BOX MAPPING – Use box mapping together with tiling textures to quickly texture your model without the need to unwrap it. Just set the image node from Flat to Box and connect the vector input to the Object or Generated coordinates. Then you can start layering more textures on top of each other.
POINTINESS AND AO – You can mimic Substance Painter’s curvature and Ambient Occlusion based effects directly in Blender by using the relevant nodes, multiplying them with a grunge map and passing the result through a color ramp to create a custom mask to blend your tiling textures or materials.
GREAT FREE TEXTURES- If you’re doing, for example, architectural visualization and are looking for high-res textures for your interior surfaces, it’s often helpful to visit the websites of furniture and wood manufacturers. They sometimes offer all of their products, e.g. wood, marble, etc. as free textures that you can use.
VERTEX COLOURS FOR BREAKING UP TILING- When you texture models with box mapping (see above), often the tiling becomes too visible, making the model look uniform and boring. So I use vertex colors to quickly paint custom masks to blend, for example, rust, grease or dirt into certain areas. I use the vertex colors just as I use pointiness or AO inputs.
SELECTIVE UV MAPPING- You can create a new UV channel and use it to selectively unwrap certain faces of your mesh where you want decals to appear. I create a B/W decal atlas in Photoshop first and move my unwrapped faces over the desired decals, leaving everything else on the black spaces of the atlas.
MAPS FOR VARIATION- If you want to texture, say, a brick wall, you can create an ID map in Photoshop by painting over every brick in a different color. If you then use this map to distort the coordinates of a noise texture, you’ll get a new noise in the shape of your bricks, ready to be overlayed for variation.
NOISE TEXTURE FOR BLURRING- Blender doesn’t have a blur node in the shader editor yet, so if you want to blur textures, there’s a workaround: add a noise texture with a crazy high scale to the input vector of the texture. This will disturb the coordinates, making the image appear blurry.
THE BRICK TEXTURE- You can use Blender’s procedural brick texture for more than just bricks! You can stretch it and remove the mortar to create a B/W map for distorting the texture coordinates of a wood texture, turning it into nonrepeating wooden planks. Or you can distort the bricks themselves and make veins out of them.
USING MATH NODES- If you understand some basic maths, you can do great stuff with the math nodes inside Blender. For example, you can use a modulo to create a striped texture or use maximum and minimum to intersect different height maps with each other. This way you could, for example, create chipped rock structures completely procedurally.
DESATURATE THE NORMAL MAP- To create the fine details such as pores and wrinkles for my Portrait of Link image (see below) I used a male displacement kit from Texturing XYZ. When you are finished with the detail sculpting phase, bake the normal map and create a copy layer in Photoshop with desaturating adjustment. Then make sure that the layer has a Soft Light blend mode and is placed at the top. You might decrease the opacity to 70%. Diego Alvaro
HAIR AND BEARD- The entire hair was created in Maya XGen. Make a copy of the mesh you want to groom, go to Generate in the modeling shelf and choose to Create Interactive Groom Splines. Now style the hair with tools in the XGen shelf. Diego Alvaro
CHECK UVS- Before you get started with texturing your model, check the UVs. For example, when working in Maya, open the UV Editor window, select your model and make sure that the UVs are unfolding correctly. For better visualization, go to View and check the UV Distortion box. Diego Alvaro
REFERENCE BOARD AND RESEARCH- In my experience, creating a special folder for references has proved very helpful. While you’re working on your model, import the pictures or collages as planes so you always have your goal right in front of you and it’s easy to pick up the colors. Diego Alvaro
TUNING YOUR ALBEDO MAP- Place your texture map in Photoshop and create a duplicate layer of the origin or do a merged layer of all visible; Ctrl+A (select all), Ctrl+Shift+C (copy all visible) Ctrl+V (paste). Next, do black and white adjustments, then select Filter>Other>High Pass. I recommend entering a value of 3 or 5 in the dialog window. Confirm with OK and choose Overlay or Soft Light as the blend mode. Diego Alvaro
TEXTURING IS NOT EVERYTHING- Your textures might look great in Mari, Mudbox or ZBrush, but how do they look when you render your project with Arnold, V-Ray or similar in different light setups? It’s important to test your textures with natural light (studio light, global light, and low key); sometimes you will have to go back to your texture tool and make some adjustments. Diego Alvaro