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Exurbanite

Exurb's Main Street Americana Collection | Custom LOD Creation Guide Released

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Hey all, this is my first time posting on the C:S forum. Being an architecture student and urban design enthusiast, I have come to love this game and the fruits of its massive modding community. I've decided to dive into asset creation myself a couple weeks ago by learning Blender and model importation into C:S with the ultimate goal of creating a collection of "Main Street"-style American storefront assets.

After a frustrating week and a half, I successfully uploaded a test model with a diffuse texture a couple days ago into the asset editor. Following tutorials on YouTube and elsewhere, I created a diffuse map via baking, but as you all can see (and I have later found out) this method should only be used for making LODs as the quality in game is pretty bad. Ideally, the model should be textured like this.

Right now I'm kind of at a loss of what to do next in order to create an acceptable texture map for my first building. My question is how would I make a quality textured UV map in Blender that can be exported directly into the game? Another way to phrase this question is what is the procedure for creating finished UV maps such as these from the author Avanya? Or am I forced to export the UV layouts to gimp/photoshop and texture them there? I know there are many skilled authors with knowledge of Blender modeling and texturing that frequent here, so I ask if at least one could guide me through this rough patch; it would be massively appreciated. 

Here's a pic of my model's untextured uv map in Blender. What should be my next move?

Thanks in advance, If I can figure out how to remedy this issue I look forward to contributing to the C:S community.       

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Best way to do this is to make the texture for a certain element in a seperate program and than uv map accordingly. You can than copy that uv mapped element around in Blender. So texture first, than uvmap.

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1 hour ago, Darf said:

Best way to do this is to make the texture for a certain element in a seperate program and than uv map accordingly. You can than copy that uv mapped element around in Blender. So texture first, than uvmap.

I prefer the UV first approach. Then you can export a drawing of the UV layout and add/create the textures in GIMP or Photoshop.

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29 minutes ago, boformer said:

I prefer the UV first approach. Then you can export a drawing of the UV layout and add/create the textures in GIMP or Photoshop.

You can only do that if you use textures, between 0 , 1 coordinates.

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The way I do it is kinda a mix between what Darf and Boformer describe. I sort out the UVs in Blender, overlap bits I want to overlap and give everything a rough place on the UV. Then I export the UV and pull it into Photoshop and fill in the larger areas (wall textures and roof texture) and load the texture in Blender to see how it looks. I do that to get the scale of things like brick right and see if I like the base textures I picked. Often I'll rescale some of the UVs, do more or less overlapping and move stuff around. Then I start adding details in Photoshop. I prefer doing the texture work in Photoshop as I love working in layers - plus I've used Photoshop longer than Blender, so I'm much more familiar with it. :P

Something which I'll also recommend is you turn down saturation and brightness about 50% on your texture - the game's lighting makes the textures look very different than in Blender, so if you got it to look right in Blender it will look brighter and oversaturated in the game. Also make sure your textures are the proper resolutions (see this for examples) - odd texture sizes get scaled by the game and often get fussy.

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At what texture resolution are you running your game? Anything other than high will downsize your textures in the asset editor. Keep this in mind when first saving your asset too, as it will stay that way in game.

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  • Original Poster
  • Thanks for your responses, everyone.

    8 hours ago, Darf said:

    Best way to do this is to make the texture for a certain element in a seperate program and than uv map accordingly. You can than copy that uv mapped element around in Blender. So texture first, than uvmap.i

    I have already made some textures in gimp before applying them to the model in Blender via materials (signs, windows, and doors mostly), if that's what you mean.  The way I added the textures was to assign a material to an element and then load an image as a texture within that material, and then move it around a bit in the UV/Image editor (I followed the texturing steps in this video all the way to the baking process). The problem comes when I have to place all the uv unwrapped elements neatly on the UV grid, as it distorts all the textures.

    7 hours ago, boformer said:

    I prefer the UV first approach. Then you can export a drawing of the UV layout and add/create the textures in GIMP or Photoshop.

    I did attempt exporting the uv layout & texturing in gimp, but whenever I try to scale down a high-res seamless texture layer (from textures.com) to fit an element over the uv layout, it pixelates horribly. I understand the process you're talking about, but I can't seem to preserve the image quality when scaling down. I have a UV layout ready to go into gimp, I just need to find out how to rescale an image without pixelation -- unless I'm doing this process very wrong. Any pointers?

