping" modyfier values; like modyfing "Gizmo's" Lenght/Width/Height or UVW Tiling.

Believe it or not, only one texture were used to texture all these pipes and wires.

Bending pipes (technical tips)

Using simple Create/Shapes/Line tool create a 3-dimensional form
(working in perspective view are most efficient).

Now, select all vertexes except first and last. If you have got a closed shape, select all vertexes. Using Fillet tool, smooth your sharp edges. At the end at in "Rendering" panel (we are still in "spline modify" tab panel) activate; Rendering, General Mapping Coords. and Display Render Mesh options. Activating General Mapping Coords will gives you a proper mapping placement. It is very usefull specially when you have got a quite twisted or bended shapes.


...after first rendering

...the scene after "quick post", ready to add characters and some animation test

In this tutorial I tried to described you how I work under texturing. Mesh-obiects are connected with texture making process. They are strongy involved in texture final look. Changing model attract changing texture.This connection works in both way. Creating proper textures makes your scene not just looking good, but it makes your scene look more friendly to viewers eye. Good texture can convince viewer or cheat him.

Thank You all for reading my text, please feel free to mail me with any question:

Adam Guzowski

At the end, you have got some shots from the beginning of the film. They are not a jaw-droping shots... but I want you to look at textures and try to figure out, how they were created according to this tutorial ;)

Click to Enlarge images