Fall of Spartacus: Texturing

I ran into a rather large problem during my UVW mapping. After finishing the UV’s for all my meshes, I exported them back to zbrush, only to find that the UV’s were broken. When I tried to render out my normal maps, I was met with this issue:

As you can see, there is a lot of faceting going on there. On a properly working UV mapped model, this would be completely smooth, only broken up by the seams I had put in place.

Now this faceting did not cause any issues with textures created in photoshop, but they completely broke any maps generated from zbrush. Naturally, this turn of events was fairly catastrophic.

This was a new problem I had never seen before, but I had recently upgraded from Zbrush 3.5 to Zbrush4 and from Max 2009 to Max 2010, so I assumed the problem would be caused by one of those.

I did a lot of research on the problem, and located forum threads where people reported similar issues on sites like Zbrushcentral, but none of these people had found any solutions, so it was up to me to figure it out for myself.

After a lot of testing and changing of software, I managed to solve the problem by rolling back to Max 2009, merging in the assets from the Max 2010 file, clearing all UVW information and redoing the UVW mapping, then exporting with Max 2009. Once in Zbrush4, instead of replacing the subdivision1 model with the UVW mapped base mesh, I imported the new meshes separately and projected the model information on the new meshes. That eventually solved my UVW faceting issue.

Unfortunately, this whole process delayed me by almost 3 weeks.

I never found out exactly what caused the issue or where it occurred, but as far as I can tell, the problem has something to do with the export process from Max to Zbrush. I found a way that works, and I will stick to that from now. I’ve also changed my workflow to include regular UV tests when I start the UVW mapping phase from now on, so I can catch any potential issues like this much earlier.

For my diffuse texturing, I created base textures in Zbrush using polypainting, and further refined them in photoshop.

I played with the idea of using mental ray materials and relying on their properties for armor pieces and skin. However I decided against it based on the fact that I am a games artist, and I want to work within the confines of what I would usually do for a game. So I decided that I would rely on diffuse, specular and normal maps for my texturing.


About Nate Fury

Character artist, games designer, and fighting game enthusiast. Follow me on Twitter @NateHawke and add me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/furytrickster My personal blog site can be found at www.pttogames.com

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