    4 hours ago, Avanya said:

    The way I do it is kinda a mix between what Darf and Boformer describe. I sort out the UVs in Blender, overlap bits I want to overlap and give everything a rough place on the UV. Then I export the UV and pull it into Photoshop and fill in the larger areas (wall textures and roof texture) and load the texture in Blender to see how it looks. I do that to get the scale of things like brick right and see if I like the base textures I picked. Often I'll rescale some of the UVs, do more or less overlapping and move stuff around. Then I start adding details in Photoshop. I prefer doing the texture work in Photoshop as I love working in layers - plus I've used Photoshop longer than Blender, so I'm much more familiar with it. :P

    Something which I'll also recommend is you turn down saturation and brightness about 50% on your texture - the game's lighting makes the textures look very different than in Blender, so if you got it to look right in Blender it will look brighter and oversaturated in the game. Also make sure your textures are the proper resolutions (see this for examples) - odd texture sizes get scaled by the game and often get fussy.

    What exactly do you mean by "give everything a rough place in Blender"? That's the part I am lost on -- I can't figure out how to apply textures to the model using the uv layout without baking them into an image and applying that onto the model as a material. If you don't mind, could I get a brief step-by-step guide? I feel like I'm close to figuring this out, but I'm missing a couple vital details. 

    Regarding pic resolutions, I made sure all seamless pictures were at least 1024 x 1024, and other element pics were at least 600. Regarding the diffuse map, it was 1024 x 1024. For this map I smart-uv-projected all the unwrapped, properly textured elements onto the grid before baking. Not the most effective method, I know now.  

    Also, thanks for the photoshop tips. 

    3 hours ago, Lee Towers said:

    At what texture resolution are you running your game? Anything other than high will downsize your textures in the asset editor. Keep this in mind when first saving your asset too, as it will stay that way in game.

    I made sure to run everything on high in the asset editor. I know it's not the game because I could see a marked decrease in the diffuse texture quality after baking.    

     

    Here is my materials/uv map list and my general uv layout with textures placed as I want on the model. What do I do now with the materials? How do I place the uv islands properly on the grid for exporting without moving any of the textures on the model in the process? I saw one video showing the "apply scale" option while uv unwrapping w/ textures to attain proper orientation. Should I be using this command somehow? 

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    • You only have 1 texture/material you need: your diffuse map. You paint everything on that with a graphic editor.
    • No need to bake anything. Unless you want to bake/render a certain element. Than you render that on very high resolution and transfer it to your diffuse.
    • Here´s an example of diffuse and uv map for this building: https://sketchfab.com/models/5f5a49ae16894e58aae70826783d1d59

    Clipboard02.jpg

    Chicago Building_d.jpg

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  • Original Poster
  • 1 hour ago, Darf said:
    • You only have 1 texture/material you need: your diffuse map. You paint everything on that with a graphic editor.
    • No need to bake anything. Unless you want to bake/render a certain element. Than you render that on very high resolution and transfer it to your diffuse.
    • Here´s an example of diffuse and uv map for this building: https://sketchfab.com/models/5f5a49ae16894e58aae70826783d1d59

    Clipboard02.jpg

    Chicago Building_d.jpg

    So if I understand your points correctly, I can construct a single image in gimp/photoshop composed of each of my building textures, and when in Blender apply one material to the whole building using that image as its texture, open it in the uv/image editor, and unwrap each element onto its corresponding texture piece (overlapping/snapping as needed) in that image?

    I'm sorry but I couldn't glean much more from your diffuse texture/uv map as I am utterly foreign to 3DS Max. 

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    7 minutes ago, Exurbanite said:

    So if I understand your points correctly, I can construct a single image in gimp/photoshop composed of each of my building textures, and when in Blender apply one material to the whole building using that image as its texture, open it in the uv/image editor, and unwrap each element onto its corresponding texture piece (overlapping/snapping as needed) in that image?

    I'm sorry but I couldn't glean much more from your diffuse texture/uv map as I am utterly foreign to 3DS Max. 

    Exactly!

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  • 3 minutes ago, Darf said:

    Exactly!

