Hello fellow Counters of the Polys,
My UV game is mad weak, that is to say, I have not changed my UVing methods since my third year of college and I'm beginning to feel my Archaic and Obsolete knowledge of the subject matter to be a constricting force. Not to mention a sap on my creative capacity and a serious time sink/DPS reduction/All-Spells-Cost-5-Additional-Mana-To-Cast (and by spells I mean 3D models of course but really, whats the difference)
SO question, aside from seeking the most efficient-while-still-proper workflow for creating bulletproof UV's, is there a way to UV a rectangular box (*For example*) using planar mapping and have each of the sides "Pop out" in proportion to the other UV's.
^So that English is Ungood, but here's how I roll.
-Above I've posted an example of a model I am currently working on; the UVing process I use is as follows.
I build the Low Poly from a basic polysquare using extrude faces and insert edge loop. Once the form is blocked out I either go on to start manually inserting edge loops while using the "3" key smooth preview to get the first round of nice attractive edges, OR I speed Planar Map the appropriate faces of the model in their low poly state because the faces can be easier/faster to grab when the model is in its low poly state (Fewer faces to select for planar mappin).
Now sometimes this is an ineffective solution because the later insertions of edgeloops or the process of smoothing, or a change down the line can throw off the UV's that Ive mapped so I try not to spend too much time on the speed UVing that I do In LowPoly state. That being said, it CAN be more efficient If you have UVed something quickly in a low poly state, then after the smoothing the UV's are still "undamaged", and the 5 minutes of UVing you did in low poly state saved you the 10 minutes (maybe more or less depending on the shape, type and complexity of model) it might have taken me in the high poly state.
After I planar map the 6 Holy directions, Up Down, Right Left, and Front Back, I sew together the 6 Islands of UV's as best as I can, Priority being Proportion-not-Distortion, and keeping UV seams in appropriate places and tucked where they will be unseen by the camera. *I should emphasize Proportion-Not-Distortion because my models need to have literally, not figuratively, 0% distortion, or my art director sends them back to me*. Now with the candle box above, my most recent finished model, I tried something new: where it didn't matter, I didnt sew edges of the UV's together, specifically the candle box Lid witht the attached gold ball. *note no design crossed the seam where I left the UV's unsewn, If a design had crossed the seam, I would have definitely sewn the seams up* You cannot tell, and it saved me 4 minutes of annoying work of selecting the high poly UV edges one at a time around about 40 tiny sections of edges. However I bet if that model went into a game engine or was needed down the pipeline it would be problematic, but the purpose of single beauty shots, there isn't a glaring problem problem.
^*This might have been a good example of something that should be UV'd in the low poly state for times sake?, as the model did not change from low to high poly almost at all, but the amount of segments needed for sewing increased significantly with edge loop insertions. I honestly don't know but I would like to UV like a professional and not an amateur-ist that has piecemeal put together a workflow that is riddled with inefficiencies.
Now my major problem and aggrivation with UVing, is that when I do planar map the 6 Holy directions, each UV Island/Group-of-Selected-faces pops into the UV Editor grid at a different scale in comparison to each other Island. If the model is symmetrical that mean 3 differently scaled sets of UV islands, if the model is not symmetrical, 6 individually different scaled UV islands. I hate it. Is there a way to have the first UV Island Pop into the UV editor, and have each of the 5 following Holy Directions pop into the UV editor at the same scale as the first? *Jesus that took me a long time to figure out how to explain*
I know it has something to do with the fact that the planar mapping function is set to "snap" to the UV bounding box's scale as large as it can while still fitting inside the bounding box. However this means that I need to Resize each individual island to the same scale as each of the other islands, and THERE HAS GOT TO BE A BETTER GOD DAMN WAY.
If you are reading this and my workflow is making you sneer in disgust, I beg you to comment, because I'm swatting at flies in the dark here with the limited tools at my disposal, and I am constrained by lack of knowledge and experience in the subject matter. Or maybe this is the most efficient workflow out there and I just need to deal with individually scaling and proportioning UV islands 6 times a model... but I hope that is untrue.
Please let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions, I really don't want to UV another model and manually scale my UV chunks into proportion with each other again.