Complex UV Mapping The Easy Way

I have to admit, I didn't make this one up, but I observed it in some great models I got from Al3d. I'm glad he left in the leftovers on those models or I'd probably never thought of this.

Say you've got a model with various sundry shapes and surfaces, none of which are precisely Planar, Cylindrical, or Spherical. Yet, you want to set up some UVs on one of these surfaces. The built-in tools in Lightwave make it fairly difficult (granted, I'm not really experienced at this, so I could be missing something here). You can select some polygons, click "Assign UVs" and then you get your choice on one of the built-in projection types. But what if what you want to apply on to isn't quite facing the right way? I've tried transforming the UVs after assignment, and all I ended up with was horrible distortion.

The thing to remember is the UV coordinates are assigned to points. Once assigned, they're constant, no matter what transformations you place on the points. The trick here is we're going to apply a transformation before we assign the UVs. The trickier part is the transformation we apply will be disposable (no need to get tricky with Undo, or with some funky plugin).

Just create a new morph-map for your object. Then select the morph map. Now rotate, move, scale, whatever the model so that a simple projection is possible. Select the polygons, assign the UVs, then dispose of the morph map. That's it!

Here's an example: I've got a Viper model, from Battlestar Galactica. Here's an image of a wing:




I want to add the "NO STEP" image to where I've got green lines. The problem here is any planar projection is going to leave me with seriously distorted images. So, I make a morph-map. With the morph map selected, I'll rotate the wing so that it's not banked over:


Then rotate it so that the wing is aligned to my intended text alignment, and select the relevant polygons:


Create a new UV map with a simple Y projection (using defaults):


At this point, you can dispose of the morph map (or continue rotating for more applications). The UV map isn't scaled quite right just yet, so we'll tweak it a bit:

image image

I just scaled up the UVs, and moved them a little:



I find this technique substantially easier than trying to transform the UVs after the fact, and it's much easier than using UV Edit Pro.