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Creating a Low Poly Aeroplane Set for Games: Part 2

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

Marking the Seams

Step 1

Scondary-click on the plane and press Tab to enter edit mode. Click on the Edge
select mode
button.

Edge select mode
Edge select mode

Step 2

Press A on the keyboard to deselect any selected edges. 

Hold Shift
and then secondary-click on the edges where the wing starts, one by one, to
select them all.

Press Ctrl-E to bring out the Edges menu
and click on Mark Seams

You’ll notice that the selected edges turns
red. The seams are from where the mesh will get unstitched onto a flat UV map.

Select edges and mark them as seams
Select edges and mark them as seams

Step 3

Select the bottom edges of the wing as shown in the image. Press Ctrl-E and
click on Mark Seam.

Mark bottom edges as seams
Mark bottom edges as seams

Step 4

Select the edge loop form where the tail wing starts. Hold Shift and then
right click on the edges to select them. Press Ctrl-E and select Mark Seam.

Select edges and mark them as seams
Select edges and mark them as seams

Step 5

Select the bottom edge of the wing from all sides. Hold Shift and then right
click on the edges. Press Ctrl-E and click on Mark Seams.

Mark bottom edges as seams
Mark bottom edges as seams

Step 6

Press A to deselect the edges. Select the front edge loop at the engine. You
can hold Alt and secondary-click on any of the edge to select the edge loop.
Press Ctrl-E and select Mark Seam.

Select front edges and mark them as seam
Select front edges and mark them as seam

Step 7

Since the model actually half there is no need to mark the center loop as
seam. You can preview the half model by clicking on the eye button to toggle
on/off modifier preview in 3D view port.

Preview mirror modifier
Preview mirror modifier

Step 8

Press Tab to exit edit mode. Secondary-click on the propeller object to select
it.

Select propeller
Select propeller

Step 9

Press Tab to enter edit mode. Secondary-click on the side edge and mark it seam.
Select the front edge loop (full circle) and mark it as seam. Secondary-click to select and Ctrl-E
to Mark seam.

Select edges and mark seams
Select edges and mark seams

Press Tab to exit edit mode. Secondary-click on the plane to select it.

Exit edit mode
Exit edit mode

UV Mapping the Model

Step 1

Split the 3D viewport by dragging the corner with primary mouse button.

Split 3D viewport
Split 3D viewport into two

You’ll now have two 3D viewports.

Split 3D viewport into two
Split 3D viewport into two

In one of the 3D viewport, click on the Editor type button and select
UV/Image editor. The 3D viewport will change to UV editor.

Change editor type to UVImage Editor
Change editor type to UV/Image Editor

Step 2

  • In 3D viewport, press 3 in the number pad to get into side view. 
  • With the plane
    selected, press Tab to enter edit mode. 
  • Press Ctrl-Tab and select
    Face select
    mode. 
  • Move the mouse over the main body of the plane and press L. This will select
    the main body mesh which is separated by the seams. 
  • Press U on the keyboard to bring
    UV
    Mapping
    options. 
  • Select Project From View. This will unwrap the selected mesh as
    seen in the  , onto the UV Editor.
Select mesh and unwrap
Select mesh and unwrap

Step 3

In the UV Editor, hold Alt and then right click on the out edge of the mesh
to select the edge loop. 

Press S and then Y to scale it along the Y-axis
to loosen it a bit form the rest of the mesh.

Select the individual vertices on the
tail and move them away so that they don’t over lap on any other vertices or
edge. Do not move the inner vertices or edges. Only spread out the outer edge
loop.

Tweak the vertices in UV Editor
Tweak the vertices in UV Editor

Similarly secondary-click on the vertices on the front part and then press G to
move them away one by one.

Tweak the vertices in UV Editor
Tweak the front vertices in UV Editor

Step 4

In the 3D view port, press 7 on the number pad to get into top view. 

Select
Face
Select mode. 

Move the mouse over the wings top part and press L to select the
mesh separated by the seam. Check from bottom. Nothing else is should be
selected, only the top part of the wings.

Select top faces of wings
Select top faces of wings

Step 5

In top view, with the wings selected, press U to bring out UV Mapping
menu
and select Project from View. The wings are now project on to the UV Editor.

Unwrap selected faces
Unwrap selected faces

Step 6

Select the outer vertices and edges. Scale and move them away just a little bit so
that they are not getting overlapped by other edges. .

Tweak vertices in UV Editor
Tweak vertices in UV Editor

Step 7

In the 3D viewport, press Ctrl-7 to get into bottom view. Move the mouse over
the wings and press L to select them one by one. Press U and select
Project From
View
to unwrap them in the UV Editor.

