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9 Mar 2023

The absolute fundamentals of 3D modeling: Topology & Materials

Featured post

Welcome back to the second part of "The absolute fundamentals of 3D modeling". In the first part of the series we covered the basic building blocks of every 3D model, the main types of modeling and the key principles and processes of modeling manipulation. Now, in this second part, we'll dive into the most common topology issues that new and seasoned modelers face, tips to avoid them and talk about one of the biggest aspects of 3D which is texture creation. So let's get started!

Most common topology issues

When creating and manipulating 3D models, it's common to encounter topology issues, which can affect the final quality and performance of the model. Topology refers to the way the geometry of the model is structured, including the placement and flow of vertices, edges, and faces. Having clean and optimized topology is essential for producing high-quality models that can be efficiently processed and rendered.

One of the main benefits of clean topology is that it helps to prevent issues that can arise during later stages of the modeling process. For example, if a model has poor topology, it may be difficult to add new details or refine existing ones, resulting in a less polished final product. Additionally, poor topology can cause issues with rigging and animation, leading to jerky movements or deformation.

Optimizing topology can also help to reduce the file size of the model, making it easier to work with and faster to render. This is particularly important when working on large-scale projects, such as film or video game production, where even small optimization gains can have a significant impact on productivity. Now, let’s take a look at the most common topology issues!

Overlapping faces

In 3D modeling, overlapping faces occur when two or more faces occupy the same space in the 3D model. This can happen when faces are unintentionally duplicated, or when two or more objects are combined into one. Overlapping faces can cause a number of issues with the model, including rendering artifacts and problems with texture mapping.

When faces overlap, it can create visual artifacts on the surface of the model, such as visible seams or gaps. This can also cause issues with lighting and shading, as the render engine may interpret the overlapping faces as a single surface, leading to incorrect lighting or shadows.

Overlapping faces can also cause problems with texture mapping, as the texture coordinates for the overlapping faces may conflict with each other. This can result in texture stretching or distortion, or visible seams or gaps in the texture.

To avoid overlapping faces, it is important to ensure that faces are not unintentionally duplicated and that objects are properly aligned and positioned in the 3D modeling software. Many 3D modeling programs have tools to detect and fix overlapping faces, such as a merge vertices tool or an automated cleanup function. It is important to ensure that the model is free of overlapping faces before exporting it for use in other software or for 3D printing.

UV stretching

UV stretching is an issue that can occur in 3D modeling when the UV map, which is a 2D representation of how a texture is applied to a 3D object, is stretched or distorted in certain areas. This can cause the texture to appear stretched or warped on the 3D model, resulting in an uneven or distorted appearance.

UV stretching can occur when the polygons or faces of the 3D model are not evenly sized or spaced, or when the UV map is not properly laid out to match the 3D geometry. For example, if the polygons on one part of the 3D model are much larger than those on another part, the texture applied to the larger polygons may appear stretched or distorted.

UV stretching can also be caused by using non-uniform scaling on the 3D model, or by applying a texture that is not designed to be tiled or repeated.

To avoid UV stretching, it is important to create a UV map that accurately reflects the 3D geometry of the model, with evenly sized and spaced polygons. Many 3D modeling software packages have tools to help with UV mapping, such as automatic UV unwrapping or UV editing tools. It is also important to use textures that are designed to be applied to 3D models and to avoid stretching or scaling the 3D model in a non-uniform manner. By carefully considering the UV mapping and texture application, it is possible to avoid UV stretching issues in 3D modeling.

Holes in mesh

The issue of "holes in mesh" can occur in 3D modeling when there are gaps or missing faces in the mesh of a 3D model. This can happen when the mesh is not properly closed or connected, or when certain faces are deleted or not properly constructed.

Holes in the mesh can cause a variety of issues, including problems with rendering or exporting the model and difficulty in editing or modifying the model. They can also lead to inaccuracies or distortions in the shape of the model, particularly if the holes are in areas that are intended to be smooth or continuous.

