Category Archives: Digital Texturing and Painting

Learning Texturing – Finishing

Heh, I was going to say that this post could be a let-down after what I wrote about the importance of finishing, and then I picked that title.

Well here’s what: I’m no longer going to follow along with the book step by step to texture the buggy character. I am going to finish the book (in fact I’m almost done, will probably finish tonight), and I will try out some techniques it describes that I’m not yet familiar with. But considering all the things I have and want to do I believe it’ll be much more efficient to refer back to the book and use the techniques it teaches directly in my own projects.

If you remember the post I linked above, one of the things I noticed in that Corolla project was that I wasn’t fond of texturing. I want to find out if this really is so or if I just didn’t try hard enough. If I find that I am indeed just not cut for the job, I’ll just accept it and focus on my stronger skills. If it goes the other way, well that will obviously be a plus!

So what this means is that my next project will be much less ambitious in terms of modeling (although it may include some sculpting, which is also somewhat new for me) and will focus mostly on textures. Stay tuned ;)


This post is part of a series on the book Digital Texturing and Painting.
You can find the base post of the series here.

Previous post on the series: The Goggles (Procedural Textures)

Learning Texturing – Goggles

Digital Texturing and Painting

Procedural Textures

I’m back with another instalment of this series, this time using procedural textures to texture the goggles. Despite all the tweaking and tweaking and more tweaking, this was actually more fun than I thought ;) Ready for a truckload of images?

The book actually started with the strap, but since Blender doesn’t have a procedural texture type that more immediately emulates fabric, I left that to the end and went straight to the lens casing. This was supposed to be a dark rubbery material, so using the workhorse of Blender procedurals, Clouds, I went ahead and set the base for it (go ahead and open the images in a new tab if you want, a small part of them is cropped by the blog layout):

But we actually want it to be almost completely covered in sand and dust from the desert, so I used a Blend texture to work as a Stencil, and applied another Clouds texture, this time much more fine, to work as sand and dust. Result:

Then we tackled the leather mask, and what a nice surprise. The author (using an early version of Maya) was cleverly varying the colors on the mask (both on the skin and the cracks) by assigning them to other textures instead of solid colors. I thought this wasn’t possible in Blender and was trying to get the same result by using the method described above (a stencil texture). But then I noticed something I’d never noticed: we have compositing nodes, material nodes, and texture nodes! I immediately started playing with those and achieved a nice very weathered result for the leather:

Here’s the node setup:

Cool stuff huh? Next up were the lenses, which were inspired in bug eyes. I used a Brick Pattern node for these, but the limitations were obvious:

Here’s the node setup (aside from the pattern there’s a noise texture to dirty up the edges of the lenses; unfortunately I wasn’t able to make this work well):

So all that was left was the strap that I mentioned in the beginning of the post. My plan for this was to see if there was something in the Blender Material Repository that I could use, and then figure out how they made it. I actually tried manipulating the Brick Pattern to get something useful, but I failed miserably and reverted back to this plan. I ended up finding a Carbon Fiber material that looked more or less like what I wanted. Turns out it uses the Magic texture type, ha! After a few tweaks, our goggles were done:

After all the experimentation of this and the previous chapters, the next one (on the car body) starts this way:

The car body is an example of how I create 90% of my textures.

Gotta be useful ;) Stay tuned!


This post is part of a series on the book Digital Texturing and Painting.
You can find the base post of the series here.

Previous post on the series: The Face (3D Painting)
Next post on the series: Finishing

Learning Texturing – Face

Digital Texturing and Painting

3D Painting

Heh, the age of the book does show a bit. I guess back then NURBS were all the rage, because up until this chapter the author never mentioned UV unwrapping and I’ve been doing it myself (NURBS come with UVs that you don’t manipulate like you do with polygon meshes). So the first part was actually about how to prepare a polygon mesh for texturing. The second part was more fun: painting textures directly onto the 3D model.

This time we approached texturing the dude’s face by starting with the bump map. Since his skin is supposed to be scaly, it makes sense to draw the scales first anyway. So after firing up Blender’s Texture Painting mode, a lot of wrist flicking ensued:

Just like painting an easter egg. Not that I ever did.

By the way, as you can probably tell I only painted one side, and it was automatically mirrored to the other side. Setting up this mirror isn’t as immediate as in sculpt mode, for example, but this tutorial at BlenderCookie will tell you how to do it. Thanks to Adrian for pointing me to it!