UV Map bottom faces of wings
UV Map bottom faces of wings

Step 8

In the UV Editor, press A to select all vertices of the wings and press
G to
move them away form the grid. I did this because the UV mesh of all mesh will
land here and would overlap each other. So to avoid this move them from the
default position.

Move the vertices away from the grid
Move the vertices away from the grid

Step 9

In the 3D viewport, press A to deselect any selected face. Move the mouse
over the front part and press L to select it. Press U and select
Project From
View
to unwrap the selection onto the UV Editor.

UV map the front part
UV map the front part

Step 10

Select the outer edge and scale it. Move the selected loop to the side so
that it becomes parallel to the inner loop. Press A to select all vertices and
the G to move it away from the main grid.

Tweaking the vertices
Tweaking the vertices

Step 11

Press Tab to exit edit mode. Right click on the plane to select it and then
press Tab to enter edit mode. Press A to select all edges. You will see the UVs
in the UV Editor might be jumbled up or overlapping each other. 

Arrange all the island groups such that it fits neatly inside the grid. Keep some space for
the propeller UVs. The commands in the UV Editor are same as in 3D viewport:

  • Hover over any group and press L to select the group
  • Select any vertex or vertices of the group and press Ctrl+L to
    select the whole group with connecting vertices.
  • Hold Shift for multiple select.
  • A to deselect / Select all.
  • W to bring out the weld/Align menu
  • Right click to select any edge / vertices

Here are other editing commands for the UV editor, though they are same as in
3D view.

  • G to move
  • R to Rotate
  • S to scale
  • Zoom in/Zoom out – Mouse wheel.
  • Pan = Shift-Middle mouse button and drag.

To maximize the UV Editor, move the mouse over the UV Editor and press Ctrl-Up
Arrow
. Press Ctrl-Up arrow to toggle back.

Rearranging the UV groups
Rearranging the UV groups

Step 12

Press Tab to exit edit mode. Secondary-click on the propeller to select it and
press Tab to enter edit mode.

Select propeller and enter edit mode
Select propeller and enter edit mode

Step 13

Press A to select all vertices. Press U to bring the UV Mapping menu and
select Unwrap this time. You don’t need it to get projected from view.

Unwrap the propeller mesh
Unwrap the propeller mesh

Step 14

Move the UVs so that they have some space in between. Select the blade which
is facing the opposite direction and rotate it 180 degrees. 

Press R and
then type 180 to rotate
the selection 180 degrees. Adjust the edge loop of the front part as well as shown in the
image.

Move and tweak the UV map
Move and tweak the UV map

Step 15

Press A to select all vertices and then press S to scale it down. Press
G to
move them away from the grid.

Move and tweak the UV map
Move and tweak the UV map

Step 16

Press Tab to exit edit mode. Secondary-click on the plane to select it. Click on
the modifiers button in the properties window. Press the Apply button in the
Mirror modifier. This will generate the opposite side of the mesh.

Apply the mirror modifier
Apply the mirror modifier

Step 17

Hold Shift and secondary-click on the propeller and then the plane. Press
Ctrl-J
to join them.

Join propeller and plane model
Join propeller and plane model

Step 18

Press Tab to enter edit mode. In the 3D view, press A to select all vertices,
so that UV maps of the whole mesh appear in the UV Editor.

Rearrange UV maps
Rearrange UV maps

Step 19

Move and adjust the propeller UVs inside the grid. 

Press A to deselect the
vertices, move the mouse over any of the UV island and press L to select it and
G to move. 

To see more commands and shortcuts, go to step 11.

Rearrange the vertices
Rearrange the vertices

Step 20

When done, Click on the UVs menu and select Export UV Layout. This will be
the guidelines to paint textures in the painting program.

Export UV Layout
Export UV Layout

Select the PNG Format and decrease the Fill Opacity to 0.00.
I kept the default size of 1024×1024 pixels.

Export settings
Export settings

Step 21

Now we will bake the Ambient Occlusion data onto the image. This will add
shadow information to a new image, which will be helpful while painting texture
in paint program. 

In the UV Editor, press
New button to create a new image onto which you will bake the AO data.

Create new image
Create new image

I changed the size to 1024×1024 pixels. Press OK.

Image settings
Image settings

A new image is added in the UV Editor.

Default black image
Default black image

Step 22

In the 3D view, press A to select all vertices and then press W to bring the
Specials menu. Select Shade smooth. This will give smooth look to the model.

