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   UV Texture Mapping a Head in LW6.0

 There are many different techniques for laying out UV Texture coordinates in combination with material properties to create a surface for your models. I generally address methods that pertain specifically to the game design community, however, anyone in 3-D Design may find them useful. Having said that, I will not be going "Hog Wild" with layers upon layers of UV Textured surface channels, rather I'll make a single UV map to hand over to a 2-D artist, commonly referred to as a "Skinner". That artist would then create a single color 256x256 "skin" image for the UVmap. We do this ONLY because our game design discipline requires certain restrictions in memory and image space.

In this tutorial, I'll present one very simple technique to UV texture map a head within NewTek's Lightwave 6.0. This tutorial will not go over Polymaps.

Like always, if you have not done so, please read Customizing LW 6.0 Workflow , because I may take certain things for granted in regards to menu layout and installed plugins.

Let's Begin...
When modeling a head, I model both the left and right sides totally symmetric. I can always drag verts around and edit the geometry later to make the face more naturally asymmetrical, after I set up the UVmap.

STEP 1: In a single layer, place only the portions of your head object that are symmetrical along the X axis and excluding the inside of the mouth. Now cut your head in half, deleting one side. You can manually select and cut or you can use Quick Delete (Multiply > Replicate > Quick Delete > Delete Left).

STEP 2: Assign all the remaining polygons to one single surface by typing the Q key and naming the surface. And at this point, you should put your viewports into the UV editing configuration. If you have my Modeler config, simply type the Numeric Pad 3 key (Dual View : UV Editor).

STEP 3: Assign UV Coordinates with Make UV (VMap > Texture > Make UV). Set the projection method to Cylindrical. Now put Settings on Manual, so that you can set the Center X back to 0. Hit the OK key to create your UVMap. You should now see it on the right side viewport. (I suggest you repeat this step using the Spherical method to see which gives you a better result for your particular mesh.)

STEP 4: Type the a key to fit all. You will notice that your mesh is not using all of its supplied UV Texture space. We do not want wasted pixel space in our image maps so simply use Normalize to expand and fit the mesh within the allotted space. (VMap > Texture > Edit UV > UV-Normalize)

STEP 5: In the Surface Editor, assign the Color Texture Projection method to UV, select your UVmap and load up a reference image. I suggest a checkerboard image. This way you can see exactly how your new UV coordinates correspond to the pixel real estate of your bitmap. You want the grid pattern to be as uniform as possible to minimize pixel distortion. You'll have to drag, stretch, & rotate UV points or clusters of UV points to achieve this; especially under the jaw, at the top & back of the head & around the ears.

When limited to using small image maps, remember it is your prerogative not to adhere to uniform pixel usage and give features like the eyes, nose, lips and ears more pixel real estate. In the UVediting window, Play around with using your modify:deform tools like Magnet, Pole and DragNet on these areas . Think of your UV mesh as a piece of stretchy fabric that you could stretch out any way you like and paint on, when you were done the fabric would snap back to its original shape. If you wanted to, you could stretch out the points, pin them down and paint more detail on those polygons. Remembering that there is only so much space, stretching areas will minimizes others. The smaller the checker grid on your model in the perspective window, the more pixel detail on those polygons.

You can also assign you texture image as the backdrop to your UV window by typing the d key to open the Display Options. Under the Backdrop tab menu, select the image for the Right Viewport. Adjust the Brightness and Contrast to help wire mesh stand out off the backdrop.

STEP 6: Finally back in a quad viewport (Numeric Pad 8 > Quad View : Texture Perspective) With all your UV's set the way you want them, use Mirror (Multiply > Replicate > Mirror) to make the head full again. You will notice that your UV's will stay put. If you wish, you can edit the geometry mesh on the mirrored side to make the face asymmetrical.

Well, there you have it!

Although you can setup UV texture coordinates within Lightwave now, you can still use some 3rd party utilities to get the job done. Some of these 3rd party tools are a lot more powerful in some respects. They include;

SCC's FREE beta of UVMapper -

Cinegraphic's UView -

Right Hemisphere's Texture Weapons -


If you use UVMapper, you'll first have to export your model out of Lightwave in the Wavefront OBJ file format (Additional > Import-Export > Export_OBJ). Create your UVmap in UVMapper and save it over itself. Then load the OBJ back into Lightwave (File > Load Object...)

If you use UView, you will want to download D-Storm's Importer for LW6.0b modeler... UView Import (build v1.1.1) Use UView on exported LW5.5 lwo files & Import UView objects into LW6.0b by loading the .uv file.

Texture Weapons for Deep Paint can save files in LW6's lwo format.


-last updated on 09.30.00-

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