3D modeling and texturing the astronaut for Human Motion in Microgravity

July 18, 2013
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This post outlines the process used to model and texture the astronaut in ARTEMiS’s Unity3D game Human Motion in Microgravity.

astronaut

1. Reference images

Photographs were taken of the astronaut suit from the front, back, and side views. (The Bio-Suit TM, designed by Guillermo Trotti and fabricated by Dainese, Italy, is a future generation spacesuit, which is currently being developed by the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics department for NASA.)

2. Modeling – Maya

The reference photos were imported into Maya as image planes and used as templates for creating the model.

(Note: A helpful tutorial for creating a 3D humanoid model is lynda.com’s Maya 2011: Modeling a Character with Ryan Kittleson.)

3. UV mapping – Headus

A UV map was generated using Headus.

4. Creating stencils – Photoshop

To apply the photographs to the model in Mudbox, stencils were first created in Photoshop by adjusting the suit texture to fit orthographic screenshots of the model.

5. Applying stencils – Mudbox

The stencils were imported into Mudbox and “painted” onto the model.

However, because the photographs did not have consistent perspective or lighting, they could not be used as the final texture; in particular, the lines from each orthographic view did not align along seams (Fig. 1 below).

6. Drawing lines – Mudbox

The applied photos did, however, serve as useful guides for hand drawing a texture. Lines were traced with the paint brush tool and a tablet. This method allowed for lines continuous in all views along seams; however, painting such thin and precise lines with the brush yielded relatively unsteady lines (Fig. 2 above).

7. Tracing lines with the pen tool – Photoshop

The lines of the UV texture map were traced with the pen tool to create paths, and strokes were applied to the paths (Fig. 3 above). If lines later had to be altered, the paths were easily edited and re-stroked.

8. Final texture for UV mapping in Maya

The figure below shows the final Photoshop image, which was UV-mapped onto the astronaut model in Maya.

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for.

- Georgia O'Keeffe