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I've modeled and unwrapped the separate elements of my shipping container, and now I'm going to bring them together as one object for texture painting and import. First, I'm going to pick one of my elements, and really anyone will work. Right now this is a box with an Edit Poly and an Unwrap UVW modifier onto it. I'll right-click and convert this to a Poly. The texture coordinates, or the UVs, are now baked into this. So I'm going to right-click and attach it to the other objects. Once you've unwrapped an object those texture coordinates are applied.
You can collapse it or attach it to things, or whatever you need, and those UVs are still there until you change them. I'll attach by using the dialog here, and picking the other objects in the list, picking the top holding Shift and picking the bottom. This attaches all my objects together, although it shows as just an editable poly. When I put it an unwrap UVW modifier on, I can see cleanly in the Editor there is all of my shells. Now I'm going to arrange them. I'll turn off the checkers and start to move some things around.
Notice I'm scrolling back and panning over, so I have some additional real estate here to play with. What I'd like to do first is turn on the Select By Element Toggle and start to grab all the stacked elements I've made and pull them out of the way. I want to get a clear picture of what's going on. There is my long sides and here's my short sides and tops, and I'll leave that side where it is, and now I've got my elements pretty nicely stacked. Over here on the left side I have my top frames and vertical posts. On the bottom, those are all of my long frames, and this giant plus; those are actually the small corner boxes.
When I'm getting UVs in, what matters is that I'm utilizing this zero to one space as effectively as possible. If you're loading an image in that is 1024 pixels on a side, whether or not you're using those pixels in the texture, you are still loading them into RAM. Memory is crucial in games and so we have to optimize our UV layouts. This is pretty good so far. These elements, my sides, top and bottom and door end and flat end, are about as big as I can get them.
I may want to use the Freeform Mode and scale them just a little bit, to see if I get them any bigger. I'll hold Ctrl while I scale, to make sure that I don't distort my elements I've so carefully unwrapped, and then start to pick the pieces, and see if I can slide them a little closer to each other. This is also a good place to make sure in the Move tool, you constrain down to one axis, that way when painting a texture, you can slide things vertically in Photoshop or horizontally and not the off alignment. I'll pull these in and put them as close as I can.
I want to make sure that my edges don't touch, that is, I don't have overlapping UVs where they shouldn't be overlapping, and also that the UVs are not touching the edges of that zero to one space. Now I'll start to bring in my other pieces. First, I'll take my longest elements which are my long sides here, I'll rotate them 90 degrees and I'll move them into the right place. I'll switch my Move tool back over to two directions, and I'll pull them in and stack them as well as I can. It looks like I need to scale these down just a little bit, don't be afraid to really zoom in and see where you need to go.
I need to come off that edge just a bit. So I'll scale these, holding Ctrl again to maintain proportion, zoom out to check, and pull them into position. That's pretty good. What I'm planning on is, in the overlapping of these elements, I'm going to paint general grunge and rust along the length of it. These will simply share across all the elements and I'm banking on not being able to see all four long frame pieces at once, as part of my reasoning in simply stacking those UVs.
Now I'll put in the other pieces. Again, selecting all the short frame elements, pulling them over into the best space possible, scaling down while holding Ctrl and moving them off my sides here. This may take a little time to do, but it's working pretty nicely, and I've got a place here where I'm using my texture space fairly decently. I don't have much more I can really scale. Lastly, I'll look at my corner boxes. I'll take them, pull them over and rotate them.
How you rotate these is up to you. I don't mind that it's actually upside down here, because really what I care about is that, this is rusty and that is probably as well. I can paint this scene to match, so as long as I can see it, I can paint to it. I'll pull these into place, scale them down, and my UVs are ready for texture. With my corner pieces in place I can see I've got a little space left over. I do have the option here of taking one of those corner elements and pulling it off the others.
That way I can paint separate textures for those to add a little more variety. It's always good to look for places where there are repetitive elements where you may want the texture to vary. As an alternate, if the bottoms are more rusted than the tops, I may want to pull the bottom corner elements off. Looking at the selection here in the Editor and looking over in the view to see what's selected. I can space these out, use up the rest of this space, and again I'm ready for painting, maximizing my UV layout. I'll right-click, choose Top-level and I'm ready to export out or render that UVW template.
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