3ds Max Blended Box Map - Part 2 - Texturing Uneven Terrain

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8 min

3ds Max Blended Box Map - Part 2 - Texturing Uneven Terrain

In this tutorial, learn how to texture an uneven terrain with the blended box map.


  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2017.1
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2017.1 or higher.

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Now that the main concepts are covered, you use Blended Box Mapping to texture an uneven terrain.

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Uneven terrains can be difficult to map by their very nature, especially when imported from third-party applications.

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Often, their topology adds to the difficulty and unwrapping can then become a nightmare.

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It's not exactly the case in this scene named BBM_terrain_start.max where the terrain was in fact modeled in 3ds Max.

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Still, the geometry of this particular terrain is still complex enough that traditional mapping techniques would be difficult.

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In case you're wondering, this terrain was built in 3ds Max using a simple Plane object and Freeform tools such as Push/Pull,

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Shift and Relax.

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It is all made of one mesh, except for the two smaller boulders in the center left.

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Those started as spherified boxes and then shaped into boulders with the same tools used to shape the terrain.

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Select all three objects and apply a Standard material to them.

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Add a Blended Box Map to the Diffuse channel and test render the scene.

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The default setup is already a good starting point.

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From there, you can test the solution using a checkered pattern to look for bad texture stretching.

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You could use the default checker procedural map or use your own bitmaps.

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I personally prefer that method as I can fine-tune the solution to look for problems in projection directions.

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When loading bitmaps, naming convention plays a big role.

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Bitmaps sharing the same name with appropriate suffixes can be loaded more easily.

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In this case, all three bitmaps start with the name "Checker" and end with "Front", "Left" or "Top".

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By using Load Maps, you can select any one of them and all three would be used in the appropriate slots.

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Blended Box Map tries to conform to the shape and size of the model it is applied to. It stretches to accommodate the size of the object.

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By default, Blended Box Map is applied in a Non-Uniform way, this means that the scale of the map is not the same between smaller and larger objects.

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You can control the map size at the individual bitmap level, or at a more global level in the Blended Box Map controls.

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Set the Map Scale to 10 to see the effect on the terrain and boulders.

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You can see that the map size on the boulders is different from the terrain.

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You can manage these situations using the Projection controls group.

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If your bitmaps are square like typical tiling maps are,

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you may want to enable the Cube option to avoid texture stretching.

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Moreover, the pull-down menu lets you choose how the projections behave.

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In the default Non-Uniform mode, each object gets its own virtual mapping gizmo based on the size of that object.

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This is why the texture scale is different between smaller and larger objects.

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Set the general map scale to 100 once again to test the other options.

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You can force the same uniform map size onto all objects by defining it, set it to 5 and test render the scene.

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The checkered patterns are now uniform throughout the scene.

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You can also use a picked reference object in the scene to define the map size based on that object's size,

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or you can base the map scale on the largest object in the scene sharing this material, which in this case means the terrain.

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For now, go back to the Non-Uniform-Size option and ensure the global map scale is set to 100%.

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Another way of controlling the projected maps is to treat various objects as one, using the Multiple Objects at Once option.

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This lets you create a Projection Box in the form of a dummy object, that you can transform in the scene to control the mapping.

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This can be based on selected objects, or on all objects sharing that material.

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As mentioned earlier, you may also simply want to work the bitmap sizes at the bitmap levels. This is the approach I personally favor.

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When you're done experimenting, go back to Individual Objects mapping type with a Uniform mapping size of 100%.

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A render at this time shows that the map scale is rather huge, if uniform.

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Simply edit the individual checker patterns to make them tile 20 times in each direction.

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Render again. With the global scales set to 100%, the test renders look quite satisfactory.

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Once you're happy with the projections, you can start replacing the checker patterns with actual textures.

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A few were provided with this scene, most notably textures for grass, dirt and rocks.

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The rockwall image is straightforward and meant to be used for X and Y projections.

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The grass and dirt textures are meant to be used for Z-projections, perhaps mixed up with the help of a noise map.

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This can be done by using a Mix map with the dirt and grass textures,

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and a Noise map to act as a mask.

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You will probably need to fiddle with the noise map a bit to get it to work to your liking.

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A finished scene is also available as part of the downloadable archive.

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In the next movie, we take a look at the animation limitations associated with the Blended Box Map.
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