Today's quick-tip tutorial takes a look at how to quickly and easily UV unwrap hard-surface 3D objects using Luxology's Modo 401. Let's take a look!
Load up the object you want to unwrap. As you can see in the Lists section, this object already has a UV map added. If your model doesn't have a UV map ready, click New Map at the bottom of the UVs section, give your map a name and click OK to add it in.
This is really just a personal preference, however during UVing I prefer to hide both the main grid and the workplane, allowing me to see my model a little more clearly. Hold down Ctrl-1 to bring up the appropriate pie menu as shown, and then drag down and release over Toggle Grid Workplane to hide them. You can repeat this process to bring it back once you're done!
Whilst there are many ways you could go about UVing this object, this quicktip shows the method I use in order to get clean UVs as quickly as possible. Good UVing typically results in either large areas of undistorted, connected UVs, or carefully considered separated sections. This model is going to use the latter, as we can imagine there would be discontinuities in any surface scratches across the corners/bevels in the objects, and as such we really don't need to keep everything connected. This makes things a lot easier for us!
The first step is to look for the largest flat sections of your model, which in this case are the two outer side panels. In Edge Mode, select the edges that run all the way around these faces as shown. We're now going to split these off from the rest of the model.
At this point you may be thinking "Ok, but what about the rest of the model? It's UVs are going to be HORRIBLE!" and you know what? You're absolutely right! However, the UVs for the sections we're concentrating on now will be perfect, and that's the key to this method - work methodically through the object, UVing it section by section, concentrating on one section at a time and ignoring the rest until the entire model is complete. So let's get UVing!
Switch to your UV layout view, and, making sure your correct UV map is highlighted, select Unwrap Tool from the left-hand menu, set the Iterations to around 1000, and then click once in the viewport.
As you can see we now have three different sections in our UV map : 2 sections which look an awful lot like the side panels we were concentrating on, and one section that looks…well…horrible! If the result for the section you're working on isn't as smooth as you'd like, feel free to adjust some more of the settings whilst the tool is still active. I'm very happy with my result however, so I'm going to hit Space to drop the tool.
This next screenshot shows the next stage of the process. In the UV view, I've selected each of the side panels in turn, and rotated them until they lay 'flat' in UV space. I've then grabbed both of the side panels, and moved them down, outside of the main UV space. We do this because we're now going to start UVing other sections of the model, and as we want to save as much time as possible we don't want our UVs to overlap, which would make cleanup at the end just that little bit more difficult.
With your UVs moved, switch to Polygon Mode and then select both of the side panels in the UV view, and click H to hide them. The panels will disappear from both your UV view, AND your 3D view - it's this last part that's especially important. As our side panels are now exactly as we want them, we don't want to re-UV them by mistake! Hiding them takes them completely out of the equation. And we'll continue this process of selecting a section, UVing, moving and then hiding that section until all parts of the model are UVd, at which point we'll unhide everything and clean up our map!
As you can see, in this next step I've now moved onto the next largest section of the model. Once you've surrounded that section with edges, you'll notice that the edges also appear on our horrible looking UV map section on the left - something that definitely needs cleaning up! So once again, select the Unwrap Tool and click once in the UV map view.
And there we are, it's now been fixed! So it's time to rotate this section, and move it out of the main UV patch, maybe this time to the right so as to avoid overlapping the side panels we moved off previously. And with them moved, it's time to select those polygons in UV space and hit H one more time to hide our completed section.
And after repeating this process for each section of your model, slowly shrinking that horrible mess of UVs, you can hit Shift-H to bring back all of your model and view your completed, if slightly spread out UV map.
One of the most important aspects of good UV mapping is ensuring that the different sections of your map all utilise the same amount of UV space - something that's much easier to understand if I demonstrate! First, import a checkerboard texture into your scene, by switching to the Shader tab, rolling down the Render section and clicking Add Layer > Image Map. The image should automatically display on your object using your newly created UV map for it's projection, however if it's not using the right map you can go to the Texture Locator section of the image's properties, and select your map from the drop down.
With that done, switch the 3D section of your viewport to Advanced OpenGL, and up the Horizontal/Vertical Wrap values in the image map's properties to around 10-15. This shrinks the size of the checkerboard texture on our object, and will allow us to adjust the different sections more easily.
Finally, go ahead and scale each section of your UV map until the checkboard texture appears the same size across the entire model - some sections might need to get bigger, whilst others may need to be scaled down. With that done, you can either arrange the sections into the top-right quadrant of UV space manually, or by clicking the Fit UVs button and making sure the Keep Proportion checkbox is selected before clicking OK.
And that's it! Fast, easy UVing within Modo. If you have any questions, just let me know!