Oh and by the way again, remember to save.  It really is a pain to come back the morning after and realize a lot of work from last night is gone. “But I saved my file!” Yeah, me too. Not the image file though. Saving your blend file (Ctrl-S) does NOT save your image file (Alt-S on the UV/Image Editor)! Funky, I know. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. ;)

Once that was done we took it to Gimp and started the translate-from-Photoshop dance. If we used the current image as a bump map there would be sharp gouges, but we want the scales to be softly bumped. So we applied a couple of filters to get that effect: Gaussian Blur and then Value Propagate (to mimic Photoshop’s Maximum filter). Then for the color map we used a grunge map the author provides and colored it green, masked another brown layer above it to give it a slight variation, and then colored the “cracks” more brown with the help of Channels (yet another thing learned). Taking it back to Blender and playing with the influence values, here is the final result:

Not too shabby, huh?

Once again I do prefer the author’s result, but if I didn’t then probably it would have been me working on those Matrix films, wouldn’t it?

Next up we will look at procedural textures, and something tells me I’ll have to cheat a bit more… but we’ll see!


This post is part of a series on the book Digital Texturing and Painting.
You can find the base post of the series here.

Next post on the series: The Goggles (Procedural Textures)
Previous post on the series: The Tires (Displacement Maps)

Learning Texturing – Tires

Digital Texturing and Painting

Displacement Maps

This one was a little trickier to follow. You see, this book was published in 2002, and apparently they painted displacement maps back then. I’m sure they still do, and in some cases it may very well be a good solution, but from the beginning of the chapter I was feeling weird about painting greyscale shapes on a rectangle that I’d later apply to a torus-ish shape. It just wasn’t intuitive to figure out what the result would be, not to me at least.

Then I also had a hard time, for the first time, to translate things from Illustrator to Inkscape. Mesh gradients, for example, are not implemented in Inkscape (or rather, they are not supported by the SVG standard, so they’re not in Inkscape because of that if I understood correctly). I more or less solved that by feathering edges, but then those got funky when I exported to PNG… and exporting to Gimp isn’t as straightforward as one would expect it to be… so after all these setbacks I realized “hey it’s 2011 – all the times I heard about displacement mapping were related to sculpting and baking the displacement from the hi-res mesh”.

So I gave up on painting and picked up my sculpting brush. I tried (not very hard, I confess) to create a similar effect to what the author envisioned, using symmetry to make my job easier, and then baked the resulting displacement into a map (after getting help from Ben Simonds’ recent tutorial on BlenderCookie). The process is not as intuitive as it could be, but that has recently been solved for Blender 2.58 (due any minute now!) with Bake from Multires. Applying the map got me this:

Sorry for the lousy lighting

So now I had to create a color map. I created a layer of solid brown below the copy of the displacement map, duplicated this displacement layer twice and set them to multiply to get me values of dark brown going to lighter brown, which I then just had to enhance by hand-painting on another layer on top of the others. None of this was described in the pages, which made me realize again how awesome the book is – I already just know these things I didn’t before I started.

Then I duplicated this file, made it black and white, sharpened it, and added scratches and bumps to create a bump map. Final result:

The UVs were pretty stretched and there's a nasty seam there, but I really have to move on now. Better luck next time.

Less exciting this time around, but I learned some useful new stuff and now it’s just a matter of practicing. Oh and a final note: in the middle of a thread in BlenderArtists Ben Dansie suggested what looks like a pretty useful resource on texturing. Check it out!


This post is part of a series on the book Digital Painting and Texturing.
You can find the base post of the series here.

Next post on the series: The Face (3D Painting)
Previous post on the series: The Hoses (Tileable Textures)

Learning Texturing – Hoses

Digital Texturing and Painting

A Small Tileable Texture

Wow, I am learning lots. This is exceeding my expectations quite a lot! As a byproduct I’m also learning lots of Gimp, and even other things: this chapter instructed me to use Illustrator, so I used Inkscape for the first time ;)

So this chapter was about creating tileable textures, which we applied to texturing an engine braided steel hose. Ready for awesomeness?

First step was to define the repeatable tile. Based on a few reference images, an “over-two-under-two” pattern was established, and so we put it together in Inkscape:

Fairly intuitive, Inkscape. I couldn't find direct translations to some of the instructions for Illustrator, but I solved those issues in other simple ways.

Repeat that pattern a few times and you see it taking shape:

Remember the days when desktop wallpapers had tiles like these? Fear not, our purpose is another.

All we have to do is isolate the tileable square and we’re good to go:

Here we go.

From here on we take this to Gimp. These braided hoses are made with very thin steel cables, so with the help of Gimp’s gradient fills we created two layers of weaves, one vertical and one horizontal.

Like this.

