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Tema: Texturing techniques to enhance your images

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    Apr 2002

    Texturing techniques to enhance your images

    Texturing techniques to enhance your images
    Izzy Speaks

    A look at various tools and texturing techniques to enhance your images.

    Reusing Materials/Textures

    At some point in your blender exploration, it will happen. The perfect material/texture for your current masterpiece is one that you have already created in a previous project or one that has been created by a génerous community member that has offered to share his/her materials with the community. So how do you go about getting that perfect material/texture into your current projectí Well it couldn't be easier.

    Blender has two options for reusing materials, Linking and Appending (actually both these options can be used for all of blender's assets. Blender assets can include actions, armatures, cameras, images, IPOs, lamps, materials, meshes, objects, scenes, text, textures, and world, etc.).

    Appending will place a independent copy of the material into your new project.

    Linking to a material will link to the original file that contains the material, meaning that any changes to the original file will alos be saved to the new file that you linked it to. This is a useful option when working on a large project that will generate a large number of files that may be worked on by one or more people. This will allow any changes made during production to be propagated throughout all needed files without the added worque of updating each file individually.

    Texturing techniques to enhance your images-append-or-link.jpg

    Okay, on to actually seeing how to use these options. Both options are started the same way:

    • 1.From your new/current project file, either by going to File> Append or Link or using the hotkeys Shift + F1, open the file browser window. (All blend files can be used for Appending or Linking.)
    • 2.Browse to where you have saved the blend file that contains your perfect material.
    • 3.Clik on the file name of the desired blend file which will open the library list of Appendable/Linkable assets.
    • 4.In this case we are looking for materials, so Left mouse clik on Material.
    • 5.That will open a list of all available materials in that blend file.
    • 6.At the bottom of the file browser there are two buttons, one for Append and one for Link. Push whichever option you have chosen for your project.
    • 7.Right Mouse Clik on the Material you want to Link or Append, to highlight it and then Middle Mouse clik to confirm (load) your material to your new project file.
    • 8.Now your material will be available to assign to whatever object/model you wanted it for.

    There, just as I promised, easy as can be. With practice, you won't even have to think about it, you will just clik your way to reusing your blender assets.

    Bump Mapping

    What is a Bump Map? Bump maps are textures that store an intensity, the relative height of pixels from the viewpoint of the camera. The pixels seem to be moved by the required distance in the direction of the face normals. You may either use greyscale pictures or the intensity values of a RGB-Texture (including images) (definition taken from the blenderwiki).

    Well that is a nice definition and all, but what does it mean to the average artistí It means we can fake details and geometry that would be time consuming to create or result in a model that due to high vertex/face counts would take entirely too long to render (that of course is for those of us that are impatient with long render times.)

    Let's hear it for faquíng! Now let's look at how to use Bump maps.

    • 1.Add a new Material in the Material Buttons, assign color of choice
    • 2.Clik on the Texture button (F6)
    • 3.Clik in a Blanque texture slot
    • 4.Choose an texture type (there are many to choose from, some procedural textures don't worque as well as others, for more information on the different texture types and their uses you can refer to the blenderwiki:
    • 5.Apply the Texture in the Material buttons Map To panel by clicking the Nor option. The strength of the effect is controlled with the NumButton Nor on the same panel.

    Multiple Bumps maps can be used together to create any number of detailing effects. UV map layouts can be used in combination with procedural textures to create more complex and realistic effects.

    Render Baquíng

    Render baquíng creates 2d bitmap images of a mesh object's rendered surface. These images can be re-mapped onto the object using the object's UV coordinates. Baquíng is done for each individual mesh, and can only be done if that mesh has been unwrapped. While it takes time to set up and perform, it sabes render time. If you are rendering a long animation, the time spent baquíng can be much less than time spent rendering out each frame of a long animation.

    Use Render Bake in intensive light/shadow solutions, such as AO or software shadows from area lights. If you bake AO for the main objects, you will not have to enable it for the full render, saving render time.

    Use Full Render or Textures to create an image texture; baked procedural textures can be used as a starting point for further texture painting. Use Normals to make a low-resolution mesh look like a high-resolution mesh. To do that, unwrap a high-resolution, finely sculpted mesh and bake its normals. Save that normal map, and Map To the UV of a similarly unwrapped low-resolution mesh. The low-resolution mesh will look just like the high-resolution, but will have much fewer faces/polygons.


    • Can significantly reduce render times
    • Texture painting made easier
    • Reduced polygon count
    • Repeated renders are made faster, multiplying the time savings


    • Object must be UV-unwrapped.
    • If shadows are baked, lights and object cannot move with respect to each other.
    • Large textures (eg 4096x4096) can be memory intensive, and be just as slow as the rendered solution.
    • Human (labor) time must be spent unwrapping and baquíng and saving files and applying the textures to a channel.

