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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really hate setting up UVs. I’d rather have bamboo shoved under my fingernails and undergo Chinese Water Torture. There have been a number of techniques and tools that have come up in recent years to alleviate this animosity. “Pelting” has been the word of the day.
I’ve been looking over Unwrella, which is available for both Maya and Max. It comes from 3d-io, who seem to have specialized in making this time-consuming, tedious task work for both games and visual effects. Their flagship is Flatiron, which is a tool for game production to generate and manage UVs for large scenes. But we will not focus on that today. We will look at a nice little tool for the average 3D Joe to make his life easier (not to say that Unwrella isn’t invaluable for larger productions).
I opened up the tool in Max (by the way, make sure you read the installation fine print as it wants DirectX 9 regardless of how far advanced your direct drivers are), and within a few minutes I was able to flay a dragon’s skin into a well-distributed UV map.
How was I able to accomplish such a feat? Unwrella utilizes points on edge loops to quickly slice out components of the character and generate seams on the model where the UV textures will meet. Not only that, but multiple models can be UV’d with the same mapping–ideal for games, where memory is always a concern. And one more benefit is that you don’t have to leave the Max or Maya environment to go to a standalone UV tool.
Unwrella is one of those ‘big things come in little packages’ deals. A simple program that can increase productivity by a lot.
Price: 149 euros (approx. $205 U.S.); volume/site licenses and educational discounts available.