Mapping Images onto the 3D Model Surface (1)

Because of the holiday break, during July and August I will report my progress every two weeks. I will return to weekly reporting in September.

I have just begun the third stage of this project: “painting” the model. At this moment I am unwrapping its meshes in the UV space . I will deliver you a full post about this process next Sunday. Today I will just signalize how it looks like.

So I started by creating a new reference picture. It had to have a rectangular shape. Inside I placed my drawings of the fuselage, wings, and the tailplane (Figure 60‑1):

Figure 60-1 Reference drawings for the UV map

The most important thing: all elements of this drawing have exactly the same scale. As you can see, I used flipped left side silhouette in place of the right side view. In fact, I should prepare a 2D drawing of the right side view first, then place it here. On the right side of the Dauntless fuselage, the steps to the gunner’s and pilot’s cockpits were located in different places. There was also a rectangular hatch of the luggage compartment. However, I am a little bit lazy, and I prefer recreating these details directly on the final textures. I will describe what I mean in August, when I report how I drew it.

I use the reference images to keep the proportions between all unwrapped model parts. Sometimes it is also useful for hiding the seams, as in the case of these wings (Figure 60‑2):

Figure 60-2 Mapping the wing mesh onto the reference drawings

I split the mesh into the upper and lower surfaces, and mapped it onto the corresponding parts of the reference drawings. On some textures (for example: the camouflage) it will be impossible to obtain an ideal continuation of the picture mapped along this seam. It is not a problem on the sharp edges, like the wing trailing edge. However, the rounded leading edge is a different case: I prefer to keep it “in one piece”, hiding the texture seam in the first original panel seam on the lower surface of the wing.

When the mesh is mapped on the reference picture, I use another, standard test picture to ensure that the mapped image is not deformed (Figure 60‑3):

Figure 60-3 Using the test image to check the mapping

At this moment I have already unwrapped most of the model (Figure 60‑4):

Figure 60-4 UV-mapping: the current state

I still have to unwrap the engine cowling. When I finish it, I will publish a full post about this process, as well as the updated model. (I think that I will do it on next Sunday: July 24th).

In this guide you can find detailed step-by-step instructions how to map various aircraft model meshes onto texture images, as well as all other details of “painting” the digital models.


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