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Unwrapping in Zmodeler

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i recently realised that many zmod users dont seem to know what unwrapping is and how to do it best so i thought id make a little tut.

this tutorial is for advanced zmod users, im not going to explain how to uv map, im merely explaining my method of unwrapping and skinning

i am using zmod 1.7, its no problem if you use zmod2 though, as the concept is the same.


what is unwrapping?


unwrapping is the process of "unfolding" your actual model so you can skin it most efficiently, in max this works a lot better but for all the people who dont


want/cant learn max have to do it in zmod which is a bit more of a hassle.


have you ever seen weapon models where only the sides were properly textured but the rest was just blurry stripes?


heres an example (R*´s colt): user posted image


this is when the author cant be bothered to unwrap his mesh and proves bad quality.


max users usually unwrap, export their unwrapped mesh as a picture which they then use in photoshop (or w/e paint tool) to skin on.

zmod users usually make a skin, then "unwrap" (or something like that tounge.gif) and assing the uv.

in my method im unwrapping and skinning the model at the same time, which proved to be the best method for myself.



lets say we have to texture this jetski model:


user posted image


the first thing we need is a plan of how we are going to cut it into parts, you best imagine a texture for yourself and place each part on it as you think would be


best, i have cut the model into these parts:


user posted image


note: the different colors dont releate to each other, ive only colored parts differently to mark where things are going to be cut to be laid out on the texture.


also, im only doing this step to illustrate, i dont color my models like that of course, its just for the tutorial.


you would probalby want the top of the jetski to be the most detailed part (using more pixels than all other parts) and a good basic rule is to start texturing with


the biggest part, in this case we will start with the top part (yellow).


hide all the faces except the ones you need (i had all colored parts as seperate objects because i did most of the normals before texturing), you will have


something like this:


user posted image


were going to texture it from the top, this means in the end we will have an uv mesh in top down view.


bah im writing this too detailed, ill speed it up a little, advanced users should understand easily..


heres what you do: (note: in this tut i have sel and mul ALWAYS selected)


-select all faces

-assign them to the default material

-click with "assign uv" in the top view


from now on youre going to work in the uv view.

we need to flatten our uv mesh, do this:


-switch to vertices mode and select em all

-choose "modify/align/axis" tool and apply it on the z axis (user posted image)


what happened is the following:


user posted image


this is very important because if you have different heights of vertices in your uv mesh your texture could get stretched.


now we switch to photoshop where you do this:


-create a new image (ctrl+n) with 10 pixels width and 10 pixels height

-choose the pencil tool with yellow as your foreground and green as your background color

-zoom in and paint this:


user posted image


then go:


-edit/define pattern and give it a name

-make a new image in the size of the texture youre planning for your model, in my case 1024^2

-go edit/fill and select the pattern you just made


you end up with a green/yellow checkered texture which you save as bmp or tga to use in zmod.


go back to zmod and load the checkered texture in the default material (you might have to do "view/textures management/reload all textures" for it to show up


in the uv view).


now our goal is to get an evenly checkered texture on the actual model mesh, the pattern serves as a guide.


for example the faces marked in red are not square but stretched, we want them to be square though, like the faces marked with blue:


user posted image


now comes the big uv mesh editing which can take a while, just have the 3d view beside you to check every vertex movement you make.

take a set of faces with perfect squares as the source, then try to adjust all the other faces/vertices so the square pattern matches the one of the source.

Edited by rebel_36

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you can ignore these lines:


user posted image


as they are only that thick because the texture repeats at that point.


user posted image


i have chosen the faces marked blue as source/reference faces for the pattern, ive selected all vertices except the most inner ones and now im just scaleing


them to widen the mesh.


i have ended up with this:


user posted image


i have a pretty even pattern all over the body which means all vertices are at the place they should be to provide good mapping.


just 1 odd thing...


user posted image


the pattern is extremely stretched on those 2 faces and if you look at the uv view you know why, its because 1 of their vertices is already being used by


anyother face which we cant move, otherwise that one is streched... so in short we have too few vertices and thus need to split the mesh at that point.


now theres 2 way we could fix that, the long way would be to go back to the actual model and start detaching faces and reuniteing vertices and maybe if youre


unlucky even redo the normals which would take ages.


heres the short way:


-switch your uv mesh to objects level and delete it

-in the top view or whereever you only select the faces that have bad mapping and "assign uv"


your mapping object will show up again as you left it in the uv view, even if there arent all faces visible.


now you simply move the vertices that were previously also used by the other faces, this is the process where you split the faces and give each their own


vertices for the uv mesh.


this might be a bit complicated to understand just by text so i made a step by step picture for it:


user posted image


i have other places in the mesh that need fixing like that but its the same procedure so ill just leave it away and go to the next step.

lets assume we finally have the whole top body with a perfect pattern, now its time to "export" our uv mesh "the zmod way" ;P

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-unload the pattern texture from the default material

-open ms paint go to image/attributes and make its size as big as the texture you plan for your model, in my case its 1024^2

-cascade the paint window (means you make it not fullscreen)

-go back to zmod to the uv view and zoom in/out until you think your uv mesh could fit into the paint window if you would print screen it, because thats what


you do now.


before you print screen your uv mesh though, move it beside the square that usually contains the texture so you only have white underneath the mesh, i even


had to rotate my uv mesh by 90° because my monitors height isnt great enough for 1024 pixels (in zmod anyway).

heres a screen that shows how you compare if your uv mesh fits the size of your texture, you will want to get the biggest uv mesh as possible onto your texture


so you dont waste pixels for nothing in the end:


user posted image


-now minimize the paint window and hit print screen

-go back to the paint window and paste the zmod screen, now get rid of the lines of the local axis if there is one by using the pencil tool with white color

-select only your uv mesh, copy it, go to photoshop, open a new image with black background sized as your texture (mine is 1024^2) and paste


you should have this now:


user posted image


(of course i scaled it down, dont wanna post the whole 1024^2 texture ^^)


-go select/color range, click on a white part of the picture and adjust the slider so it only selects all white pixels (i usually have my slider at 144 for this)

-all the white pixels are selected now

-hit backspace to delete them

-hit ctrl+d to deselect everything

-hit ctrl+i to invert the colors of the layer

-move the wireframe to the desired place on your texture


now you have a black background with a white wireframe from which you can work on to make your skin, you best rename the layer to "wireframe top" and


always keep it for reference when skinning.

theres only 1 thing left to do:


-while still on the wireframe layer, use the "magic wand" tool and click somewhere outside of the wireframe

-go select/inverse

-go select/modify/expand and choose 5 pixels

-go select/save selection and give it an accurate name, i would name it "top uv"


this last step is pretty important and useful as you will from now on always have the selection by hand and you can load it anytime by doing select/load


selection, it is important that you expand your selection by about 5 pixels and start your skin from there on because otherwise your uv mesh wont fit your


texture once you want to map it in zmod.


were pretty much done now, just make your skin and once you want to test how it looks on your model you simply save it as a bmp or tga and load it as


texture into zmod, you then only have to move your whole uv mesh to the right place and you will hopefully have perfect mapping, as if it was made in max ;P


user posted image


hope this helped someone, since ive developed this technique ive always used it cause it just gives the most accurate results with zmod, you will thank yourself


that you properly unwrapped your model when it comes to making a new skin for it, but it also helps heaps for the first skin you make as you know exactly


where which pixel will be on the final model smile.gif

Edited by rebel_36

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Nice, looks like a good tut, I'll try it out soon. I have been using a different method, am hoping your method will be faster. If possible, can you rehost images at 550p width or less? That would eliminate scrolling for us dim eyed people running 1024x768. f*ck anyone on 800x600 lol

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nah sry i cba, dont even have laptop inet access atm as im travelling, sydney OWNS! tounge.gif


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Coool smile.gif t3h useful matey! I'll try it out in time for some compo i'm entering smile.gif Hopefully will get good results..cheers!

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Mark Pagliaro

There is a plugin that is free that allows you to export your UV Mapper Data as a .esp file which is openable via PSP7 or Photoshop could save on the numerous prnt screens. That plugin is available here.


Though this tutorial came in really handy for me thanks.

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omfg that plugin is awesome biggrin.gif


can finally export uv maps, thanks so much for that link

Edited by rebel_36

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Lord Molo

I just downloaded the zmodeler and wow.gif

I have absolutely no idea what I am doing. Could someone tell me how to bring a DFF into it and edit it? or at least point me to the proper tutorial.

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Hello, Im really sorry to bump this! Really!

How can I unwrap a wheel to map the threadtexture perfect over a tire?

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