Understanding Basic UV Mapping in Autodesk Maya

UV mapping is nothing but a 3D model flattened on a 2D plane. This is necessary because a computer cannot understand how to put a 2D texture on a 3D model because a 3D model may have many sides.

Here we will discuss the basic aspects of UV mapping in Maya and various projections to do it.

We take a primitive, say a polygon cube. Because it is a primitive, it is already unwrapped (there is an option to create UVs when creating a primitive). Set the menu to polygon. You can see the unwrapped map from Edit UVs->UV Texture Editor.

When you open the UV Texture Editor You will see that the unwrap is in the upper right portion of the graph. The unwrapped maps are set there and then exported.

Put a checker map on the cube and press 6 to see the texture. You can put the checker by going to attribute Editor. Then select the material tab which by default will be lambert. Click on the box next to color attribute and select checker.

Checker ensures you the correctness of your UV unwrapping. If the checker is uniform and the shape of the checker is square then you are going fine and if not you must check it.

Now we will discuss types of projections.

Planer Mapping

This kind of mapping is used when we want to Unwrap a flat surface. Select the object’s face that you want to unwrap and go to Create UVs->Planer Mapping and then go to its settings. Choose Best Plane or Bounding box. When using bounding box, you need to specify an axis to project. You can use the manipulator tool to squeeze or scale up the texture map.

Cylindrical Mapping

It is used to unwrap something which cylindrical in shape. Follow the same procedure to apply the projection. Just apply Cylindrical Mapping on the object and edit the map using the manipulator tool. You can scale height, radius, etc. using it.

Spherical Mapping

As you can now understand by the name itself, it is applied on spherical objects. Use the manipulator tool to edit the the map.

Automatic Mapping

Automatic Mapping breaks everything apart and allows you to edit those manually. It uses a series of planes to automatically project on the model. To use this kind of projection, go to Create UVs->Automatic Mapping. In the setting you can choose the number of planes, layouts, etc. You basically have to play around those things to get a nice set of layout. For example, keeping “Fewer pieces” in the “Optimize for” section keeps the number of pieces less but with more distortion and with “Less distortion”, it is vice versa.

Then all you have to do is sew and separate the UVs so as to get understandable layout and minimum seams, and if there are some, try to hide those in areas where it is not visible.

Projection Based on Camera

If you want to unwrap something that you want to just look perfect in the camera and it is not important to unwrap the whole thing, then this is for you. There are two ways to do it.

Go to Create UVs->Planer Mapping and Choose Camera in the “Project from” section. It is nothing but a planer mapping to as to make you get rid of the tiresome job to get the thing projected perfectly along the perfect axis. Use the manipulator tool to scale the checker to square.

Another method is to go to Create Uvs->Create UV Based on Camera. In this, you get the ability to create a new UV set. Here you don’t get the manipulator tool.

So here are all the basics you need to know about UV Mapping.

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