Basic Texturing - Part 1(Photoshop)
A beginners guide to texturing
This workshop is going to walk you through the basics of creating textures for a simple dagger in Photoshop and hopefully share some helpful hints & tips along the way. Even for a simple tutorial, it is a long process, be prepared.
Please note: This is a very simple process of texturing to understand the basic techniques of layering and blending to create effects and give character to textures.
There are a hundred other ways to texture for advanced users. This is a beginners guide.
Photoshop with NVIDIA dds plugin
Basic working knowledge of Photoshop
Basic knowledge of Nifskope
The dagger mesh and texture pack -- download here.
Most of the techniques could also apply to GIMP.
If you don’t know the relationship of textures and meshes, start with this Texturing Oblivion tutorial, or Texturing Skyrim tutorial.
The first thing to do before starting to texture anything is to have an idea of what you want the object to look like. This can’t be stressed enough. Plan ahead. Will it be blue, green or yellow? Will it have polka dots or swirly patterns? Does it need shadows and highlights and where?
There’s thousands of questions, but only you can decide how you want the final product to look like. Try googling some images for ideas and search free texture sites for samples.
In this tutorial the final design is set and the steps will show you how to achieve that.
Step 1: The UV layout
First we need a layout of the UV map as a guide to position our textures for certain areas of our object. Unpack the related Texture Pack somewhere you can easily find it and open simpledagger.nif in Nifskope. Click anywhere on the dagger. You’ll see the UV map that came from Blender (or 3ds or Maya). You’ll also notice there is only one NiTriStrips, or one UV. One UV = one texture file.
More advanced meshes use more than one NiTriStrips (and therefore can use more than one texture file) and each part needs to follow this process individually.
We need to extract this UV map into a file (if you haven’t already from your 3D modeling software) that we can use in Photoshop as our roadmap.
Right click on the dagger. Select Texture > Export Template.
A popup will open. Click on File and navigate to the folder where you want the file to go and name it dagger.tga. Click Save.
Back in the popup, select Size 512. Leave the other options as is. Click Ok. We now have our UV layout saved.
Step 2: The texture - UV layer
Open Photoshop. Create a new document 512x512. Leave the background white, it’s easier.
In the Layers panel, right click on Background layer and select Layer from Background. Click Ok to name it Layer 0. Now Duplicate the layer to Layer 1. This is our starting point for base layers. Layer 0 is now our failsafe layer in case we mess up.
Click File > Open and navigate to dagger.tga that we just created. Select the Magic Wand tool and then Select > Color Range. In the popup, click anywhere on the white background, click Ok so that the white is highlighted.
Click Select > Inverse to change the selection to the black outline of our UV layout.
Click Edit > Copy, return to the new document we created and Edit > Paste. We now have a transparent layer with the UV outline to use as our guide. Always leave this as the top layer as we progress. You can turn it off and on (click on the eye) if it gets in the way.
You can close out the dagger.tga file, we’re done with it.
Now we should name and save our document. Click File > Save > name it simpledagger.psd.
Step 3: The texture - Groups
At this point we’re going to separate each component of the dagger into groups, so that we can work on each differently.
Let’s understand what we’re looking at.
We have 4 sections that will be textured differently therefore we can’t slap one texture onto our document and call it done. Just like the picture, separate each section into it’s own layer using the Rectangle Marquee tool.
Working on Layer 1, select a square around each component, Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste. Leave some room around each component but don’t worry if the blank spaces overlap.
We should now have 5 layers of white squares. I’ve added colour here just to see each piece. Don’t colour yours - yet.
Under the Layers panel are a bunch of icons. Find the one called “Create a new Group” (third from the right) and click on it. A folder called Group 1 will be created. Change the name to Blade, and drag Layer 2 (or whichever layer is your blade outline) over it. The layer should fall into the folder.
Do this again for each of our 4 components, naming them appropriately. We should now have this.
Save the .psd. Save often.
We’re now ready to actually start on the textures.
Step 1: Blade Base layer
Click on the Group folder labeled Blade. You can click on the arrow beside it to expand or fold up all the layers within the group. Expand it for now and fold up the other Groups. We’ll be working within this Group only.
Click File > Open and open bladebase.jpg. We’ll be working with this texture for both our base and our rustic overlay layers.
Using the Rectangular Marquee tool, select an area that’s clean metal. It does not need to be a large selection, remember the size of our blade. This is the area I chose for it’s highlights and lowlights as well as the spotty worn marks for character.
(Don’t select anything with the coloured portions, we’re using that for an overlay in the next step)
Click Edit > Copy. Return to our file simpledagger.psd, click Edit > Paste. Move the section over to our blade. Make sure the section is wide enough to go outside the UV layout outline, adjust if necessary.
Now we’ll tweak it a little.
Make a Hue/Saturation layer mask and desaturate to -65.
Make a Brightness/Contrast layer mask and turn brightness up to +15.
Step 2: Blade Overlay layer
Switch back to bladebase.jpg. Using the Rectangular Marquee tool, select an area with the reddish colour spots. Make it slightly smaller than the size of the base layer. This is the area I chose.
Click Edit > Copy. Return to our file simpledagger.psd, click Edit > Paste. Move the selection over to our blade. Make sure the section is skinny enough to fit inside the UV layout outline, adjust if necessary. We want the edges of our blade to show from the base layer. It won’t all fit due to the shape but we’ll fix that later. Let the tip of the blade remain covered. It might look odd now but we’ll adjust it.
Change Blend mode to Multiply, and lower Opacity down to 75.
Make a Hue/Saturation layer mask locked to this layer and saturate +40, set hue -3.
Make a Brightness/Contrast layer mask locked to this layer and set brightness +15.
Step 3: Adjustments - Finishing the Blade
Select the Eraser tool, with an 80% flow, hard brush at 13px size. On the Overlay layer, erase just inside the edge of the UV layout, from about halfway down where the base blade layer shows down to the tip on both sides. It doesn’t have to be perfect, used weapons have lots of imperfections.
Select the Dodge tool, set at 75%, soft brush at 13px size. On the Overlay layer, run some highlights down the center of the blade only. Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect, leave some spaces, make some spots wider (but not too wide).
Select the Blur tool, set at 60% strength. On the Overlay layer, run it softly over the hard edges of this layer to blend nicer with the base layer.
Go to File > Save As and save the texture so far as simpledagger.dds. Load up the mesh in Nifskope and apply the texture to see it. Go back to the .psd and adjust if necessary.
Smarty Says: Keep Nifskope open in the background to view your progress as you work. You can save as dds at any time to update it.
Save the .psd. Save often.
Close out any .jpg files we’re finished with.
Moving on to the guard this tutorial is continued in Basic Texturing - Part 2.