Tutorial v0.1: Painting directly on the 3D Mesh

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Tutorial v0.1: Painting directly on the 3D Mesh

Postby fudgonaut » Sun Nov 17, 2013 9:06 pm

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

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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

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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.

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2) Set up your Photoshop 3D file

Open Photoshop, open a new file at 1024x1024 pixels.

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From the 3D menu select New Layer From 3D File

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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

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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
Texture: Diffuse
Edge Style: Solid

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3) Set up your Photoshop texture files

With the Photoshop file still open you should see two Photoshop layers on the right.

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I recommend filling the bottom (background) layer with a solid color that will make your texturing stand out. I use magenta.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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

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Photoshop will add a layer to the .psb file:

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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:

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Then made it into a smiley face:

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Now when I open up the textures (.psb files) I can see the results:

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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.

Cheers.
-fudgonaut
Last edited by fudgonaut on Tue Nov 19, 2013 5:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Tutorial v0.1: Painting directly on the 3D Mesh

Postby fudgonaut » Sun Nov 17, 2013 9:44 pm

Also important: Make sure that your .psd files and .psb files are the same image mode (for example, 32-bit RGB) or you might get message errors about interactive painting. If you get a "3D engine, color mode or render mode does not support paining" error, try adjusting your Render Settings. You may need to do some internet searching to find the exact solution for your problem.

Here's another quick 3D example. For the sake of argument let's say your clan has entered into a sponsorship deal. You can grab the sponsor logo, paste it in the layer above the 3D layer, and merge it down. Instant product placement!

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Re: Tutorial v0.1: Painting directly on the 3D Mesh

Postby papercoffee » Sun Nov 17, 2013 11:59 pm

Damn... my PC is tooo old to run CS5 or 6.
But nice tutorial.

Should I make it a sticky thread?
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Re: Tutorial v0.1: Painting directly on the 3D Mesh

Postby Metalfist » Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:26 am

This is pretty useful, I didn't know that Photoshop could do that :)
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Re: Tutorial v0.1: Painting directly on the 3D Mesh

Postby fudgonaut » Mon Nov 18, 2013 1:08 am

papercoffee wrote:my PC is tooo old to run CS5 or 6

I think this functionality was introduced in CS4, so if you have that, maybe you can verify?

papercoffee wrote:Should I make it a sticky thread?

That'd be great - thanks!
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Re: Tutorial v0.1: Painting directly on the 3D Mesh

Postby Feralidragon » Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:16 pm

Very nice tutorial. :mrgreen:
I have the impression I will need to use this technique for something in the not so far future. Thanks :tu:
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Re: Tutorial v0.1: Painting directly on the 3D Mesh

Postby fudgonaut » Mon Nov 18, 2013 5:52 pm

Thanks - I hope this will help you out!

Although I haven't tried it, I'm fairly confident this tutorial can be used for any lodmesh, not just player skins. So if someone needs to tweak textures on other game objects (for mapping, etc), this should work. I'll try to confirm this week.

Cheers,
-fudgonaut
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Re: Tutorial v0.1: Painting directly on the 3D Mesh

Postby Chamberly » Mon Nov 18, 2013 8:09 pm

Hey man... Thanks for this. I have CS5 and this will be great! :) I'll try this out!
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Re: Tutorial v0.1: Painting directly on the 3D Mesh

Postby Dr.Flay » Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:42 pm

This is the first time I have (for a moment) thought about installing some Adobe bloatware.
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Re: Tutorial v0.1: Painting directly on the 3D Mesh

Postby fudgonaut » Wed Nov 20, 2013 6:18 am

UPDATE:
The "3D engine, color mode or render mode does not support paining" error frequently occurs when I'm trying to paint if the layers are 32-bit RGB. Switching layers to 16-bit RGB seems to clear up the problem.

For the Skaarj Hybrid, exporting the animation "dead9" at frame 0 from the UT Package Tool produces a mesh in a good pose for working.
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Re: Tutorial v0.1: Painting directly on the 3D Mesh

Postby Ðàrk-_¦_-Ñìght.: » Thu Nov 21, 2013 8:50 am

Is there a way to do this in GIMP for those who can't afford to spend hundreds of dollars on overpriced software?
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Re: Tutorial v0.1: Painting directly on the 3D Mesh

Postby Radi » Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:58 am

This is not possible in gimp :(. Maybe in the future they add something like this:) what a shame but still gimp is better than PS xD
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Projection Painting

Postby fudgonaut » Wed Dec 11, 2013 6:56 am

papercoffee wrote:my PC is tooo old to run CS5 or 6

I found this and this, so it looks like you can do projection painting in CS4 :tu:

Ðàrk-_¦_-Ñìght.: wrote:Is there a way to do this in GIMP for those who can't afford to spend hundreds of dollars on overpriced software?

If you can get your UT player model into Blender (maybe using this script?), it looks like you might be able to do projection painting.
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Re: Projection Painting

Postby papercoffee » Wed Dec 11, 2013 8:58 am

fudgonaut wrote:
papercoffee wrote:my PC is tooo old to run CS5 or 6

I found this and this, so it looks like you can do projection painting in CS4 :tu:

nope ...I have CS2 only
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Re: Tutorial v0.1: Painting directly on the 3D Mesh

Postby Chamberly » Tue Aug 29, 2017 8:35 pm

Re-uploading picture for Photobucket's missing picture replacement.
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