    Texturing techniques to enhance your images-baking.png

    Full Render Bakes all materials, textures, and lighting except specularity and SSS.
    Ambient Occlusion Bakes ambient occlusion as specified in the World panels (F8. Ignores all lights in the scene.
    Normals Bakes camera-space normals to an RGB image.
    Textures Bakes colors of materials and textures only, without shading.
    Clear If selected, clears the image to selected background color (default is black) before baquíng render.
    Margin Baked result is extended this many pixels beyond the border of each UV "island," to soften seams in the texture

    Windows Users do AO first: If you are running Blender on a Windows operating system, you may have to first bake Ambient Occlusion before baquíng any other option. If you do not bake AO first, you may get the error message "No Image to Bake To" and will not be able to bake anything for that mesh.

    • 1.In a 3D View window, select a mesh and enter UV/Face Select mode
    • 2.Unwrap the mesh object
    • 3.In a UV/Image Editor window, either create a new Image or open an existing Image. If your 3D view is in Textured display mode, you should now see the image mapped to your mesh. Ensure that all faces are selected.
    • 4.With your mouse cursor in 3D View, press Ctrl Alt B to pop up the menú of available baquíng choices. Alternatively, access the Bake panel in the Buttons window, Scene (F10) context, Render sub-context.
    • 5.Bake your desired type of image: Full Render, Ambient Occlusion, Normals, or shadeless Textures.
    • 6.After computation, Blender replaces the image with the Baked image.
    • 7.Save the image in the UV/Image Editor window via Image->Save

    (Render Baquíng information taken from the blenderwiki)
    Further tips on usage can be found at the blenderwiki

    Texture Painting in Blender

    Blender features a built-in paint mode, called Texture Paint, designed specifically to help you edit your UV Textures and Images quickly and easily in either the UV/Image Editor window or the 3D View window.

    In the 3D window in Texture Paint mode, you paint directly on the mesh. In the UV/Image Editor window, you paint on a flat canvas that is wrapped around the mesh using UV coordinates. Any changes made in the UV/Image Editor window shows up immediately in the 3D window, and vice-versa.

    A full complement of brushes and colors can be selected from a floating Image Paint panel in the UV/Image Editor, or a Paint panel in the Buttons window, Editing (F9) context. Brush changes made in either panel are immediately reflected in the other panel.

    When satisfied or at intermittent intervals, please save your image using the UV/Image Editor window.

    Once you have un-wrapped your model to a UV Texture, you have to:

    • Load an image into the UV/Image Editor (Image->Open->select file), or
    • Create a new image (Image->New->specify size) and save it to a file (Image->Save->specify file).

    You cannot paint on a mesh in Texture Paint mode without first unwrapping your mesh, and doing one of the above steps. After you have done these two things, you can modify the image using the Texture Paint mode. Once you do:

    • In the 3D View window, select Texture Paint mode from the mode selector in the window header, and you can paint directly onto the mesh.
    • In the UV/Image Editor window, enable Texture Painting in the Image menu.
    • In the UV/Image Editor header, clik the magic pencil.

    At this time, you may choose to show the alpha (transparency) channel by clicking the button to the right of the magic pencil. The dot icon to the right of that button allows you to paint the alpha channel by itself.

    Once you enable Texture Painting, your mouse becomes a brush. To worque with the UV layout (for example, to move coordinates) you must disable Texture Painting. To worque with the mesh in the 3D View (for example, to move it in 3D space), or select other objects, you must leave Texture Paint mode.

    When you enable Texture Painting, use the View->Paint Tool option in the UV/Image Editor window or the Paint panel in the Buttons window to modify paint settings.

    All painting you perform in either window will be instantly reflected in the other window (if the 3D View is in textured viewport mode). However, the modified texture will not be saved until you explicitly do so by Image->Save in the UV/Image Editor window.

    In order to See Outline: If you want to paint directly on the mesh in the 3D View window, change to UV/Face Select Mode first to show the edge outline of the mesh, then switch to Texture paint mode, which visually overlays the previous mode, but keeps the outline.

    As soon as you enable Texture Painting or switch to Texture Paint mode, a Paint Panel becomes available in the Editing (F9) buttons. This panel has all the same controls as those available in the Paint Tool. Use this panel if you are only working in 3D view in order to change brushes (colors, patterns, function).
    (Texture Painting information taken from the blenderwiki)

    Further tips on usage can be found at the blenderwiki

    This is a short overview of some of the available blender texture tools that you may or may not have been aware of. For more information on texturing tools and techniques (as well as other areas of blender) refer to the blenderwiki documentation (

    A wealth of information is available there for you to browse through and use. A big thanks goes out to our documentation team for keeping our blenderwiki up to date and easy to use.

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