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Mapping a body

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Mapping Tutorial

I have my own way of mapping bodies in an efficient but quick way that works well for me so feel free to experiment and figure out what ways work best for you. I'll include some useful tips that painters will be very grateful you include should you choose to have someone else paint it for you.

Step 1
Open Blender (I use 2.49b but you should be able to apply this to all versions) then open the model you want to map. I'll be using Andrew Sheets' Nissan Titan body for this tutorial.

Step 2
Once you have your model open it should look something like this
You may need to scale and/or resize the windows in blender depending on your monitor size. To scale the bottom panel in blender hold CTRL and use your mouse wheel to zoom in or out. Next we need to add another panel so in total we'll have 3. You'll quickly see why this is important in a moment. Right click along the panel's borders and click split and choose how you'd like to split the split the window, I try to keep them evenly sized so I can see what I'm doing easily.






Then in the newly split window we have you need to click on the icon in the bottom left of the window and choose UV/Image Editor. Also while we're here make sure you go ahead and click on Image->New and 2048x2048 or any size you wish and that is all you really need for this step.

*TIP: It's never a bad idea to save your progress no matter how minor it may be, just press CTRL+W.*

Step 3
Now the real fun begins. Right click on your model to select it and press TAB to enter edit mode.
As you can see I have already mapped this so if you wish you can use it as a guide along through this tutorial but just for this tutorial we will be redoing it entirely so don't worry too much if you have nothing that shows up in the UV/Image Editor window. I personally find it easiest to separate all of the parts before I do anything else at this point. I recommend using a combination of vert and face selection for this as well as the actual mapping portion when we get to that. To selected verts/edges/faces press B twice for the brush and left click to select, you can deselect by clicking in your mouse wheel and once you're finished a section you can press X to disable brush selection. You can also zoom in or out by using your mouse wheel and to adjust the camera you can hold SHIFT and drag your mouse while clicking the mouse wheel down.

*TIP: Shift+Space Bar will put the active window your cursor is over into fullscreen*

*TIP: This small cube at the far right of Vert, Edge, and Face select mode is both useful and annoying, you can see the lines visible on the other side of the body which allows you to see and select the other side without rotating the view though I personally prefer to keep this selected so that I can't see those as more often then not I wind up selecting a piece or two from the wrong side and have to fix it later.*
*TIP: The numpad if you have one can be used to get exact rotations which is tremendously useful for mapping. You'll really only need 1 (Front), 3 (Side), and 7 (Top)*

Step 4
Once you've got your pieces separated in some fashion the actual mapping process can begin. However you decide to split the body is entirely up to you and as long as it works and doesn't give you any issues then there isn't really a wrong way of doing it.

*TIP: Press P and then click on Selected to separate the piece you have selected.*

Here is the entire body split apart to my liking, please do not move them apart like this as this is simply just to show you what all I have separated.
*TIP: Press Z to quickly alternate between textured and wire frame view.*


Step 5
Mapping time! Now, there are several ways you can go about mapping depending on what you want to do. Two examples are you can do each side entirely as it's own piece or you can do it with all the separated pieces being their own mapping section. Either way once you've chosen which you'd prefer to do you can begin the actual mapping process. Just to make this a little quicker I'm going to do each side (Fender, Cab, and Bed) as one large piece. There are good things and bad things about both of these ways so what may work for one person may not work for another. First I'll start by joining the side pieces together like so.
Then the same thing for the other side.
*TIP: CTRL+J is used to join objects together, depending on the model you may want to press W and Remove Doubles in edit mode to remove double verts however this can impact the actual detail of the model to the point where it may need to be edgesplit again to bring back the lost quality*

