UPDATE: Pattern resources below:
First of all, Happy new year! And for those just new to the forums, welcome aboard. I only recently got back from a break and the amount of talent here has just skyrocketed!
So just like Dragomir is in charge of Concept Artists, both Tynew and i will be managing all those foolish enough to want to texture an asset.
I myself am doing architecture and environment pieces, do direct all things related to that to me. Tynew has a good working knowledge of hardsurface and character art, so anything related to that go buzz him.
We will be responsible for dividing out tasks that need doing, taking any questions that you guys might have, as well as providing both technical and artistic advice. One thing to note is that, given the amount of assets that need completing and the amount of time we have, we will not be able to give one-on-one tutorials. We will however do our best to problem solve and point you in the right direction.
First point of call, before any work can begin, will be to gather the current finished textures and organise them into a folder layout. I will set up a dropbox that will store these textures. The folder layout will go as follows:
- Group (i.e ‘Iron’)
- Sub_Group (i.e ‘Iron Weapons’)
- Name of Asset (i.e ‘Iron Hammer’)
- Texture maps go here (i.e Diffuse, Normal, Specular, Gloss, Height)
Access to the dropbox will currently be only for myself, Tynew and the devs. This is just to avoid any joe blog throwing his/her texture in. As the project progresses this year, you can PM me to update the textures as we go.
I will contact the devs to get a list of finished assets. Or you could pm me directly so i can get the textures off you. Either way works.
With the help of you budding texture artists, we are going to build up a library of textures for us to draw from. For environment and architectural pieces we will create a repository of 100% custom made tileable textures. Texture optimisation is key to make sure that the game plays at a reasonable frame rate. Certain building sets will have particular materials that are repeated between them so exploiting this is critical.
Characters, creatures, weapons and armor, items and props will also follow the same basic principals.
I’m new and i would like to help, where do i sign up?
First thing to do would be contact either of us with either a sample of a textured asset or your portfolio. Once we can assess your skill level and your style, we can then assign you to an available job that suits.
Its probably worth noting, not to be offended if we choose to prioritise a more experienced artist to do a piece, over someone more new. Texture work can, at times, get messy so if we feel like you aren't quite up to scratch, we will try our best to make sure you are at the right level before we assign you anything.
We are also going to give priority to those that purely want to come on board as just texture artists. As of now we have a huge influx of modellers, but barely any dedicated texture artists.
Once you pass the screening process, we can put your details up in the Worksheet and begin to assign tasks.
What if i can model as well as texture?
Well Mr Fancy Pants, we would still love to have you on board. Simply run the textures through quality control (either myself or Tynew) and we will just add your texture to the library.
The Texture Pipeline
There is no one ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ pipeline.
Many studios/artists have widely ranging methods and techniques that they use to achieve their desired effect, be that textures, models or level design. Use the programs and methods you are most comfortable with to finish an asset, but don't be afraid to try learn something new. No one here expects you to be fantastic off the bat.
Our main concern with this project is Visual Consistency, Quality and Aesthetic. Hopefully, during the beginning portion of this year, we can develop a small core team of texture artists that can work well enough together to produce textures to a high quality.
To maintain a consistent look we will need to refine ‘prototype’ models for look dev. This might mean a single iron weapon, or a telvanni house. Once the textures are spot on for that one particular asset, we can then sign it off as done and use that as reference for rest. Particular groups of people might want to specialise and focus on certain assets.
A quick run down on texturing.
1: UV’s and Baking Maps:
- Many texture artists prefer to UV map the model’s themselves rather than let the modellers do it. I prefer this method myself. A certain amount of control and workflow efficiency can be achieved if you are familiar with how the UVs are laid out. There are many stand alone UV mapping programs, the best being Headus UV Layout. Roadkill for maya is excellent too. then of course there's the built in UV mapping methods with any given 3D package.
- Keep in mind how you UV a model too. Vertex count can be just as important as texture size and poly count for performance.
- Baking maps is another thing that i like to do myself. Both Topogun and xNormal are excellent programs for baking maps, the latter being free (and arguably the best thing since sliced bread). Typical maps to bake out:
- Ambient Occlusion
- Cavity + Edge highlight
At this point i would test the model out in game with its normals. All engines treat textures differently. You might find that the normal might be too exaggerated or not strong enough. Find that sweet spot.
2: Photoshop, Zbrush, Mudbox, Mari, Crazybump + others.
- I personally never use zbrush to paint my assets. This is just a personal preference of mine, and i do know many artists who do use zbrush extensively to color their models. My prefered method is to texture and asset in mudbox. I will load in the low Resolution model and import all my baked maps as layers. I find this the best way to preview how the model might look in game, and i can adjust for that.
- When i create tileable textures, photoshop is my weapon of choice. In fact, for final adjustments and tweaks i always edit my maps in photoshop. Mudbox will only get you 80-85% of the way there.
- I almost always paint textures at a higher resolution than they need to be. 2k is often large enough, then i will downsize it to the correct size. Just remember you can always downsize a map, but you can never up-res it. NO!
- Not all the textures need to be at the same size for a model to look good. Nor do some models need certain textures! Normal maps can be quite taxing on the engine, so they often can be scaled by half and still look good. A good Diffuse can be all thats needed in some cases.
- Crazybump is a fantastic program to generate normals and displacement maps from a photo source. It can also be used to blend finer normal details that you might not be able to achieve in your sculpting or modelling package.
- i also don’t expect many people (if any) here to use Mari. But for those who do, mad respect. I’m currently teaching myself and it's very rewarding.
3. Test, Test, Test!
- As texture artists, we are responsible for the final visual look of everything. Most of the time thats 99.9 percent of what's on the screen. So constantly check your model out in game, and do it as early as you can. This will solve a lot of headaches you might have later on in the process. Create a dialogue between other artists. If you are working on model, let the modeller and the concept artist know of your progress. They will appreciate seeing an asset they have created further come to life. Not only that, but they will get familiar with the way you work and vice versa - the more you know about the entire process the better.
Away with all this technical speak! Creating beautiful work should always come before technicality. Get as much feedback as possible from the community here as possible, and don't be afraid to ask for feedback! Share ideas, techniques, tips and inspiration - remember no one here is perfect - myself included.
Now get texturing you lazy bastards!
Reference and inspiration!
I have put up some environment tutorials here:
Technical speak! Some good information here:
Good overviews of a texturing process:
These DOTA art and texturing guides cover some good fundamentals. Highly reccommend reading them:
Vertex magazine has some nice tutorials by naughty dog artists. Bradford Smith has a brilliant technique that he uses to create tileables:
And countless others. Let me know if theres any resources that might be handy to anyone, and i'll add them in.