Using layer masks (like I said, I’m learning a lot of Gimp!) we applied these weaves to the respective directions on the base braid we made in Inkscape. With the airbrush tool we added dirt and shadow to the edges of the braids, and things are beginning to look like what we want:

Cool stuff huh?

I did desaturate the color map a fair bit after. Before applying the texture to the hoses though, to give them an extra kick we put together a bump map. Without it it just doesn’t look right. It wasn’t just duplicating the color map and making it black and white though. The vertical braids have a darker grayscale value, so they would appear to have different depth than the horizontal ones. So basically we just had to make the tones equal. We also duplicated the layer of dirt and shadow to accentuate the creasing.

Here's the final bump map

Time to apply it to the hose mesh! Simple UV unwrapping, some specularity, color and bump maps applied… and there we go:


I’m really liking this, for some reason I was a bit pessimistic but these results are just too satisfying. So stay tuned, because there will definitely be more!


This post is part of a series on the book Digital Painting and Texturing.
You can find the base post of the series here.

Next post on the series: The Tires (Displacement Maps)
Previous post on the series: The Bandana (Scanning in Textures)

Learning Texturing – Bandana

Digital Texturing and Painting

A Simple Tile and Scanned Texture

This chapter was about using a scanned-in image to put together a texture for the bug(gy)’s bandana.

The author used a paint rag of his, which worked really well. I don’t paint though, and I looked around for something grungy I could use but the closest I could find were my ragged jeans. So I decided to use the author’s scan. Good thing Gimp is able to import Photoshop files!

Obviously the original is in (much) higher resolution

Then I had to fill in the empty spaces. I used the clone tool with a faded brush, which gave a pretty good result in my opinion:


I then had to make the texture seamless. I knew Gimp has a Make Seamless tool but I wasn’t too happy with the result, so I went ahead and did it manually like the author suggested (using the offset + wrap around tool (exactly the same in Gimp) to see the seams, then clone over them again).

Next up, making it look like it’s been speeding in the desert. Sun-bleached, old, dusty… So we desaturated the image, and added a few layers painted over with a custom sprinkly brush of brown and green colors.

Then all that’s left is applying it on the model! After tweaking the unwraps a bit (the model is a bit funky), ta-daa:

Ha! again

I’m pretty satisfied with the result, and it makes me look further even more to continuing this project. Cool stuff!


This post is part of a series on the book Digital Painting and Texturing.
You can find the base post of the series here.

Next post on the series: The Hoses (Tileable Textures)

Digital Texturing and Painting

I’ve mentioned this book a couple of times before, and since I’ll be working through its project files I might as well elaborate a bit more on it.

I was looking for a resource that would teach me texturing like Digital Lighting and Rendering teaches… well, lighting and rendering – providing the fundamental “theory” and being software-agnostic. I want to know how to texture in Blender, of course, but I want to learn how to texture in the first place. Funny enough the book I found was in the same collection of the one on lighting, looked just like what I wanted, and the author is credited as Paint Lead in films like The Matrix, so yeah, I thought it should be good.

And it is. It’s divided in two main parts, one could say Theory and Practice. I’ve gone through the first already and it delivered – it focuses on training your eye to actually see (I’ve always known trees were green, for example, but now i’m looking outside my window and I’m seeing trees in one, two, three, four, five different greens, plus all the yellow and brown… hey and red, I hadn’t noticed that one yet!) and to dissect, teaches you how to collect references for creating textures, color theory, style and preparation decisions, and even saves you the trouble of going to your local art museum by showing you a few pieces of art and sharing the kind of things his trained eye is looking for.

The second part is a project, in which he provides a model and goes through the process of texturing it step by step, presenting the different techniques. Those are the ones I’ll be showing you while I work through them. Now, this part is not so software-agnostic. Well, it still is, provided that your software of choice has all you need, but the project files and the specified directions are for 3dsMax and Photoshop. I’ll be adapting these to Blender and Gimp as best as I can.

The first hurdle that I mentioned a few posts ago (the model was in a .max format that Blender couldn’t open) was overcome by getting 3dsMax just to open it and export it to another format (yeah). There is a review on Amazon about Blender Foundations in which the person says “the book is good, but the character is really ugly, I couldn’t stand it”. Well I just hope he never gets this book then. Here’s the dude:

Warned ya, Review Guy.

At first look it seems the import worked well. The wheels have some funky topology that I might (or might not) fix but the rest looks alright. So the first step will be texturing his bandana. Stay tuned!


Here are direct links to the posts on the series:

  1. The Bandana (Scanning Textures);
  2. The Hoses (Tileable Textures);
  3. The Tires (Displacement Maps);
  4. The Face (3D Painting);
  5. The Goggles (Procedural Textures);
  6. Finishing