Displacement Bump Normal

Mudbox: Texturing


This class is a quick overview of the texturing process in Mudbox for SubD object workflow. We’ll be sculpting and extracting displacement and normal maps, painting bump maps and converting them to normal maps. We’ll touch on colour painting and linking to Photoshop. Finally we’ll come back into Maya and apply a few of these maps in Renderman.

It’s important to talk about Mudbox’s place in the 3d production pipeline. Mudbox is a great 3d texturing and sculpting program because of it’s dual purpose workflow in both sculpting and texturing. This makes it an ideal choice for beginning to explore texturing. In comparison ZBrush is a great sculptor, but it’s polypaint leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to layering textures. Other programs like Mari and Substance Painter are great texture packages but both lack sculpting. Since it’s free for students and especially easy to learn makes it a great starting point.

A quick note that many students expect to paint entirely in Mudbox, when in reality it’s worthwhile considering texturing in combination with Photoshop. Very easy to do in Mudbox and often I’ll use Mudbox as a starting point for roughing out masks and then do a lot of the grunt work in Photoshop. Photoshop’s made for texture and photographic manipulation so by using it’s powerful toolset in combination with Mudbox it’s easier to get great results.

Also important to understand is that here we’re learning a workflow for subD rendering not low poly games workflow. You can render in any package with this workflow but for games we’d use a different setup, though it’s very similar to what’s shown here and some of you might be able to figure on your own. There’s not a lot of information around about the correct extration of normal and displacement maps for film and TV. It’s also good to know that while we’re talking about software packages Mudbox’s smooth algorithym matches Maya and Renderman’s Catmull Clarke approximation. Other programs such as ZBrush don’t match the subDs in Maya, so using base meshes for displacement workflow is fraught with problems of accuracy in some other packages. Luckily in Mudbox it’s all very straight forward so lets get started.


Mudbox UV and Sculpt Setup (4 mins)

Very important to setup the scene with correct UV settings in Mudbox to match Maya. Then we duplicate our objects for map extraction later.

Video 1.1: Send To Mudbox and UV Settings (1:31 mins)

Video Notes

Sending objects to Mudbox and an important couple of checkboxes so that we match Maya’s UV smooth settings.

Video 1.2: Setup SubD Map Workflow (3:28 mins)

Video Notes

Setting up the scene ready for the map extraction we’ll use later.


Sculpting (9 mins)

Now we’ll quickly cover Mudbox’s sculpt tools. We’ll be using sculpt layers for full control and we cover the transfer details tool, this is handy when we forget to use the layers.

We’ll look at the basic sculpting brushes including a couple of important mudbox sculpting tips.

Video 2.1: Sculpting with Wax and Flatten (3:56 mins)

Video Notes

Getting Starting with Sculpting using my favorite brush the “wax brush” and also flatten and pinch. Pinching is the common brush in Mudbox that enables us to create sharp edges.

Video 2.2: Transfering Details to Sculpt Layers (1:58 mins)

Video Notes

Transfering details from one mesh to another. This example is helpful when I forgot to use a sculpt layer.

Video 2.3: Concept Sculpting Differences and Alternative to the Knife Tool (3:19 mins)

Video Notes

We find how this “subd” workflow is different from “concept sculpting” workflow and we look at a neat alternative to the knife brush.


Bump Maps (14 mins)

Bump maps are very handy for fine detail and we can paint them easily. Rather than sculpting with ultra high poly counts we can use bump maps for efficiency. We can also convert bump maps to normal maps if desired.

Video 3.1: Bump Maps And Using Stencils (9:13 mins)

Video Notes

How to paint bump maps in Mudbox.

Video 3.2: Bump Maps to Normal Maps And 8 bit Colour Issues (5:34 mins)

Video Notes

Here we find how to convert bump maps into normal maps. We’ll also see the stepping effect from using 8 bit textures and some simple solutions to this problem.


Extracting Displacement And Normal Maps (14 mins)


Video 4.1: Extracting Displacement Maps in Mudbox (7:27 mins)

Video Notes

Extracting the displacement map.

Video 4.2: Checking Displacement Maps in Mudbox (2:11 mins)

Video Notes

Checking the displacement map.

Video 4.3: Extracting Normal Maps in Mudbox (4:22 mins)

Video Notes

Extracting the normal map.


Optimising for Colour Textures and Photoshop Workflow (8 mins)

Photoshop is a great program to use in conjunction with Mudbox. Here we do a little bit of cleanup on our sculpt to optimise it for texturing the other maps. Usually I’ll start by texturing the displacement details first and then move onto bump and then colour and specular. You can mix it up of course but this order gets nice results since we usually want to get the geometry details sorted first before the textures.

Video 5.1: Optimising The Sculpted Scene for Texturing (4:23 mins)

Video Notes

It’s good practice to flatten all the sculpt layers to increase memory for texturing.

Video 5.2: Photoshop Send to Features (3:52 mins)

Video Notes

Exporting maps to Photoshop from Mudbox is found through the right click menu in the texture area.

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