    Awesome, thanks for your help, Darf. One more thing before I remake my diffuse texture, though: does it matter how large the texture image is when I import it into Blender and start unwrapping, or do I compress it into 1024*2 at the very end when I export the finished uv map?

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    1 minute ago, Exurbanite said:

    Awesome, thanks for your help, Darf. One more thing before I remake my diffuse texture, though: does it matter how large the texture image is when I import it into Blender and start unwrapping, or do I compress it into 1024*2 at the very end when I export the finished uv map?

    No need to export it from blender, you can directly use the diffuse. So start with a 1024*2 map and just save that with _d from gimp/photoshop. When you export the .fbx from blender it should save the coordinates, not the actual diffuse.

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  • Original Poster
  • Model Update:

    So far I've finished the diffuse texture. The roof doesn't look great now; the texture I chose was to resemble the TPO material found on the model's real-world counterpart. With different lighting, normal mapping, and some a/c and vent props it should look decent, though. I'm satisfied with the texturing of the rest of the model, however, I am getting some visible seam lines between textured faces in my Blender model and in game (notice the walls):

    Any way I could iron this out? I made doubly sure that my uv maps were cleanly within each texture space, so I know it's not that. Would greatly appreciate more help from you guys before proceeding to normals, specs, etc.  

    In case anyone is curious, the model is based on this corner building in Evanston, WY:

     

     

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    Looks weirdly sharp, but only guess is the texture is bleeding over the edge.

    How many pixels away from another texture are the UV edges of those walls?

    If there are very different textures right next to each other, it's very noticeable and might even take 10px of padding to get rid of.

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  • 9 hours ago, Ronyx69 said:

    Looks weirdly sharp, but only guess is the texture is bleeding over the edge.

    How many pixels away from another texture are the UV edges of those walls?

    If there are very different textures right next to each other, it's very noticeable and might even take 10px of padding to get rid of.

    Well, see for yourself. Here's the uv mapping and diffuse. Many of the uv faces don't even go all the way to the edge of each texture, so I don't see why it would be showing seams. 

    Untitled.jpg.cb671ad9ce8b745c84a76ddbb682e7c9.jpg

    test2_d.png.1bfb0640a1c24ccf717c49ad1a63f6d0.png

    I guess I could make another diffuse and space out the wall and roof textures a bit more since those are the problem areas. 

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    The place where the red brick and white roof meets, that's a prime example of texture bleeding issues.

    The same goes for where the white bricks meets the dark background, that will definitely bleed over to the brick.

    The UV goes very close to those edges.

    Refer to an example from a crop of one of my textures:

    8jUvHvb.png

    17px padding to prevent bleeding, that much is not needed but in this almost white vs. almost black scenario it might be.

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  • Original Poster
  • Ah I see, so the strategy is to group similarly colored textures together. So to resolve this I should just move some of the textures around on the diffuse and give the more contrasting ones a fading border? 

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  • Original Poster
  • Starting working on my texturing again, this time with much better results. Texture bleeding is nearly all gone in blender and in game, but on white textures I still get some black edge bleeding at very oblique angles. I think this might be caused by my makeshift edge padding which I made by giving images a glow effect using a color that most closely matches it.

     Is there a special way I can pad properly in gimp by extending or cloning the pixels of the image textures? I'm probably overthinking this but the method I'm using now just doesn't seem correct.

    Edit: 

    I seem to have answered my own question by finding a solidify filter for gimp. Is this a method commonly used by you guys for edge padding? 

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  • Original Poster
  • Well I just got through the second most tricky part of asset creation: normal mapping.

    After replacing and cleaning up some of my diffuse textures I managed to make a pretty decent normal map (at least in my eyes).

    I do have a couple small problem areas, though. the lighting on a couple sections of walls is brighter than the sections above at certain angles and lighting. This only occurs once I apply my normal map to my model. 

     

    Any ideas what could have caused this and how I can fix it? Completely lost here and would appreciate help. 

    Also thought I might add my new and vastly improved diffuse texture. I cut it down to 512x1024 from 1024*2 which made uv mapping a whole lot easier.

     test3_d.png.1fba65e031c6f1665b424384fb5dc769.png

    EDIT: I resolved the lighting issue by reflipping uvs in Blender, must have been reading the normals upside down or something. 