To fix holes in the mesh, it is necessary to identify where the gaps or missing faces are located, and then to fill them in or reconstruct them as necessary. This can be done using a variety of tools, such as the Meshmixer tool, along with other various add-ons or integrated tools inside your software of choice.

Preventing holes in the mesh from occurring in the first place is often the best approach. This can be done by ensuring that the mesh is properly constructed and connected from the outset, and by carefully inspecting the model at various stages of the modeling process to identify any potential issues. It is also important to use modeling techniques that are appropriate for the specific object being created, as certain shapes or designs may be more prone to holes in the mesh than others.

Main types of materials

A big part of creating a 3D model is creating and using the correct type of texture (material) for each specific situation. Texturing a model and creating the appropriate materials can be frustrating, but understanding the main types of materials that are most commonly used and the techniques in creating them will simplify the process of texturing by a lot.

Tiling materials (seamless textures)

Tiling materials or seamless textures are used in 3D modeling to create the appearance of continuous or repeating patterns or textures on a surface. These textures are designed to tile or repeat seamlessly across the surface of the object without any visible seams or interruptions.

In traditional 2D art, seamless textures are created by designing the edges of the texture in such a way that they can be repeated seamlessly across the surface of the object. In 3D modeling, tiling materials work in a similar way: the texture is applied to the surface of the object in such a way that it repeats seamlessly across the surface.

Tiling materials and seamless textures are commonly used in video game development, where they can help to create the illusion of complex and detailed environments without requiring a large number of unique textures. They can also be used in architectural visualization and other 3D applications to create the appearance of realistic surfaces, such as wood, brick, or tile.

Tiling materials and seamless textures are typically created using specialized software or tools, such as Substance Designer or Photoshop. These tools allow artists to create textures that can be repeated seamlessly across the surface of an object with the ability to control various parameters such as color, scale, and distortion. These textures can then be applied to 3D models using various mapping techniques, such as UV mapping, to create the appearance of a realistic surface.

PBR materials

PBR (Physically Based Rendering) materials are a type of material used in 3D modeling that are designed to simulate the physical properties of real-world materials. Such materials are created using a set of standardized parameters that describe how light interacts with a surface, including its roughness, metallic properties, and other surface characteristics.

They are often used in real-time rendering engines, such as those used in video games, to create realistic and accurate representations of materials and surfaces. They can also be used in other 3D applications, such as architectural visualization and product design. PBR materials are typically created using specialized software or tools, such as Substance Designer or Quixel Mixer. These tools allow artists to create materials using a set of physically accurate parameters and preview how the materials will look under different lighting conditions.

One of the benefits of PBR materials is that they are designed to be physically accurate, which means that they respond realistically to changes in lighting and other environmental conditions. This makes it easier to create realistic and believable environments and objects. Such textures and materials are often used in combination with other 3D modeling techniques, such as UV mapping and texture baking, to create complex and detailed 3D models that can be used in a variety of applications.

Procedural textures

Procedural textures are computer-generated textures that are produced using a fixed set of parameters, which allows for unique variations of a texture to be created automatically by the computer. This process, known as procedural generation, is used in various areas of 3D work to generate data automatically rather than manually.

Procedural texture generators can be found in some 3D software and specialized texturing software, such as Substance Painter, and come with a set of parameters that determine the outcome of the texture. Users can modify these parameters to achieve the desired result.

While it is possible to create a generator from scratch, this requires coding knowledge and time, making it more practical to find an existing generator online. Procedural textures have many benefits, including ease of use and the ability to adjust the resolution to suit different needs. Additionally, they are useful for generating randomized noise maps for creating rough surfaces using bump and reflective glossiness maps.

Overall, procedural textures offer an efficient and effective way to create realistic and unique textures without the need for manual labor

Stay tuned for the next part of the series

Thank you for reading the second part of "The absolute fundamentals of 3D modeling" series! Soon the final part of the series will be published in which we will discuss more general rules and guidelines every new modeler should follow, along with giving you tips on how to speed up the learning process when you first start with 3D!

Until then, happy modeling!