Owen Shepherds 3d game art portfolio

TUTORIAL – creating perfectly tiling meshes in Zbrush for use in videogame environments

This tutorial walks you through a workflow that I have developed that allows you to create perfectly tiled normal maps on perfectly tiled lowpoly geometry, especially useful for cliff faces and rough stone surfaces.

finished product

Stage 1- create a height map in ZBRUSH
– First create a Ztool, I created a simple beveled cube in maya, then stamped some shapes into it in Zbrush and saved it out as a tool.

1

– Create a new document at the size of your intended map.

2

– Load the tool in and start drawing them on the canvas, draw them in empty space but don’t go over the edge of the document.
– Use the Tilde key(~ or @ if in the UK) to offset the canvas (hold it down and move the canvas so the centre is offset to the edges).
– Fill the space in the middle.
– Repeat until canvas is filled making sure no gaps are left.

3

– Click on “alpha” on the right hand side of screen and “grab doc”, this will give you a height map
– Export this to PS
– In photoshop double the size of the canvas and then copy the heightmap into the space so that you have a map that tiles twice

4

Stage 2- apply heightmap to flat plane
– Create “plane3d” and convert to polymesh

5

– Subdivide with “smt” off to roughly 1 mill or above for a 512* or 4 mill for a 1024
– Go into edit mode
– Import the doubled up map
– Making sure the alpha is in the alpha slot open the displacement dropdown in the tool menu
– Type in a value into intensity (I used ten, seems to give you roughly the same height as the document you made the heightmap in) and press the “apply displacement” button
– Export the tool as an obj at the top level and at the bottom level

6

7

Stage 3- re-jigging the LP
There are two methods for this and it depends on the shapes your making. and how optimised you need the finished mesh, for large cliffs then method 1 is generally fine, but method 2 takes longer but will provide more optimised and better shapes.
Method 1
– Import the LowPoly into your package, im going to use maya but all the principles are the same across packages
– Select the centre quarter polys in the UV map (in maya I do this by selecting the four dead centre polys then expanding the selection till the correct polys are selected)

8

– Seperate these UVs
– Invert selection and move these outside 0-1
– Reselect the central UVs and normailse them so they fit exactly 0-1
– Re-export the OBJ

9

Method 2
– Export a medium tiling mesh from Zbrush, something that your 3d app can cope with (say 20k polys)
– Build an optimised mesh over the top of this using it as a guide to get the shapes right, just model the centre section
– Instance the mesh 9 times one on each side and corener of the central mesh moving each one 64 units for accuracy
– Snap all the edge verts together, and merge the objects into one mesh
– Delete all the faces beyond the central tiling section leaving an extra poly on each side for correct seamage
– Setup uvs like in method 1 making sure the extra polys are outside 0-1

Stage 4- baking
Use whatever program to bake out the textures you need

11

Stage 5- re-jigging the low poly (again)
– Reload the objs, and apply the new maps you have
– Select all the faces outside 0-1 in the Uvs and delete
– Instance the objects and create and continuous tiling mesh
– Merge all the verts and smooth all normal
There you have it, a continuous tiling mesh.

12

finished

whats possible

Tip on speeding the workflow up
– Delete faces in the HP that you dont need beyond the centre section of the obj, being carefull to leave an overlap, this will speed up rendering times no-end

23 Comments »

  1. […] defer writing content yet again, and instead send you Owen Shepherds site to look at his post, TUTORIAL – creating perfectly tiling meshes in Zbrush for use in videogame environments. This tutorial walks you through a workflow that I have developed that allows you to create […]

    Pingback by rsart - Rick Stirling, games artist » Blog Archive » TUTORIAL - creating perfectly tiling meshes in Zbrush for use in videogame environments — October 12, 2008 @ 2:13 pm

  2. wanted to say that your tut looks awesome. But I’m getting a snag early in the process that I was hoping you’d be able to help me out with. I’m using ZBrush 3.1. I am at the point where I need to offset the canvas the tilde key does nothing, so I tried to find the option under Document menu but it wasn’t there either, so if you could point me where to go it would be appreciated
    -Zach

    Comment by Zach — October 16, 2008 @ 11:49 pm

  3. i have an european keymap and the tilde key is now moved to the “ø” key (next to the “L”)

    Comment by knut — July 1, 2010 @ 12:45 pm

  4. Can you clarify what exactly Step 3 achieves?

    Comment by chris — August 3, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

  5. You just used a flat rock texture with the AO map made by the sculpt right? (Just talking about the diffuse)
    Also, how did you create the dirt texture? Just a plane with an alpha channel fading it out, and moving it up along the rocks or something?

    Comment by David Nordahl — August 5, 2010 @ 10:12 pm

  6. awesome, thank you.

    Comment by Ovidiu — October 9, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

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  9. How do you turn on Alpha in the right menu? Im not getting anything.

    Comment by john — March 6, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

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  12. im confused at stage 3 and 4… i put the low and high poly in max and edited the uv’s cutting the middle square and maximising it in the square. do i delete the frame of uv’s outside the square and delete the unused polys?? if i do that the high polys larger than the low poly, surely i cant use that.
    please help me out

    Comment by jamesrussell1981 — October 16, 2012 @ 10:13 pm

  13. Excellent post but I was wondering if you could write a litte
    more on this topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Appreciate it!

    Comment by mosfet equations — October 28, 2012 @ 9:55 am

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    Comment by booking hotels — January 12, 2013 @ 11:16 pm

  15. thank you for the great Tutorial ..its help me to make great tiling meshes ;D

    Comment by turri — March 28, 2013 @ 9:00 am

  16. […] meshes in a short amount of time. Standard Materials Wood, Metal, Various Stones and Blocks creating perfectly tiling meshes in Zbrush a workflow to create perfectly tiled normal maps on perfectly tiled lowpoly geometry, especially […]

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  18. How are you blending between the ground and the rock in the last image?

    Comment by pailhead011 — May 23, 2013 @ 7:54 am

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  21. […] 24. Creating tiling meshes in ZBrush for use in videogame environments […]

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