How to unwrap organic models in 3ds max 2012

In this tutorial we will go through the process of unwrapping organic models using the new “peel” function in 3ds max 2012.

1) Creating the main seams.
Download the model and open it in 3ds max 2012.
As you can see the symmetry modifier is deactivated; we should leave it like this for now.
Add an Unwrap UVW modifier just below the symmetry modifier. Your modifier stack should look like in the screen shot bellow.

By default, the Unwrap UVW modifier creates some uvw cluster boundaries, but they are never traced in a manner that you can use, so the first thing we need to do is to reset them.

In order to reset the original seams, under the Unwrap UVW “selection” menu, choose polygon, click Ctrl+a (this will select all the polygons) and press “quick planar map” under the “edit UVs” menu.

At this point we are ready to start drawing the seams where they should be. Under the selection menu click edge, and select an edge like show in the screen capture bellow.

Now click on loop and all the edges along that loop will be selected.

With the selection set still active, click on “convert edges to seams” under the “peel” menu.

Now we can repeat the process to draw the seams around the other leg.

We could use the loop function to select the edges around the neck like we have done in the previous steps, but there is also another way to do it. Activate “edge to edge seam”, click on the first edge (like in the image bellow), and when the dotted line appears, click the last edge of the loop. This will select all the edges in-between the ones you have selected.

2) Creating clusters and additional seams At this stage we will create the main clusters for the body, legs and head and unwrap each of them separately. Select one (or a few) polygons from the tail area and click on expand face selection to seam. This is a very useful selection tool because it selects all the polygons you need with one click.

With the selection still active click on “Open UV Editor” and under the “Explode” menu click “brake”. This will detach the main body cluster from the rest of the geometry. Move main body cluster away from the rest of the elements.

Now select everything, and using move and uniform scale, place all the elements inside the square area.

Select the edges on the “arm” like in the picture bellow and convert them to seams.

Now switch to “face” sub-object and select the entire “arm” element and click “peel”

At this point we can repeat the previous step for the leg, but first it would be better if we detach the “foot” so the peeling process would be easier and cleaner. In “face” sub-object mode select the polygons for the foot and click break from the “tools” drop-down menu. After having done this we will peel both elements separately like we did for the “arm”. Using either point to point seams or selecting the edges and converting them to seams draw the seams on the side of each of these elements and peel them one by one. Up to this point you should end up with something like this:

We still have to peel the main body and the head because as you can see there are some overlapping polygons. Peeling the main body is the easiest part. You only have to select it, click “peel” and you are done. With regards to the head we still have to detach the mouth in a separate element. With this in mind, select the polygons that are inside of the month and click “break” in the tools dropdown menu to detach it in a separate element (like we did for the foot).

With the newly created mouth element still selected click peel (after having moving it away from the rest of the head). Finally select the head element and click peel. At this point we have all the elements correctly peeled with no overlapping faces. You can check this by going to “select” dropdown menu and click “select overlapped faces”. As you can see, no faces are selected after having done this, which means that there are no overlapping faces in the unwrapped model. However, we still have to make sure that all the elements are scaled correctly in relation to each other. In order to do this, select all the unwrapped elements and under the arrange elements menu click on “rescale elements”. You should end up with something like this:

Now it’s time to activate the symmetry modifier on the top of the stack. If you want the texture to be symmetrical you can render the UVW template and start painting on it in photoshop. However, in most cases you will need to have a different UVs for the left and right sides. In order to achieve that, first thing to do is to add another unwrap modifier on top of the stack. Open the UV editor and make sure you have “Select by element uv toggle” active. Click on an element and move it away like in the picture bellow:

Repeat this step for each of the elements in the UV editor After having done this, go to the “select” drop down menu and click on “select inverted faces”. You will notice that all the elements that should be mirrored are now selected. This is caused by the symmetry modifier. We will have to manually flip each of the elements in order to correct it.

Finally re-arrange all the elements in order to fit in the UV layout square. You can use rotate and move on each element independently but if you use the scale tool make sure you have all the elements selected so that you will keep the correct scale of each element relative to the others. The final UV layout should look similar to the one bellow:

The only thing left to do now is to render the UVw template (in the tools drop down menu), save it and start painting the textures in photoshop.

  1. Ricmage says:

    very nice

  2. Farhad says:

    Hi, This is very nice and smplie technique of unwrapping which I ever seen before. But I have some query on step 3 because you told that model is twice converted into editable poly but how’s possible it in max. If you apply uvw map modifier in max then it effect whole model not to few polygons only. If you have video tutorial for this then pls send it to me. This is my mail id .Again thanks for tut.

  3. lsebastian says:

    thanks for tutorial

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