Guide to Texture Mapping for 3D Artists

Updated on: Feb 14, 2023

3D Design

7 minute read

Texture Mapping
Texture Mapping Guide

Are you curious about the ultra-realistic and lifelike details in 3D models? How do they appear to have the same coloring details, similar surfaces, and other distinct physical properties as actual objects? Well, the answer is texture mapping.

Read this complete piece of information and get all the answers on what the texture mapping technique is, how it is done, and what importance it has in 3D designing. Let’s begin!

What is Texture Mapping?

Texture Mapping is the process of defining high frequency detail, surface texture, or color information on a 3D model. In this process, a 2D surface, also called a “Texture Map”, is wrapped around a 3D model. So in simple terms, Texture Mapping is a way of adding realism to a 3D model.

The Basics of Texture Mapping

The idea is simple enough. Let's say you have a model of a house —what if it had window "panes" that were transparent, so you could see what's inside?

Texture mapping is what accomplishes this kind of realistic quality required.

Instead of just being plain white, the windows could be transparent with a glass-like texture. That way, what's inside the room can be seen through the window instead of what looks like nothing at all.

This is just one way that texture mapping can be used. To learn more about how texture mapping works, read about some different types of texture mapping below.

Do you have a 3D model that your team is working on, but it just doesn't seem "real" enough? Texture mapping can help. This technique is not only useful for 3D modeling, but for 3D rendering as well

  • Textures can provide information on how 3D objects should look, how light reflects off of them, and how they should appear under certain conditions.This can be used on any 3D object, including people, buildings, landscapes, or anything that normally has a surface.
  • Textures can also be added or subtracted to provide more detail or hide those features you don't want the public to see.
  • Textures can help 3D models look more 3D and less 2D.

Availing 3D modeling and rendering services helps 3d models look realistic by using different texture mapping techniques done by experienced designers.

How to Create a Texture Map

Like any other procedure in 3D modeling, the process of texture mapping also includes various levels that are explained below to make the journey easy for the new buds in the process.

  1. Creation

    When it comes to the creation part, there are several ways to acquire texture mapping that includes digital photography, scanning, painted on a 3D surface using 3D paint tools or designed in an image manipulation software, most commonly used are Photoshop and GIMP.

  2. Texture Application

    In simple words, texture application is just like applying a patterned paper on a plain white box to make it look textured. The process using which this can be achieved is called as vertex attributes that fall under the UV wrapping tools.

    Apart from the above, the other method using which the procedural transformation can be possible from 3d space to texture space is with the material.

    Texture Space - During the rasterization process, texture mapping maps the model surface or the screen space to convert it into the textured one. During the process, the look and feel of the textured map is undistorted.

  3. Multitexturing

    This process includes the multi levels of texturing on a single polygon, along with this the detailed based textures and microtextures are also added to this to give the details of higher frequency. According to recent processes, modern graphics can use more than 10 layers in a single designing process and using shaders, the fidelity can be easily increased.

  4. Texture Filtering

    This process basically governs the improvement of the textured quality of any model or design, basically the texture pixels that gives a professional touch to the final result in texture mapping. Lack of texture filtering may result in bad looking artifacts, especially aliasing, etc.

  5. Texture Streaming

    The main reason why this process is a part of texture mapping is to boost the texture and color palette of any object or design. Using this process you can choose which mipmap levels can be loaded into the memory.

    In this process two or more different resolutions are available to choose from to be loaded into the memory based on the draw distance from the viewer and how much memory is available for textures, thus it is a very important element of the whole process.

  6. Baking

    Also known by the name render mapping, this is a process in which the texture data can be transferred from one 3D model to another. In simple terms it is used when 3D modelers try to convert a high-poly model to a low-poly model. The reason is simple, the low poly model has low data and thus the file size is small and this is the very reason why it is important to convert the files into the latter.

    One more reason why this process is quite in demand is because it uses high-detailed models from 3D sculpting software to approximate them with meshes and makes it more suitable for realtime rendering.

Different Types of 3D Texture Maps

Texture mapping can be done in various ways, and there are several different types.

Here are some of the most common types you'll see.