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    Based on your screenshot I'm not sure you really have a problem. You've placed the sun so that the wall is lit at a very oblique angle so you can admire your normal map work. At that angle even a tiny movement of the sun changes the look of the wall by a lot. Because the bottom is read from the normal map in the opposite direction as the other faces that make up the wall, tiny rounding errors make that the bottom of the wall is rendered slightly differently. In the game this is rare and will pass quickly as the sun keeps moving so you'll rarely notice this.

     

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    From the signs in your texture map, I'm liking where your asset is headed. I like real-life branding, and I'm always glad to see more strip mall type assets. They're so common in real life, it's hard to create a realistic city without a ton of them.

    I hope you get your issue worked out.

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  • 8 hours ago, boformer said:

    It's hard to tell without seeing your normal map.

    I should have added that in my previous post, apologies.

    test3_n.png.392dcdbc7ff35bb82378c562725ae844.png

    6 hours ago, Epic Lurker said:

    Based on your screenshot I'm not sure you really have a problem. You've placed the sun so that the wall is lit at a very oblique angle so you can admire your normal map work. At that angle even a tiny movement of the sun changes the look of the wall by a lot. Because the bottom is read from the normal map in the opposite direction as the other faces that make up the wall, tiny rounding errors make that the bottom of the wall is rendered slightly differently. In the game this is rare and will pass quickly as the sun keeps moving so you'll rarely notice this.

     

    You might be right, the lighting issue only became obvious when I positioned the sun at the "golden hours". At high noon it looks fine, albeit a bit washed out.

    1 hour ago, Matthias King said:

    From the signs in your texture map, I'm liking where your asset is headed. I like real-life branding, and I'm always glad to see more strip mall type assets. They're so common in real life, it's hard to create a realistic city without a ton of them.

    I hope you get your issue worked out.

    That's exactly my goal is to create realistic "filler" buildings.

    It's not exactly a strip mall, it's a modern wall-to-wall commercial corner building meant to blend in with older-style American storefronts. My plan is to make a collection of these storefronts like you would see in a historic core of a smaller city or town -- a type of asset clearly lacking in the workshop. 

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    That might be even better. I'm in need of that kind of building as well to fill out my Historic Oldtown, so bring 'em on! I just hope they're light on the file size. My computer's choking on assets at this point.

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  • Original Poster
  • I knew people were in need of this kind of asset so I'm more than willing to fill the niche... I'm quite partial to those old storefronts for some reason. 

    In regards to size, this building is less than 400 tris and will be around 2 mb total when it's done. The other models I'm planning should be even smaller. 

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  • Original Poster
  • I'm still having issues with the differently lit normals. The problem sections look fine in shadow and direct sunlight, but at oblique angles the lighting issue is obvious.

    It appears at night, too. Each of the walls is separated into 4 parallel faces.

    On the back wall only one face is differently lit

     And on the side wall the 2 bottom faces are differently lit. Any ideas?

    It's not that big of a deal if I can't fix them  since both of the problem areas will be concealed by other wall to wall buildings, but I would feel bad releasing it on the workshop in this condition. 

    EDIT: Problem resolved, see above. 

    While I'm at it I might add a preview of the entire building. Spec and illum maps are done, but I'm thinking about changing the nightlights into something similar to this.  Also, is there a way to light up the allstate box sign on the front during night? I used a value of 120 but it kept it lit during the daytime as well.

    Untitled.png.f43f04968057a9e7e83fc8649d9a0a8a.png 

    Bench and plant props are for screenshot purposes. I'm keeping the roof props on the final model. 

     

     

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    That's looking very nice. Dead simple and plain, but that's exactly what I'm looking for. There are so many of those dotted around a typical downtown.

    My only critique would be the bricks could probably be a bit darker. I'm not sure if it's the light, but I was thinking a nice muted brown.

    I'm looking forward to seeing this on the workshop, and seeing what you have in store next.

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    Yeah ! This is a lovely generic building !

    For me, the only thing would be to add maybe next time a concrete base foundation for that brick to sit on to your texture. Something like 150 or 200 mm from the grade. But it's only a matter of realism.

    Beside that, I can't wait to subscribe to it on the workshop ! ;)

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    By way of a "Thank You" gift, we'd like to send you our STEX Collector's DVD. It's some of the best buildings, lots, maps and mods collected for you over the years. Check out the STEX Collections for more info.

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    More About STEX Collections