To map the body or anything in blender press U and then click on Project From View however if we do this from the current angle in the window it will not look pretty at all so this is where the trick with the numpad comes in and if you don't have one you should be able to use the on screen keyboard that comes with your computers operating system. Be sure to zoom in as well for this as we can always adjust the size of the mapping later in the UV/Image Editor and I prefer to scale things down as opposed to up. Press 3 and zoom in a little then press U->Project From View and it should look something like this.
Just slightly bigger than our blank image on the right, now for the other side DO NOT ZOOM on the MODEL WINDOW (left) or it will throw off the scale and it can be an annoying thing to fix so once you find a comfortable zoom level to use for mapping a particular item I recommend leaving it there while you finish mapping with the same method. You can use the numpad keys to rotate the camera around (2, 4, 6, and 8) which I find to be very useful. Also be sure to select each piece once you've rotated to that viewing side otherwise you may wind up remapping the previous item and you will have to go back to fix that. I also HIGHLY recommend that instead of leaving items on the blank image you position them around it and try to keep track of where they are. If you are having an issue and it's just downright annoying you can always try using unwrap or unwrap from smart projections both of which can be extremely useful for very curvy models.
*TIP: It's always a good idea to save, press CTRL+W to automatically save. Just click okay on the pop-up but please note this will overwrite the .blend of what you currently have open so you may want to create a backup just to be safe.*

Step 6
Mapping certain things like the headlights on this body for example can prove to be a bit of a challenge so you may need to experiment with a viewing angle that covers as much of the item as possible. Don't be afraid to zoom in for these otherwise it may be difficult to see what exactly you're doing.
Sometimes you have to get a little creative to make things easier but you'll more than likely be thankful that you took the extra time to do this as lining things up just from paint can be an extremely time consuming process if the mapping isn't the greatest.

Step 7
Select everything (CTRL+A) and join it all together (CTRL+J)

Even trying to keep track of things I still wound up with a potential problem area, I'm actually glad this happened because it really makes it clear what you're trying to avoid running into by spacing everything out around the blank image.


Now we can place everything on the blank image in whatever configuration you wish. I try to make it easy for painters to follow that may not have access to blender. I like to start with the bigger pieces and then fit in the smaller pieces wherever I have room without scaling them down too much. You can move things around in the UV/Image Editor just like we did in blender earlier when separating our pieces. Press B twice for the brush select tool, left click to select, click the mouse wheel to deselect. Should you need to scale anything down I highly recommend you do identical pieces together so they are the same size as this will save you or your painter from a headache later on. Once you have the pieces selected just press S to scale it down by scrolling the mouse wheel. You want all of your pieces WITHIN the blank black image, anything that is too close to the edges or simply not on it will have problems being textured or not be textured at all.
*TIP: Press G to move objects around.*

Finish placing all of your pieces, whatever orientation you choose is entirely up to you as everyone has their own personal preference but make sure to not that if someone painting it rotates it to make it more convenient for them that they rotate it back otherwise it will have some obvious issues.

*TIP: This little magnet is incredibly useful, you can either click it to activate or press SHIFT+TAB, it will snap to the nearest verts if you hold CTRL while moving an item which can make lining things up perfectly incredibly simple and easy.*

Step 8
You're pretty much done mapping now and It's best to bake the body or object at this stage which you can learn how to do here. Make sure once you've finished the bake you save the image or you will have to do that part over again. I would suggest exporting the wire frame for you and anyone else to overlay in their painting program of choice so they know exactly where everything is. To do this go to the UV/Image Editor window and click on UVs->Scripts->Save UV Face Layout... and it should be sized the same as your blank image. Simply click export and you now have a wire frame to go with your mapping. The UV wire frame you exported will by in .tga format, you can leave it as that or convert it something else if you wish. If all went well you should have a pretty good idea of how mapping in blender works. Hopefully you were able to learn something new from this tutorial or find some information that will prove useful.


If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask as I or another member will more than likely be able to help. Also just to make sure it's noted clearly, a very large part of this entire mapping tutorial that is mostly geared towards bodies can really be applied to anything in blender with some minor tweaks.

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please help me it doesn't let me do step 3

Make sure you have the model selected and then enter edit mode (tab) and press A to select all, please not however if it's not mapped at all you will not have anything show up on the right window until you've completed the other steps. That screen shot is mostly to show an example of what it should look like when you're finished.

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Make sure you have the model selected and then enter edit mode (tab) and press A to select all, please not however if it's not mapped at all you will not have anything show up on the right window until you've completed the other steps. That screen shot is mostly to show an example of what it should look like when you're finished.

ok could you do a tutorial on how to use blender because I don't know any of the controls

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