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WIP St. Paul's Cathedral

polycounter lvl 8
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danshewan polycounter lvl 8
So, after an extended hiatus, I decided to get back to work on my first major environment asset, St. Paul's Cathedral.

Since the original mesh was both a) messy and b) around 170k triangles, I essentially rebuilt the model using the high-poly as a template. I'm pretty happy with how the low-poly came out, and is around 20k at present:


Since this is more of a workflow / texturing exercise, I'm planning on taking the finished model into UE3 for the final shot, so there's no ceiling, no back wall and I've optimized the model as well as I'm able. This is roughly the perspective I'm going for in the final in-game shot.

I'm at the stage now where I have to begin laying out the UV's. The majority of my experience in UV layout has been on small props and weapons, so it's a little daunting, to say the least.

I'm wondering how some of you more experienced polycounters would go about this. I don't want to use automatic mapping, given that there is still quite a lot of detail modeled in on the windows etc., so would a planar map be the best bet? Or use automatic mapping in several parts of the main structures?

At present I have the building separated into three parts; the building itself, the entrance (pillars, stairs and awning) and the trim that runs around the top lip of the main building. I was hoping to use one large texture for the main building, but a 12-plane automatic map projection results in this:


There's got to be an easier (or slightly less time-intensive) way than this, right?

I checked the environments FAQ / resource thread, but didn't find anything relevant to this predicament.

Thanks in advance, guys.


  • AtlusZMH
    I use Headus UVLayout.. even for hard surface i still find the workflow much more intuitive than maya's built in UVeditor..

    But im a noob when it comes to unwrapping, so perhaps someone with more experience can give you more detailed advice :)
  • Seaseme
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    Seaseme polycounter lvl 8
    UVLayout is alright. I really don't like it that much for hard surfaces. I always end up back in Maya doing it the old fashioned way - You might consider following this method for texturing / UVing and using Decals for details.


    This would be the most appropriate way to texture it, saving on resolution and using tiled textures.

    That tutorial is a must read for environmental / building texturing in my opinion.

    Looks great!
  • danshewan
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    danshewan polycounter lvl 8
    AtlusZMH wrote: »
    I use Headus UVLayout.. even for hard surface i still find the workflow much more intuitive than maya's built in UVeditor.

    I know a lot of people hate it, but I really don't mind the in-built editor. I don't mind working with shells etc, but I guess it's the best method of projection that's got me thinking right now.

    I've used RoadKill for organics stuff in the past (which has been excellent), but I've not figured out a way to use it for hard-surface stuff, so I'm still at square 1 at the moment.

    Thanks for the idea, though - I'll check out Headus UVLayout anyway. :)
  • Gannon
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    Gannon greentooth
    Model looks really cool but it's going to be a really big pain in the ass to texture in its current state. I'd recommend going through and breaking the model down into some key pieces. IE Windows, walls, pillars etc.

    I'd go with separating one out one window section from the top and bottom and making it into a tile-able model.


    Something a bit like this.

    Lay out the uvs for that, then continue with the rest of it. I like using the automatic map for the start, then going through and stitching everything together from largest to smallest piece. Or you can select the faces you want and just planar map it since most of this is relatively flat.
  • Seaseme
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    Seaseme polycounter lvl 8
    yeah, as RDM said making it modular would also really help with the texturing process - I honestly find Planar mapping is the way to go. Automatic is MESSY and next to useless - you spend more time cleaning it up then you would just doing some nice planar projections.
  • danshewan
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    danshewan polycounter lvl 8
    Thanks for the replies, everyone. Modular seems like the way forward - back to work for me. Time for a pot of coffee and some Boards of Canada, I think....
  • Fishypants
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    Fishypants polycounter lvl 13
    This might be a bit too late for this information, but the best method I have found when UVing in Maya is to setup up the uvs (at least in a temporary state) while you model. Theres a lot of repetitive structures that could use the same UV layout / Overlapping UVs that are easier to deal with when they are laid out to begin with.

    I know, doesn't help your current situation, but just something to think of next project. For this, I think you're screwed and just need to do it by hand (time consuming) or "remodel" certain areas - duplicate out an area that you can copy and lay the uvs out on that part, then clone it around.


    Haha! After reading the replies, looks like rdmlegend suggested this already. That would be what I would recommend as well. Good luck!
  • danshewan
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    danshewan polycounter lvl 8
    Small update.

    Decided to model in certain details of the building, such as the smaller support columns of the roof, and the added extrusions of the frieze. I felt it best to get the look right, before going apeshit with optimization for the sake of it. Presently at 34k triangles.


    I know it doesn't seem like much difference, but just organizing the UV shells took me almost two days. It might be a little indulgent in terms of polies, but I feel that the additional modeled detail really makes the difference to the mesh. I think it's just about done - I can't see myself adding any additional geometry at this stage.

    As always, suggestions and crits welcome.
  • achillesian
    well, for me personally, i would just group this as one big mesh, drop into zbrush, do AUVmapping, and start texturing/detailing,

    i can barely handle laying out flats for a single character,

    but i'm lazy...
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