Article / 14 March 2019

Texturing Complex Machines. A new workflow? (To me anyway)

So anyway - my client in China liked Gypsy Widow which is great however they wanted her textured up - now if I was a good ole ZBrusher this wouldn't be so bad as it would probably be a single mesh etc etc etc.  Because I am a bearded 3ds max desperado, however, my model is not really suitable for a nice quick unwrap and application of textures as it has about one squillion moving parts, all of which are weird shapes / made of lots of bits / Cthulhu's car.  This led me to much worry and hilarious panic for a while, so I did what most respectable artists would do in my position.


Nothing like lying under a warm duvet in bed pondering the difficulties of demonstrating a complex texturing job...  Hey, i'm 47.  Beds are for forts, long naps and thinking about complex 3d issues at my age.


  1. Use Blended Box Mapping in max on part of mech limb.
  2. Don't use Triplanar even though I'm rendering in Arnold because Blended Box Map blends 6 images, not three.
  3. Much switching renderer to make previews.  Arnold>Scanline, render 6 templates, Scanline>Arnold.  
  4. Drag those six templates over to Quixel Mixer - which is the new super duper tool from Quixel.  A Company ran by insane geniuses. 
  5. Using the paint layer in Mixer do some displacement black magic, then add purdy layers and decals and stuff.
  6. Drag the six images back into the Blended Box Map.  Also, drag them into the various other things like bump and displace because 'awesome'.
  7. Stuff a mix material into the diffuse slot and stick the diffuse created from the previous steps into one slot.  Drag some horrible base metal into the other.
  8. In the free mix map area throw a curvature map.  Assign the radius to a noise map OSL.  Tweak x 1000.
  9. Remember to turn on ActiveShade - something I only even remembered existed really rather recently.
  10. Take the medication.
  11. Come back to ActiveShade 1000 hours later.
  12. Cry.
  13. Tweak.
  14. Repeat steps 10 through to 13 until 'Contentment > 0'
  15. Repeat steps 1 through to 14 for each other part of the mech while crying into beard / eating Pepto-Bismol / giggling uncontrollably.

Somewhere in here I also have to add some decal goodness using photoshop probably if I cannot make custom decals work in Mixer.  

It is this mech (Gypsy Widow).

This article would be 1000x prettier with some nice renders however you cannot have any yet because I don't start on this part until tomorrow.  Once it is done however I will try and remember to put up some pretty pictures for you all in the next update.  Meanwhile please remember not to eat marshmallows covered in chocolate if you have a large beard.