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Mastering Low-Poly Modeling in Autodesk Maya: From UV Mapping to Substance Painter Magic!




🔴Learn the complete workflow for creating low-poly 3D models in Maya, transferring them to ZBrush for adding details, and texturing in Substance Painter.




🔴Follow along as the instructor demonstrates the process step by step.









- Workflow

  • In today’s class, we’re going to use a base human model inside of our Content Browser to use as a base to make the armor.

  • In your Windows Tab click on the Content Browser button and a new window will open up.

  • Find and double-click on the HumanBody.ma and it will appear inside of your workspace.

  • Unlike our previous workflow where we make the high poly for the model, today we will start by making a low poly armor in Autodesk Maya and then make a high poly inside of ZBrush.

  • By doing it “backward” we will already have the low poly model with already cut UVs and only need to add more topology inside of ZBrush and extra details.

  • The downside of doing this is that you won’t have the complete freedom to move things around.

  • You can add extra things on the armor like buttons and scratches but if we add an extra armor part we then need to make a low poly for that part and open up their own UV shells.

  • Once our base human is in our workspace, select it and turn it into a Live Object.

  • With that set, we can start drawing out the base shape of our front armor using the Quadraw tool.

  • Before you start working make sure you turn on your Symmetry.

  • Start by adding polygons around the neck and work your way down the side of the body.

  • Make sure you curve it when you reach the bottom of the torso.

  • Once we outline the armor relax the topology by holding down Shift.

  • Fix up misplaced vertices and start filling in the inside of the outline.

  • Make sure you are keeping a nice clean topology so you’ll have good edge flow.

  • Once we are done with the Quadraw, move the chest plate outside of our mesh.

  • Before we extrude it we want to make a couple of changes to get a better form on our armor.

  • We’re going to grab the first row of vertices at the neck and by using soft select (B) rotate them outward.

  • After they’ve been rotated, move them away from the neck.

  • Chest plate needs to have room for the user to be able to easily move their head around and not be restrained or choked by the armor.

  • Before we soften the edges on our entire model, grab some vertices where the chest is and pull them out slightly using soft select to make a better shape.

  • After that select the entire model of the armor and soften the edges.

  • Once softened we can grab a row of vertices in the middle of the chest plate and move them outward, with each slight move we will take away some of those edges and move them forward again.

  • Repeat this step till you have no more edges to pull.

  • Grab the same row of vertices in the center of the chest and pull them out again using soft select.

  • We don’t want our entire armor to be soft and only want certain edge loops to be hardened.

  • Select the middle edge of the armor and Harden it.

  • The same thing goes for the horizontal edge in the middle of the chest.

  • Just like we did with the vertices on the center edge, this time without soft select, grab the entire edge loop and slowly start to move it outward, deselecting some edges as you move it more.

  • We’re going to rotate the 4 middle edges and move the last two in the center forward.

  • We want to scale down the edge loops on the neck and rotate the side edges inward.

  • Lastly, we’re going to select some of the edges near the neck and soften them.

  • Before we extrude the faces we can unfold the UV Shell.

  • Once Unfolded click on the Get then Set to get the accurate density then orient and lay it out.

  • Now we can select the faces and extrude them outwards.

  • Cut the new edge loop around the armor and the side edge loops as well

  • When we Unfold them we can see that we have a common error that happens some times in Autodesk Maya.

  • The UV Shells on the sides of the armor look like they are missing but in fact they are so small we can’t see them in the UV Editor.

  • When you try and scale them they still won’t show up.

  • To fix this simply sew one edge with the sides and they will appear in the UV Editor.

  • When you cut them again and unfold them everything will work normally.

  • Another fix is to Sew everything and Cut the UV Shells again.

  • We’re going to move on to the back part of the armor.

  • Start by adding polygons around the neck but not all the way around.

  • After we made our first loop of faces we can extrude some more from them going down the shoulders.

  • Once we have about 3 loops of faces we’ll start extruding the outline of the back armor.

  • When we reach the armpits make sure you add a curve going beneath the arm a bit.

  • After making a small curve we can continue extruding down the back.

  • Once we have our outline start filling the insides.

  • Once everything is filled make sure to relax your topology.

  • Just like we did with the front of the armor, turn on soft select and adjust the shape of the neck and the rest of the armor.

  • Make sure you stretch out the sides below the arms as well as pull out some vertices on the back.

  • Once everything is done we’re going to smooth the armor, only selecting a few edges we want to harden after the smooth.

  • The main vertical edge running down the back needs to be hardened as well as the one around the neck.

  • Select the vertices on the tip of the neck collar and rotate them a bit to have a nice curve at the end.

  • Instead of opening a UV right away, we can instead extrude the faces and afterward cut the UV Shells inside of the UV Editor.

  • We’re going to move on and make the belt that is going to connect the abc plate with the chest plate.

  • Using the Quadraw again draw out a face loop in the front between the parts of the armor.

  • Extrude the loops and in wire frame mode select the last vertices, turn on soft select, and move and rotate them to have a slight curve.

  • Delete the back faces of the belts since they won’t be seen.

  • After that open up UV Shells for the belts.

  • We’re going to make another belt beneath the arms.

