View Full Version : Surface Editor vs. UV's vs. Z brush

12-18-2014, 01:10 PM
I have a question for surfacing objects. I've been using the surface editor and now am learning UV's. In the tutorial he talks about using z-brush to paint objects. Questions-
1.When surfacing objects what is the preferred method-Suface Editor(procedurals,gradientsetc.), UV mapping or Z-Brush(3DPainting Programs)? Do you use a combination of them? Or are some better for certain models?
2.I'm learning to unwrap the UV's but what about creating the textures for the maps. There are seams that would have to blend when I work in Photoshop.
a)Is there a tutorial or advice on making these UV map textures? They seem complex.
b)Is there some place I can get textures for UV's. Like reptile skin and play with them in photoshop?
c)Are 3D painting programs a better way to go?
3.Finally I have a thread on Plasma and Lighting effects that a lot of you responded to(31 replies) but it will not open. I click and the screen goes gray all other threads open. I'm dying to read what advice everyone gave me. Anybody know what's going on?

12-18-2014, 01:59 PM
Learning to UV map is a good skill to have.

What is the best method? It really depends on what you need. UV mapping doesn't supersede procedural/gradient textures if what you need is a procedural or gradient. It's just an additional tool in your bag.

I have 3D Coat so I can't speak for ZBrush, but 3DC is supposed to be good at blending UV seams where you paint. That said, you still want to try and hide your seams where it makes sense. Work smart, not hard.

I tend to use CG Textures (http://www.cgtextures.com/) for texture maps. They have a very generous system.

I've done more sculpting in 3DC vs. texture painting, but what I've done is sweet because you see it right on your model. Is it better than PS? I guess it depends on what you want.

I was able to pull up your other thread just fine (really sweet info going on in there). I would try pulling it up in another browser to see if maybe you have some browser weirdness going on. For instance if you use Chrome and it's not working there but comes up in Explorer, perhaps try clearing out some of your browsing history in Chrome and see if that clears up its ailment. Sorry it's a very generic answer but it's hard to tell what's going on without access to the system.

12-18-2014, 06:52 PM
Zbrush's strongest capability is to concept models that are not based on anything that exists. If you are trying to copy something that exists in a photo or elsewhere then often Zbrush isn't always needed until the final stages of detailing. In which case modelers often start with a strongly built sub-D mesh and then UV it using any tools they are comfortable with. Then bring it into zbrush to create bump and displacement maps. Color and reflection maps (there are several types) can be created in various applications. Photoshop is often not enough because it is time consuming to jump back and forth between your render shaders and PS, though PS is useful for fine detailing in mid stages. Keep in mind that your maps that are created in zbrush, Lightwave surface baking camera, Xnormal, or Substance designer etc. can be used as a template for use in photoshop to create your color maps.

12-19-2014, 09:06 AM
My preferred workflow for textures is fairly Photoshop-centric. Meaning one way or another the asset always winds up there in layers for final output.

Some projects start and end there and others - like characters - will be done in a 3D paint program, but then wind up in Photoshop and or/something like dDo to output the final maps.

There are some projects that I can not do currently in a 3D paint program because they rely heavily on vector type graphics with text and so on. For example something along the lines of a race car with all of the stripes and other custom painting with logos and type. I have yet to figure out how to do this in a 3D app. Though I am going to have a look at 3D coat, I think it has some tools for that which look interesting.

Currently I use Zbrush and Mudbox.

If you are looking for an economy solution Mudbox is a good deal. I mainly use it for painting. I like how it works for that. I don't use Zbrush for painting, howver, it does have some real nice tools for that. I do like the brushes in Zbrush. But the painting workflow I like better in Mudbox. Zbrush for sculpting hands down.

3D coat is also a great app at a great deal. And in fact currently it is on sale until the 31st of Dec 2014.

I'd seriously think about adding that or Mudbox to your tools if you want to do a lot of texture work.

One thing that I do a lot is use the clone brush in Mudbox to cover seams on maps I am making in Photoshop. Seams are an issue. And there is no way to avoid them with a good UV unwrap. It is a matter of exporting the maps back out to Photoshop once I have finished covering the seams.

Another plug for 3D coat is the uv tools. It has both auto unwrapping and the ability to create seams. (I don't use it yet, I was just having a look at the website). But right there you'd have a great addition to LW in a what looks like adequate UV tools. Mudbox does not have UV tools. But both Mudbox and 3D Coat support Ptex.

Some things to look into.

Waves of light
12-19-2014, 11:52 AM
For simple UV creation in Lightwave, you can use the ABF unwrap tool (LW v11 onwards). See this simple video I put together (note there are better ones on YT, just do a search for ABF unwrap Lightwave)


For more complex UVs inside of Lightwave you can use the PLG plugins.

Once you've created your UV maps, you'd export the wireframe as an EPS file, using the File | Export | EPS menu in Lightwave.

From there you would open up your EPS in Photoshop. This would give you one layer, which would be the UV wireframe. You can then start adding layers, detail and texture painting in Photoshop, saving the file as you go along. Returning to Lightwave Layout, you would create a surface for your model (F5) and apply the save file as a UV texture map. Then, whenever you make a change to the texture in PS, simply open the Image Editor menu (F6) and click reload to see the changes (VPR for instant updates or F9 render).

What you can also do (and what I tend to do) is
a) create your maps as above and export your model to another package (in my case this is 3Dcoat - because it loads .lwo file straight into the software and brings in any UV maps attached to your model)


b) just load you object into 3DCoat and use the excellent UV map creation tools in there.

The advantage of 3DCoat (and similar packages like Substance Painter, Zbrush, etc.) is that you can paint directly onto your model, across UV seams and it stops you from having to second-guess where to paint detail and how it will look when you save out the texture map and return to Lightwave (which you would have to do with standard UV maps painted in Photoshop).

What is also nice about 3DCoat, is that it has the ability to export your layers to Photoshop, work on them using toolsets that aren't available in 3DCoat, update the file and this will automatically update your 3DCoat file too. So best of both worlds.

Then it's just a case of saving out your model as an .lwo file and opening it up in LW to see the results.

3DCoat has a 30 day no restriction trial and at the moment, it has $100 off the full price. Also, the developer is currently introducing PRB materials, which will allow you to easily add materials to your model, changing the weathered look of edges, grunge, scratches, etc. Oh, and along with that you also get a full feature sculpting package too (but we'll leave that for the time being, lol).


I'm in no way a sales person for the 3DCoat team, I just found it more intuitive than other packages and the amount of extra updates you get between upgrade cycles is amazing.

Anyway, just my opinion, hope it helps.

Here's some of the work I've done using the methods above for UV creation and painting:

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