This tutorial will give you an in depth overview on how to use the Slideknit Script to add detail to any Highpoly Mesh using UV`s and the Morpher and SkinWrap modifiers in 3d Studio Max. I will show you how to create UV`s for your highpoly object, turn them into flat geometry, model on top of the UV`s and then morph them back to their original shape deforming whatever is modeled on top of it. I will go through the following steps for this tutorial
- Script installation
- Creating target highpoly geometry and tiling detail geometry
- Identifying a target area of the highpoly object for the detail geometry to be applied to and creating a straight, rectangular shaped UV Layout of it
- Converting the UV Layout into geometry using the slideknit script
- Linking the detail geometry to the UV Geometry using a Skinwrap Modifier
- Morphing the detail geometry to the highpoly target surface
- Troubleshooting and Tips and Tricks
First of all, you need to download the slideknit script here. I could not find a working download link on the internet anymore so I uploaded it onto my webspace. I am not the author of the script, it was created by slidelondon.com so I wanted to say thank you for doing so first – It is a great script and will save you a lot of time.
After you download the script, go into your 3d Studio Max Installation directory and look for a folder called MacroScripts in your UI_In folder. The script needs to go in here. For my installation of 3DStudio Max the path would be C:\Program Files\Autodesk\3ds Max 2013\UI_ln\MacroScripts\SlideTools-SlideKnit.mcr
After you install the script, you need to restart 3d Studio Max or run the script first by selecting MaxScript -> Run Script -> SlideTools-SlideKnit.mcr.If everything worked correctly, the script will appear in your Customize User Interface Window
If you want to create a button for the script go to the Toolbars Tab in your Customize User Interface menu, select the slideknit action and drag and drop it onto any of your toolbars.
Creating target highpoly geometry and tiling detail geometry
Identifying a target area of the highpoly object for the detail geometry to be applied to and creating a straight, rectangular shaped UV Layout of it
Select the area you want to unwrap and apply an Unwrap UVW modifier to it. To get a rectangular shaped layout, use the ‘Unfold Strip from Loop’ functionality with having the loop in the middle of your strip selected.
After using this feature, make sure to check the VW channel by switching to it in the upper right corner of your Edit UV`s window. Usually ‘Unfold Strip from Loop’ will create non flat uv`s in the VW channel so switch to it by clicking and holding the UV button and then selcting the VW channel. Flatten the geometry in that channel otherwise the slideknit script will create non flat geometry.
Switch back to UV mode and arrange your UV`s in the 0-1 area using the Pack UV`s feature or manually move / scale them.
Converting the UV Layout into geometry using the slideknit script
After you have created the UV`s for the target area, turbosmooth your mesh and create a copy of the target area in the final resolution of your mesh. You need to use a smoothed version of the target area because this will be the shape that we want the detail geometry to morph onto – not the unsmoothed control cage. With the copy selected run the slideknit script with its default settings. This will create a new piece of geometry with a morhper modifier on top of it. When running the slideknit script, make sure UV channel is set to channel 1 and UV Scale is set to 100. if the difference in scale between your morpher geometry and your target geometry is too big, try to play with the UV scale value until you have a mesh that has roughly the same scale.
Linking the detail geometry to the UV Geometry using a Skinwrap Modifier
Move your detail geometry on top of your morpher geometry and match the outline of the shape using the scale tool and FFD modifiers. Make sure the distance in between the pieces is as small as possible to prevent any errors.
Once your detail geometry is in the right location add a SkinWrap modifier. Under parameters, click on Add and select the morpher geometry. Make sure to set the Deformation Engine to Face Deformation and the Falloff to 0.001. Depending on the Scale of your objects, you might have to play around with the Threshold value. The bigger your objects are, the bigger the Threshold value needs to be for the skinwrap modifier to catch all of the vertices.
Morphing the detail geometry to the highpoly target surface
Once the Skinwrap modifier is done calculating, select your morpher geometry and morph it back to its original shape by setting the target spinner to 100%. This will deform both your morpher geometry and your detail geometry.
In order to work with the now deformed detail geometry, you need to copy it using the snapshot function. If you would just create a normal copy of the mesh, it will revert back to its original shape. Select the deformed detail geometry and go to Tools->Snapshot. Make sure it is set to Snapshot -> Single and Clone Method -> Mesh. Clicking OK will create a copy of your detail geometry that you can now work with.
All you need to do now is align the detail geometry back to your original Highpoly Mesh.
Troubleshooting and Tips and Tricks
- Whenever you use the slideknit script or the skinwrap modifier, make sure your transformations are reset on all of those objects by using the Reset Xform modifier in the Utilities tab
- Make sure that your UV Geometry is flat in the VW channel before running the slideknit script. Use the vertical scale tool to flatten UV`s in that channel
- Try to keep the difference in scale between your UV morpher geometry and your target surface as small as possible by using the UV scale function in the slideknit script
- Make sure that your detail geometry is tesselated densly enough to support the deformation on your target surface, especially when working with steep angles. Sometimes applying one turbosmooth modifier before applying the skinwrap modifier will give your detail geometry enough tesselation to support your target shape
- Think about working with detail geometry in the same way as working with floaters. Create a library of detail geometry pieces and share them between your models to quickly add detail and play with differnt looks.
- Download a demo scene with the described technique here