Set mesh to Shade Smooth
Set mesh to Shade Smooth
  • Press A to deselect the vertices. 
  • Select only the propeller blades and
    center. 
  • Move the mouse over the mesh of the propeller and press L to select each 
    blade and the center part. 
  • Press 3 in the number pad to get into side view. 
  • Move the selection away from the plane temporarily so that their shadow does not
    appear on the plane, while baking the AO data. 
  • Press Tab to exit edit mode.
Move the propeller away
Move the propeller away

Step 23

Click on the World settings button in the properties window. In the Gather
panel, increase the Samples to 15. Higher value will give smooth and noiseless
results.

Ambient Occlusion settings
Ambient Occlusion settings

Step 24

  • Click on the Render settings button in the properties window. 
  • In the Bake
    panel, Select Ambient Occlusion in the Bake Mode
  • Tick the Normalized checkbox. 
  • Set Margin to 12 or 16 pixels.
Bake settings
Bake settings

Press the Bake button. After few seconds the image will be updated. In
the 3D View, press Alt-Z to view the model with textured applied. Use Alt-Z
again to toggle back to shaded view.

Ambient Occlusion baked on an image
Ambient Occlusion baked on an image

Step 25

In the UV Editor, click on the Image menu and select Save As Image to save
the image.

Save Image
Save Image

In the Save As Image panel, select PNG file format. Choose RGBA to save
transparent image without black background. 

Type in the name for the file and
press the Save button.

Save image as png
Save image as png

Texturing and Painting

Step 1

Open the image with Baked AO data, in your favorite image editor. You can use
Gimp or Photoshop.

Open image in Gimp
Open image in Gimp

In a new layer on top, put the UV Layout you exported.

Add UV layer
Add UV layer

Step 2

Create a new layer in between the Wire and AO layer. This will be the layer
on which you can paint the texture. You can create more layers for painting but
keep them between the Wire and AO Layers.

Add another layer in between
Add another layer in between

Step 3

Paint the texture with the wire-frame as guidelines.

Paint colors in a separate layer
Paint colors in a separate layer

Step4

Add another layer and draw the detail lines. Paste the logos/symbols in
their own layer.

Add details and logo
Add details and logo

Step 5

Set the paint layer to Multiply or hard light or overlay. You will notice the
AO layer will give a nice shadow effect. You can adjust the levels/contrast of
the AO layer to decrease the intensity of shades. 

Save the image in .psd format.
Turn off the layer visibility for the UV wire layer and export it to .png or
jpeg format.

Layer settings
Layer settings

Step 6

In 3D viewport (in Blender) and in the edit mode, select all vertices of the
plane by pressing A key. Open your exported PNG image, in the UV Editor.

Open exported image
Open exported image

Step 7

If you don’t see the texture on the model in the 3D view, Press Alt-Z
to enable Texture View Mode.

Texture map applied to object
Texture map applied to object

Step 8

With the plane selected, click on the Materials button in the properties
window and click on the New button to assign a new material. 

Rename the
material. In the shading panel, check the Shadeless Tickbox. Since I have baked
the Ambient Occlusion data onto the texture, I can set the material to be
shadeless.

Uncheck it if you want to have dynamic light and shades onto the
object. You can also turn off the AO layer while painting texture in Photoshop
or Gimp and export only the colour map.

Material settings
Material settings

Step 9

Click on the Texture button in the properties window. Press the New button.
Rename the texture to whatever you want. In the Image panel, open and
browse for the texture image. 

In the Mapping panel, make sure to select
UV for Coordinates.

Texture settings
Texture settings

Creating Variations

Step 1

Turn off the visibility of the painted layer. Add another layer and create
paint with different colour scheme. Export the image with different name in jpg
or png format.

Add new layer in Gimp
Add new layer in Gimp

Step 2

In Blender, ensure you are in object mode. Press Tab to exit edit mode.
Secondary-click on the plane to select it. Press Shift-D to make a duplicate. Move
the mouse and primary-click to confirm.

Duplicate the object
Duplicate the object

Step 3

Press Tab to enter edit mode. In the UV Editor, click on the Image menu and
Open the new exported image.

Open exported image
Open exported image

Step 4

With the new duplicated plane selected, press the Materials button in the
properties window. Click on the number against the name of the material to make
it a duplicate for the new model. Rename the material.

Material Settings
Material Settings

Step 5

Click on the texture button in the properties window. Click on the number
button to make a new copy of the texture for this new model. 

Rename the texture.
In the Image panel, browse for the new image.

Texture Settings
Texture Settings

Step 6

The aeroplane set is now ready for the game.

Airplane ready for games
Airplane ready for games