Maybe this is a known skinning method, but I haven't found anything about it on the web so I've put together a v0.1 tutorial here. This method will allow you to paint on textures while they are wrapped around player meshes. In simpler terms, it’s 3D painting/skinning, which is a HUGE time-saver for getting the edges of separate textures aligned. I only wish I had figured this out earlier!
In earlier days, this was done using programs like deep paint 3D
. I’ve figured out how to do it in Photoshop with much better results.
You will need:
- Photoshop CS5 or above. This may work in CS4 but I need someone with CS4 to verify.
- UT Package Tool (UTPT)
- UT Skinmaker
I'm learning all this out as I go, so there may be gaps or assumptions I’ve made which need further explanation. I invite anyone interested to experiment with this method themselves, and contribute to this post, so we can make this tutorial as robust and mature as possible. So here it goes:1) Create a 3DSMax (.3ds) mesh file
Open UTPT. In options set your export folder so you know where grab the exported file
Open epiccustommodels.u (or whichever .u file contains the player model you want to work on). Navigate to the listing of the player model you want, it should say ‘lodmesh’ in the Class column to the right. Select Extract Mesh -> As 3DStudio
Uncheck 'All Frames.' Select the animation you want and select a frame. I recommend the Walk animation – many other animations have the player crouched or stretched in a way that either distorts vertices – making it harder to paint accurately, or hides/blocks polys – preventing you from painting on them. Check Smoothing Group 'none' and click OK.2) Set up your Photoshop 3D file
Open Photoshop, open a new file at 1024x1024 pixels.
From the 3D menu select New Layer From 3D File
Navigate to the .3ds file you exported from UTPT and open it. In a moment you should see a 3D rendering of the mesh not unlike UT Skinmaker
Don’t worry if the model is not upright – you can adjust that later (see Part 4 below). If you don’t like the model’s pose, try re-exporting a different animation frame from UTPT.
You'll want to tweak your render settings. Go to the menu 3D -> Render Settings. I recommend:
Face Style: Unlit Texture
Edge Style: Solid3) Set up your Photoshop texture files
With the Photoshop file still open you should see two Photoshop layers on the right.
I recommend filling the bottom (background) layer with a solid color that will make your texturing stand out. I use magenta.
The top layer is the 3D layer, which also contains the individual textures. For the Skaarj Hybrid, Skin0 is the face, hands, and feet. Skin1 is the chest, calves, and tail. Skin2 is back, thighs, and arms.
This will vary depending on what UT player mesh you’re using.
You’re about ready to work.4) Moving the camera, moving the model
You’ll have to read up or learn this for yourself. It totally threw me off at first. You just need to practice to get a feel for moving your view. Remember the N key for camera mode and the drop-down list that appears at the top where you can select preset views: Top, Bottom, Left, Right, Front, and Back.
I strongly recommend using Rotate Mesh
tool to align your mesh to match the camera presets. That is, manipulate the mesh until it is facing you straight on when you select the Front view preset. Once your mesh is aligned, save your file. Practice using the camera tools so you become fluent in zooming and moving around your mesh. This, and aligning your mesh will reduce a lot of confusion later on.5) Before getting to work
It’s important to remember the following:
You will be working in multiple Photoshop files that are linked. Work you do in one won’t show up in the other unless you save it. So make sure to save when switching between files you have open.
Pay attention to what layer you’re on. In the main .psd file, you’ll always want the top (3D) layer selected.
Pay attention to what layer you’re on. In the supporting .psb (not .psd) files, before saving your work, make sure you have the top layer visible and selected. Then and only then should you switch back to the main .psd file.
Pay attention to what layer you’re on. It is easier to manage your progress this way. It will save you frustration later.
You will be working in multiple Photoshop files that are linked. This can be resource-intensive if you have an antiquated PC like mine. If you’re not working in the supporting .psb files, close them while not in use.
I repeated myself a lot here. That was on purpose. Did I also mention to pay attention to what layer you’re on when you're working?6) Getting to work
In the 3D layer, double-click on the bottom listing ('skin000000' in the images above) to open the texture. It will be a blank .psb ‘Large Document Format’
. Photoshop uses the .psb’s to render the 3D view, wrapping them around the mesh just like Skinmaker.
Re-size this texture to the size you like to work in (512x512 is good, then reduce to 256x256 later on when preparing for final export).
If you’ve already started your skin before reading this tutorial, size them to match 512x512 and paste each as a layer into their respective .psb files.
From the 3D menu, go to Create UV Overlays > Wireframe
Photoshop will add a layer to the .psb file:
The wireframe isn’t necessary, but recommended for reference when you’re not working in the 3D layer. You can always hide the wireframe layer in the .psb file when you don’t need it.
In the following example I stroked a circular selection in the 3D layer:
Then made it into a smiley face:
Now when I open up the textures (.psb files) I can see the results:
I can make changes to the smiley face in the .psb files, save & close those, and see the results in the 3D layer. The more you develop a work rhythm, the easier it becomes to align edges and create patterns that cross multiple textures. Now imagine all the things you've wanted to try but were too time-intensive or complicated. I'm hoping this technique will simplify them for you!
Then when you’re happy with your work, reduce it to 256x256, clean up and tweak as needed, and you’re ready to go.
I still recommend UTSM for the finishing work – it lets you see how your textures hold up when animation stretches them. It’s also way less resource consuming, and of course, lets you package up your final product quite nicely.
As I said, I’m still learning this. Please try it yourself and add what you learn to this thread.
That’s all for now.