  • Just like before we will draw out the shape with the Quadraw tool, extrude the shape and open up a UV for it.

  • The faces also need to be deleted for these belts as well that are facing the body.

  • In the Outliner rename the parts accordingly and put a _low after each named part.

  • Select all of the parts and lay out their UV Shells together in one UV tile.

  • Select one UV Shell, click on get, then select the rest and click on Set.

  • After that Orient the shells and Lay them out.

  • At the end add in a lambert material and name it.

  • Since we are done with our low poly version of the Armor make sure you select all of the parts and Export them as FBX file, name Armor_low.

  • Don’t forget to also save your scene before we move on to making the high poly.

  • Before we put our Armor set In ZBrush we want to add supportive edges around our main edges that keep the form together.

  • Use the multi-cut tool to add these edges.

  • We can also use the Bevel tool to bevel the main horizontal and vertical edges on our chest plate.

  • Don’t forget about the backplate, same as before add supportive edges around the main edges of the form.

  • Check with the Soft preview inside of Maya (3) to make sure your armor keeps its form.

  • If some parts are changing that means it needs a supportive edge around the main one.

  • Do the same thing for the belt loops as well.

  • Rename the parts with _high at the end before exporting this FBX under the name Armor_01.

  • We don’t want to name the FBX Armor_high just yet because we still want to add more things on the high poly inside of ZBrush.

  • Open up ZBrush and click on the Import button in the Tool section.

  • Once the Armor_01 FBX is imported drag with your mouse in your workspace to add in the armor.

  • Now that’s in click on the Edit button so we can start adding in divisions and details.

  • Select each part and by clicking Ctrl + D you will add divisions on your model and because of our supportive edges, the armor won’t loose its form.

  • We will have some strange hard edges which can be fixed by using the Smooth brush.

  • You can change the material to whatever suits you best.

  • Most of the time we work with the BasicMatGray material.

  • This one in the picture is a custom material from a different artist.

  • These materials can be downloaded free online or purchased.

  • Once you’ve selected the material activate the Rectangle Masking Brush by holding down the Ctrl button and clicking on the brush to choose a different one.

  • Change the alpha as well and add a pattern you want to make on your armor.

  • The alphas in this class have been downloaded online and provided to you in our classes.

  • Before you start working make sure you have BackFace Masking turned on.

  • This option is located inside the Brush tab in Auto Masking.

  • Now that everything is ready, hold down the Ctrl button to have the masking brush activated and drag out the patterns.

  • You can place them anywhere you want.

  • Once you placed the pattern, Ctrl + click on the side to invert the mask.

  • Now that it’s inverted turn on the Gizmo Tool by pressing Q on your keyboard and moving the unmasked parts outward to create the pattern on the armor.

  • Once you added in all the patterns on the plate, add another division to smooth out the edges.

  • We’re going to repeat this step on the back plate as well.

  • You can change alphas on your brush to make different patterns on the armor.

  • For the belt loops, you can use DamStandard to add in some lines or you can use one of the Seem Brushes ZBrush has in its brush library.

  • To make straight line in ZBrush, click and hold on the place you want to start then hold down Shift, once the red line appear when you drag, drag out the line to your desired length then let go of the Shift key to make the line witht he selected brush.

  • Make the same pattern on both the top and bottom leather loops.

  • Now that we are done with our high poly, click on the Export button inside the Tools and select the Export to be on Visible.

  • This will Export all of the layers that are currently Visable inside of our workspace.

  • Inside of Substance Painter we’re going to make a new project.

  • Select your low poly in the files and put your resolution to 2k if it already isn’t then press Ok.

  • You can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + B to open up the baking tab or you can go inside of Texture Settings and click the Bake Mesh Maps button.

  • In this new window we’re going to set the Resolution to be also 2k and add in our high poly model of the armor by clicking the small folder icon inside of High Poly parameters.

  • Now that we have everything set up click on Bake Selected Textures and wait for the baking process to end.

  • When it ends we can see all of the details from the high poly transfer onto our low poly model.

  • For the texture, you can add or make anything you want.

  • In this class we used the Steel Ruined material for the base and the golden details are the Gold Pure material grouped (Ctrl + G) up with a black mask and a Mask Editor generator.

  • With the black mask on we can use any of the brushes to draw out where we want the gold to be.

  • End Result.

Bonus - Selection

  • There are many ways you can select inside Autodesk Maya, and one of those ways hasn’t been shown off in previous classes.

  • We will use this cylinder as an example.

  • In vertex mode, we will select the center vertex, hold down Ctrl and right-click to open up the selection menu.

  • If we choose the To Edges - To Edges, it will select all of the edges that are connected with that vertex.

  • For another example, we’ll select the edge loop ring, hold Ctrl and right click and this time choose the To Faces - To faces option.

  • We can see it will select all of the faces connected to that edge loop.

  • If we select the faces on the top of the cylinder and choose the To Edges - To edges option, it will select all the edges on the selected faces.

  • There is also another useful selection shortcut involving faces, instead of choosing the To Edges - To Edges option, we will choose the To Edges - To Edge Parameter and it will select the edge loop around the faces.








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