Material and Texture Game Outsourcing

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Material and Texture Game Outsourcing

Texture and material are vital part of 3D models. You can imagine them as some kind of colorful wrapping. Without textures all game objects will look like gray models made of clay.

render without textures

We know only one game where the developer didn’t bother to add textures — SuperHot. If you aren’t developing SuperHot 2, then you’ll need to know what are 3D texture and material for games and how to get them.

superhot

We, Kreonit game art outsourcing studio, are confident with texturing and material creation for game models. In this article we’ll explain what are the difference between textures and materials, how do artists create them and where you can get them.

What are texture and materials in 3D modelling

what is texture example

Texture is an image of model’s surface. Here’s an example: if you’ll peel orange’s skin, you’ll get its texture. In 3D modelling for games textures are used to make objects look better. Also, texturing is the most performance-efficient way to preserve small details on an object’s surface.

wood texture

Small conclusion: texture is an image, which is wrapped on 3D object’s surface.

Material is a technical description of how the light interacts with an object. Here’s an example: soft cloth won’t be as reflective, as polished metal. So 3D modelers use different materials to make the wood and metal look like wood and metal, but not like some kind of plastic.

wood material example

Small conclusion: material tells the render engine how light interacts with an object’s texture.

With textures and materials a brick wall in game will remind a real brick wall. Even in exaggerated or cartoonish visual style.

Detailed models like characters, vehicles and weapons often use different materials and shaders for small details. For example, a character may wear clothes with fur collar and metal belt, and the 3D artist must use different materials for them, and also for the character’s skin, eyeballs (they must be shiny!) and hair.

character with material

Modelling with textures and materials

When the high poly 3D model is done, it’s time to create and apply textures. 3D model is just a bunch of polygons or a mesh. The artist can unwrap that 3D mesh into 2d with Blender, Maya or other 3D-modelling program. Then he will select needed some part of mesh and paint it or apply reference texture. For a game with low-poly style the artist can paint model with bright solid colors. But for realistic art style it is needed to paint a model by hand or to use stylized photos.

character with no texture and materials

Here you can see how the artist selects different parts of mesh and applies to them a leather texture. Applied colors appear on 2D mesh, which allows the artist to inspect the work process.

Then the artist adds some small details to compensate low polygon count. For example, he paints lips with light-pink and adds shadow under the mouth. It is more efficient to simulate those details than to add polygons and make real shadows. On this step the model looks like a plastic toy.

textured character

Now the artist adds materials: leather, cloth and metal. This process is made with an example photo of real texture. The artist applies color information of texture to the right mesh part and then adds a bump map. The bump map is an additional invisible layer that tells the render engine where the uneven surface is.

texturing and material

Material bump map explained

Bump map reads information of light and dark pixels of actual texture. For example, if the artist apply rough cloth texture on bump layer, it will create a bump map of that cloth. The artist can pain underneath the bump layer with any color, while the bumps will remain on their place. Using this approach artists can quickly imitate any material: skin pores, leather mounds, cobblestones, wood cracks. This method doesn’t require additional work with mesh and doesn’t affect the game’s performance.

bump map

The artist then adjusts material’s properties: shininess, reflectivity, transparency and other. For example, he can make a 3D cube, make it transparent and add some reflectivity to simulate glass. Or take away the transparency and make it look like polished metal. Or add a rust metal texture and bump map to make it rusty.

The final step is to bake the texture. While the artist is working with 3D modeling software like Blender, the final texture exists in a bunch of layers which can not be transferred into the game engine or other modeling software. So 3D artists use baking: rendering engine “takes a screenshot” from all layers and combines them into universal texture file. Then the artist can load this file into Unity 3D or Unreal Engine and simply apply texture and material to the 3D model by adding the baked file.

Why do we need textures and materials in game developing?

There are two reasons to use texturing with materials: work efficiency and performance impact.

Let’s explain the work efficiency first. Imagine, that you have to build a blue brick wall. What will you do: paint every brick blue and build a wall out of them, or build a wall and then paint it blue? Now, after you built that wall, your boss came and said “Now paint it red!”. It’s easier, cheaper and faster to paint that blue wall red, instead of disassemble it, paint every brick red and then build again.

The same concept of blue and red wall goes with texturing. It’s easier to repaint the mesh and change its material, then to rework the mesh itself. So when it comes to polishing things, materials and textures are the most cost-efficient.

Here’s example. How do you think, how much time the artist spent on modeling this wall?

what is material in modeling example

The answer is “He didn’t model it at all. He just applied the material with a brush”

what is material example

Now to the performance impact. The most GPU-consuming process is calculating the polygons. The fewer polygons are on screen, the smoother the game feels. So game developers came up with a method to make the models look detailed, but without so much polygons on them: materials. The perfect example is Battlefield Bad Company 2, where DICE decided to create a high-quality texture for clothes in first-person view. They expanded this method to all surfaces: sand, stone, bricks, metal and so on. In result, Battlefield is one of the most realistic looking and hardware friendly game series just because DICE used materials wisely.

battlefield material example

Where to get textures and materials

There are two ways to get texturing assets: to buy or to create. Buying textures and materials isn’t the best thing to do. First, you’ll rarely get something that will perfectly fit your game. Second, if any adjustment needed, you’ll have to do it by yourself.

Creating textures and materials in-house is the best option if talking about quality. But it’s also the most expensive: you’ll need to hire an additional artist or to tell your artist to work more.

cool material for game

So here’s the best way to get your models textured: hire a game art outsourcing studio like Kreonit. Just fill the brief below, and we’ll start working.

Here’s our workflow:

  • At first, we will ask you about your game. We need to understand the visual style, to become familiar with the story and to set a list of all objects we need to work with.
  • Second, we’ll agree on the art style and other conditions. This is needed, so you will know what you’ll get, and we can plan our time.
  • Third, we are working on your project and sharing results with you.

What are the benefits of game art outsourcing? There are a few:

  • cost — Ukrainian artists are as good, as US or British ones, but with smaller salaries;
  • reliability — we pay attention to deadlines and always finish our job in time;
  • quality — we know how the games should look like and we want your game to look the best.
Keep in touch:
hi@kreonit.com
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