  • Color Maps

    Color texture map
    Color Mapping

    One of the most common texture mapping types is using a color map. As its name implies, this type of map uses colors and patterns to add color, texture, and shading to a 3D model.

  • Bump Maps

    Bump texture map
    Bump Mapping

    A bump map is the most fundamental type of map that alters geometry. They are the fewest resource-intensive because they use a simple algorithm to change the model's appearance.

    Bump maps make use of a grayscale texture map. Based on the shade, black represents the lowest part of the faked geometry, white represents the peak, and gray represents somewhere between.

  • Normal Maps

    Normal texture maps
    Normal Mapping

    Normal maps are a little more complex, but this texture mapping can make a 3D visualization look even more realistic. These maps are essential for giving your textures depth.

    This technique employs complex calculations to simulate how light interacts with the surface of a material to affect more minor bumps and dents.

  • Displacement Maps

    Displacement texture maps
    Displacement Mapping

    Displacement maps, like bump maps, store height information and modify geometry when rendered, altering the appearance of both shading and silhouette.

    A grayscale texture with height information that is projected onto a highly tessellated mesh to create displaced surface detail. It is also known as a height map.

  • Specular Maps

    Specular Maps
    Specular Mapping

    Specular maps are another way to make a 3D model look more realistic. This type of map can be used with things like sunglasses and other items that reflect light.

    This map is used in non-PBR specular workflows because it specifies where the reflection should and should not appear.

The Benefits of Using Texture Mapping for Your Business

Are you wondering if this is something you should do?

There are several benefits of using texture mapping for your business, and if you haven't considered it before, it's time to think about how it could help you.

  • Texture Maps Can Have a More Realistic Appearance

    Imagine if you could see your products or services in 3D before deciding on how they should look.

    Texture mapping can show you this without spending a lot of money or time creating an entire 3D model.

  • Texture Maps Can Help You Save Your Money

    3D mapping can help you save money because you don't have to create a 3D model from scratch before production. This lets you make changes to the design while still in the planning phase.

  • Texture Maps Can Make It Easier to Market Your Product

    With texture mapping, you'll be able to show off your product or services attractively, also allowing the customers to see how the product will look before making a purchase decision.

So, if you're wondering why texture mapping is essential for 3D modeling, the above information tells you that it's more than just making your models look better.

This is why UV mapping texture is essential for 3D modeling and rendering.

Check our website for further information on 3D modeling, rendering, and other 3D visualization services.

Want to know how our 3D texturing services can help your business?

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Frequently Asked Questions

Texture mapping is a method of wrapping and blending an image onto a 3D model.

The term texture may be unfamiliar to you, but it simply means that instead of having objects or people appear flat, you give them some depth and texture by adding an image onto their surface.

Texture mapping is primarily used for implementing high frequency details, color information, surface texture, etc., to any 3D model.

Texture mapping is important for 3D models to get a realistic appearance. Also for 3D designers to detect issues while exporting from design programs. Depending upon which material the texture is applied to, PBR or Non-PBR, the 3D artist can adjust the texture maps used and get the 3D models look extremely realistic.

In the 3D modeling process, texture, material, and baking, all the three aspects perform a crucial role. Texture mapping is the process of adding color, texture, surface details like reflection, glossiness, transparency, metallic shine to a 3D object. It is done by adding 2d detail to the 2D polygon.

Material texturing is adding the optical properties of the 3D model, will it be dull or shiny, is ray tracing required, or will there be a halo effect, so and so forth. Materials are usually assigned by layers, and these attributes are determined by a shader, which is a piece of code.

Texture baking is another vital process in 3D modeling that transfers details from one model to another. It is primarily done to generate libraries of texture maps that show the different attributes of the surface of a 3D model in a particular scene, viz., materials, color, texture, shadows, reflections, lighting, etc.)

Sushmita Roy

A seasoned 3D professional with a creative focused, and a knack for diverse 3D designs, software and the technology. She's associated with ThePro3DStudio for long enough to prove her mettle and make every 3D projects successful. When she’s not busy working for a new project, she shares valuable insights from her own experience.