Over the years I've learned and developed my own solutions and methods for complex texturing. The blood knight is the second of several characters I'm making and since he's the one who experiences the battle up close and personal more than the others, I've decided that with him I will try to push my methods to add many details such as dirt, scratches, stains, blood, decorations etc' much further than before in a method I like to call "multi-channel texturing". My main focus on this character was the texturing / shading and in this tutorial I will share the process, considerations and a few other tips.
Multi-channel texturing - general idea, pros and cons The method I refer to as Multi channel texturing takes advantage of the ability to have many different map channels (in other softwares like Maya this is referred to as UV-sets) for the same object while it's material is made out of many maps mixed together using masks with these map channels.
In other words - almost the entire texturing process of the character's armor parts is done within Max through the UV's using only one material and a few textures.
The end result of this is that all the armor's parts (over 40 different objects in the blood knight case) use the same material with just a few textures, as opposed to the "classic" texturing method in which you end up with many materials and hundreds of texture files (assuming each material will have several textures for color / bump / specular etc').
- MAJOR RESOURCE SAVER - all the armor parts use only 1 material and a few textures for everything.
- since many of the textures are applied in tiling, it allows for VERY HIGH RES details at the relative low resources cost
- Immediate feedback from within the viewport as to where details fall, this is especially helpful when working on things such as the side decorations which can be deformed specifically to the shape of the mesh (which is rather hard to do with uv's / photoshop using "standard" methods).
- Ability to quickly clone your models and create many variations in the textures by simply altering the UVs (if I wanted to make many clones of this character with variations in the details such as scratches, blood stains, dirt, etc' - I wouldn't need to create new textures, just play around with each clone's UV'S)
- Somewhat limited control for specific details (making "global" textures that will be used for all the model's parts kind of limits you if you want some parts to have unique details without making new textures specifically for them).
- The material tends to be heavy and give slow feedback in the material editor when "show end result" is on, due to it's complexity. The more details you add, the heavier the material becomes and it does get harder to keep track of everything.