mudbox texturing

Mudbox texturing tools make photorealism easy

People argue whether Mudbox or ZBrush is best for sculpting – but no one argues about which is the better texture painting package. Mudbox is the best, hands down – and we can use its tool set to create amazing, photoreal textures quickly and easily.

Mudbox texturing: the bodybuilder

I am continuing with the bodybuilder character model I built in earlier tutorials. I start by importing the unwrapped character mesh into Mudbox.

Here’s the video! Want to follow along? Grab the character model and texture reference I use in the video here.

Projection Painting

I’ll rely primarily on projection painting for this project. Projection painting is exactly what it sounds like – I will take an existing image, and quite literally project it on the surface of my character mesh. Mudbox’s Stencils and its Projection Brush make this process a snap!

Photo Reference – the key to this process

Projection painting lives or dies by the photo reference you use to project on the surface of the character. Ideal reference is high-resolution, to create a detailed texture; and it has very even lighting, to make blending our projections together easy.

The high res photo reference I use for this project is available here. For this reference, I placed a model in a bare white room, used plenty of lights, and tried to position lighting and strobes to eliminate shadows where possible.

I also shot with an extremely high-resolution camera, ending up with photos at 4000×6000 resolution. In general, your source reference should be larger than your final render resolution (e.g. 1920×1080 for HD1080).

Long story short, you won’t find the kind of reference you need searching google. Grab mine or shoot your own!

Stencils, Cloning and Blending

Projecting the textures is just step one – the result will inevitably be a patchwork of mismatched images. The more even our lighting, the easier it will be to blend that patchwork together.

I reproject in select areas using my stencils, but I also rely on my Clone Brush and other paint brushes to blend my layers together. The blending process is the most important aspect of creating a high quality, solid-feeling texture. The video goes in-depth on the techniques I use.

Mudbox texturing feels like cheating

Seriously, it is so easy. I remember creating textures in Photoshop, overlaying my UV wireframe on top, and then copy/pasting the texture on to the open seam, in an attempt to create seamless blends. Mudbox just automates all of that, and all I have to do is focus on creating good textures!

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