Join Joel Bradley for an in-depth discussion in this video The Stitch rollout, part of Mastering UVW Mapping in 3ds Max.
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- When it comes to mapping and texturing more complex pieces of geometry such as the vent housing found on the back of our robot character here. We will probably find ourselves needing to work with the stitching tools that we'll take a look at in this exercise. Indeed if I go ahead and open up the UV editor window, you can perhaps see why this may be the case. What we have here is an unwrapped, created using tools that we have worked with in this course including seam and pelt mapping options.
Now whilst the mapping around the edge of the vent housing here isn't really all that bad, given that we don't see any obvious squishing or stretching of the test map in the viewport, it is still clear that the end result could be better. For instance, we have a number of very noticeable seams that will definitely make life difficult for the artist who has to apply final textures to this model. And of course, more seams means that we end up with more separated UV clusters in our Editor Window which again will only make working with this section of the model harder than it really needs to be.
Both of these however, are problems that our stitch tools can help smooth out. To get a nice clear view of what we're going to be working with here, let's left-click on the Viewport Shading menu, come down to the Display Selected entry, and then from the fly out, uncheck the Display Selected With Edged Faces option. This nicely cleans up the viewport allowing us to focus on just the mapping and seams that we are interested in manipulating. Now of course, we're not able to eliminate all of the seams that we see here as some are required in order for us to have an unwrapped solution.
What we will focus on cleaning up though are the three sitting just at the top of the vent housing. In order to determine which clusters in the editor window these correlate to, let's jump into Polygon Sub-Object Mode and then whilst holding down the control key, select a polygon either side of the middle seam in the viewport. This tells us that we're going to be working specifically in the Editor Window with the two UV clusters seen here. Let's zoom in on those and then make the switch over to Vertex Sub-Object Mode in order to start cleaning things up.
The first thing we will want to understand here is the way in which information is displayed in the Editor Window whenever we make a vertex level selection. If I, for instance, left-click and drag to grab the vertices along the edge of our left hand cluster here, we see that while those captured inside the selection window turn red, we at the same time get a secondary selection in our right hand cluster, only this time in blue. What we're seeing here is 3ds Max's way of telling us that these two sets of apparently different vertices are in fact one and the same.
Indeed in the viewport's, we can clearly see that we currently have only a single seam selected. So whilst the UVW mapping process does, for ease of use, allow us to break a UV mash into separate visual clusters. 3ds Max still continues to use only a single set of edges and vertices along any seam. What we are seeing here then, are two separate color coded representations of exactly the same points on the UV mesh.
Now in order to make use of the Stitch Tools found in the roll out of the same name, we only need to make one set of direct vertex selections, just as we have done here. This gets tagged by the stitch tools as the source selection. The blue or secondary sets automatically becomes known as the target selection. And these designations are important to remember because if I just hover over the buttons in the stitch roll out, you can see that we have both Stitch To Target and Stitch To Source options that we can make use of.
The choice we use here will determine how our selected vertices are moved around inside the UV space. If I choose Stitch To Target, then my initial selection, the source, will jump across to the target vertices. Whereas if I hit undue and instead choose the Stitch To Source option, then it will be the blue or target selection that has to move. Now these are not the only options available to us of course. We also have the Stitch To Average function that will cause both selection sets to meet at the half way point as it were.
And finally, we have perhaps the most versatile option of all, this being the Custom Stitch Tool. Now if I go ahead and simply click the Custom Stitch button, what actually happens in the Editor Window will probably be a little unclear given that the operation we see appears to take place automatically. If we look carefully at the button itself though, we can see that it has a little black corner triangle that in the 3ds Max UI denotes a bottom based fly out. So if I just undue our previous stitch and then left-click and hold on the button you can see that we actually have a second selection option available to us.
One that when clicked, opens up an options dialog for us. Now although having chosen that option, our UV clusters instantly reorient themselves in the view, nothing has, as of yet, been written in stone. Meaning if I go ahead and hit cancel, our clusters will simply jump back to their original positions. Of course we want to take a look at the options available in that dialog so let's reopen it and take a look at what we have. The Align Clusters option as you can see if I turn it off and back on again, reorient a target cluster so that it produces smoother, cleaner mapping to (mumbles) This can clearly be seen in that the edges we see now flow much more cleanly through what was previously a seam.
Scale clusters, while it's not really doing anything noticeable here, will do a comparable job in relation to scaling. with a target cluster automatically scaling so that it will more closely resemble the size of the source. The bias control is a way for us to skew the mapping result towards one cluster or another. With zero favoring the source, one favoring the target, and 0.5 holding the middle ground of course. With the line and scale clusters turned on then and with a bias of 0.5 set let's click okay and then switch over to Polygon and Element Sub-Object Mode so that we can align our new cluster inside UV space.
Once done and I deselect, we can see in the viewport that our seam is gone and the mapping looks just fine. Let's finish the job off then by turning the element toggle off, jumping back into Vertex Selection Mode and repeating the process for the other two seams. Of course, seeing as we already have the setting in our custom stitch dialog set just as we want them, we don't need to reopen that dialog again. Now as we can simply click on the button and apply those same settings each time.
What we end up with once done is I'm sure you will agree, a much cleaner mapping solution than the one with which we started. Not that there isn't room for improvement mind you. A quick zoom and pan will show us that we are very close to, if we haven't already, created overlapping UV's in a number of areas. And so, applying some form of relaxed (mumbles) would probably improve things even more here. Before we take a look at the relaxed tools available in the UV Editor however, we are going to move into our next exercise and take a look at the controls sitting just below the Stitch Tools.
These being found in the somewhat dramatic sounding Explode roll out.
- What are UVW coordinates?
- Understanding UVW space
- Autogenerating coordinates
- Using map channels
- Working with the World XYZ and Object XYZ systems
- Peel and pelt mapping
- Reshaping UV elements
- Relaxing UVs
- Rendering out a UV template