At TexturingXYZ, our aim has always been to provide quality and value to our maps, to create realistic characters and creatures. Also, we strongly think that producing universal and adaptative maps will help you achieve stunning results, for any workflow. We try as much as possible to innovate, in order to answer your needs with the best solutions.
After releasing our Multi-channel Faces library in September 2018, we once again answered the requests and suggestions. Your advice and guidance has been a real help to widen our scope over the years.
Since we launched the store, our maps have become one of the keystone resources of the CG community, especially for VFX, feature films, and advertising. But their huge amount of detail was not yet flexible for AR, VR and the Game industry's needs.
These past months, we have been working hard on a new collection of seamless skin displacement maps. We wanted to explore the fields of Real-time rendering with our standards. This MicroSkin library features 125 packs with an undepreciated level of detail, with various skin areas and unique patterns you can pick, depending on your wishes and needs !
What to expect in each pack:
For the MicroSkin library, we included secondary and tertiary displacement textures, as well as a normal map combining both. And every one of them is seamless! Blend secondary and tertiary displacement, or directly plug the Normal map ! Each pack has two texture folders, either in TIF or in TGA file formats. Overall, these textures offer you the flexibility to get the same results, with any workflow.
The skin-flows scale between body and face regions are really different, so face packs come with 1k maps, whereas body packs include 2K textures.
You can now create endless skin surfaces. In no time.
We would like to explain briefly what a tiled (or « seamless ») texture really is, and what it means for us.
Texturing can involve the usage of repeatable maps, called tiled textures. They are either helpful to :
optimize memory usage for certain cases,
establish a base texture to work with.
build quick detail in your sculpting software (alphas or displacement), You can then tweak them in your renderer in no time, and get creative!
The concept is to repeat a low-resolution square map multiple times, to cover a whole UV-Space. But these repetitions produce some issues, which are :
visible seams/borders around the texture edges,
recognizable patterns repetition.
Here is a quick demonstration with a non-tiled texture, and the problems we encounter when repeating it twice :
Therefore, it requires a tiling process to remove them.
Thanks to the technology and tools that we have developed to achieve this, the MicroSkin library enables Artists to repeat skin flows and patterns at any scale, and how many times they want. They can express their creativity with no boundaries !
We would like to share with you two different workflows, to apply tiled textures, . For each of them, we will be using our MicroSkin maps on a basemesh by Şefki Ibrahim.
This method is more artistic. MicroSkin packs are used to build a work base to get creative with afterwards ! There are three steps :
To repeat our maps on a mesh with UVs, we will first be using Tiling. This automatic projection repeats the map a certain amount of time in both axis of the UV-Space.
In order to preserve the map ratio, the U and V repeat values need to be identical! Also, matching the scale of the pack’s description will really help to create a realistic feel.
Multiple softwares provide this Tiling feature. Just load your maps, and make them tile on your mesh! Here are the locations of this function and quick tutorials in different softs :
In Substance Painter:
2- Triplanar Mapping (Single UV Layout and UDIM compatible) :
After this step, we can detect seams issues by inspecting a bit on UV borders. We can solve this by two methods :
Texture projection & painting on border edges, directly on the mesh ;
Triplanar Mapping, which we will cover a bit more here : This mapping method projects a texture three times, directly on the mesh. Each projection is respectively made along the X, Y and Z axis, then automatically blended between each other. Therefore, this projection method should create no seams and texture deformation, especially on rather flat surfaces.
Here are the different places where you'll find Triplanar Mapping features: In Painter: Plug the Normal or Cavity + Height (in two Layers) maps directly to the corresponding channels. Tweak the « Repeat » value to find the best ratio.
After plugging your texture in « Tile Image », tweak the « U Repeat » and « V Repeat » values to find the best ratio.
We then add a Mask on the Triplanar Mapping Layer, to bring back the Tiling Layer. This Blend helps to retrieve texture ratio on high-relief parts, such as the eyebrow arch, the nose, and others around UV Seams. And this mask can be re-used for later purposes !
Here is the result we have, afther the whole process:
If you want to repeat the process for other maps, you can project by just replacing the plugged maps. Otherwise, you can create new Tiling and Triplanar Mapping Layers, and plug the same Blend Mask.
After you’re done, export the maps.
3- Get creative!
At this point, you have everything at hand to keep working on this texture. You can :
directly apply it on a sculpt, in Zbrush ;
as Overlay, to add some details to a displacement map ;
use other maps to provide more details to the texture you got in output ;
combine different maps together on a mesh, by using painted RGB Masks. Each channel represents a region where you will mask up a map.
Example of a RGB Mask:
Artistic & Creative
Establishes a great foundation to work with
Quick process for a single asset
cost-effective if you have to do it multiple times, or to gain time on futur projects
This method relies more on granting flexibility and the power for the artists to work in a dynamic and non-destructive way. Softwares such as Maya, 3DSMax, Unreal Engine and Unity provide a Nodal system, where you can setup flexible and helpful Shading Networks !
The main idea for this method is to load multiple maps directly in your Nodal Network, and reproduce this nodal blueprint :
Here is an example on how this network can be implemented in Maya:
Download the scene template [Maya 2018+ / Arnold]
You will have to make a RGB Mask for every three Seamless Maps. Then, plug into the Blender/Mask the R, G or B Channel, corresponding to the area you want to load your Seamless Map. Repeat the process, for as many Maps you have. Tweak U & V repetitions, and the intensity of each map, to find the best result.
Tweakable in real time
Flexible with inputs
Shareable, and easily reproductible
Memory Usage optimisation
Relies on softwares that have Shading Network and/or Nodal systems
Depending on UVs, does not solve seam issues, that only triplanar mapping or painting can fix.
Q: After these workflows, I still notice recognizable patterns. How can I fix that?
A: Still, we have to face the most common issue while using a seamless map. When repeating it a huge number of times, we can still visually isolate the pattern. Breaking up this effect will provide a more organic look at the end ! To achieve this, we have to add new frequencies in the map, without breaking its tiling.
Since our textures mainly provide high frequencies, adding more of them would just destroy its content. Therefore, we'll only add low-frequencies to provide surface variations, and break up the repetition recognition.
Here are multiple ways of doing this:
You can add 2D or 3D Procedural-based Noises, Fractals, or Seamless maps directly projected on the mesh. For 2D textures, like the previous Tiling method we described, projecting a map on the UV-Space of the mesh will create seam/borders issues. For 3D ones, projection method depends on the mesh.
Examples of various procedural projection nodes in Maya.
Paint a map on a texturing software with an organic pattern, and load it in your Renderer/Engine.
Use another MicroSkin map, then blur it. Load this texture at a higher scale than the others.
Tips: Bluring an image only keeps low-frequencies, and removes high-frequencies.
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