Textures in 3D games are like surroundings in the real world. Anything you look at
in a 3D game is a texture mapped on a 3D model. I have done a good share of 3D
modeling in my career but probably even more texture painting. Quality textures are
essential to any 3D work, still or motion, they are enormously important. Great
textures can make even poorly designed models or environments look significantly
better then they actually are. This gallery shows some of the game textures I did for
computer games - Unreal 2, Warpath, Dungeons & Dragons Online: StormReach, and
others. Included are Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and skybox
textures. If you are looking for game textures to use in your projects,
see my selection of these
When I first started creating textures for my
sci-fi images they were simple base textures
with a rusty, weathered, used up look. I liked
them because they communicated visual richness
with a history behind it. Later when I was working
as a texture artist doing sci-fi work for 3D games,
I continued with that look and feel because
it works very well with angular structures that
are so common in sci-fi hardware designs.
I often get asked about my working process, or
if I could give some tips on how to design
game textures that will stand out. My process
is very linear.
First I need to know the function of the texture.
Is it a ceiling texture, a floor texture, a wall,
etc. Then I need to know about the environment
in which the texture will be used. A sci-fi ceiling texture
full of worn out hardware for some neglected cargo
ship will be very different from a ceiling texture
for a nice and clean Star Trek like control room.
Then I start by imagining how the texture will look
like in a general way in terms of colors used and
its structure. It is important that the texture works
in harmony with the other game textures in the environment
it will be used - so colors and style will match.
Next, I look through my library of base game textures -
which I created over the years - to see if I have
something that comes close to what I have in mind.
If not, I'll create a new base. By the way,
a base texture contains no structure
in terms of hardware panels or anything that stands out.
For example, a base metal ceiling texture typically
has a flat surface of some sort of metal. Perhaps
with some minor variations on it in terms of the
natural metallic pattern that gets created during the production
process of the metallic surface from molding or cutting.
When I have the base ceiling texture, I will start by
drawing the main outlines of the hardware panels using
the line tool. Once I have that, I may start doing some
highlights and shadows for the main panel surfaces.
I may also change the color somewhat. At this stage
the main parts of the ceiling texture will stand out
and already give an overall direction of the design.
Now, ceiling textures can be a bit tricky sometimes
because of the source of light in the game environment,
so I'll have to make sure the lighting is right.
Then I will start drawing the smaller panels or parts of
hardware, again doing highlights and shadows. Because
everything is on layers I can easily go back and change
any aspect of the design. Here, I may start adding
wear, or rust, or bump maps to the texture if required.
I will do a lot of color tweaking to make
sure it works as intended.
The final stage consists of adjusting all the elements
of the texture until they work in harmony. Not only
internally, on that ceiling texture, but also with other
textures in the game environment. The lighting, color, and
style all have to match so the 3D environment will work
visually as one coherent unit.
When creating textures for games it's important to have
a good sense for visual harmony of the structure on the
texture. Detailed areas should be broken up by larger
flat surfaces in a meaningful way that makes the texture
look natural. Similary, the rust, wear and bump should be
applied with care in areas where it makes sense for it
to occur. Textures which do not follow these rules look
confusing and unnatural, and therefore take longer to process
I can also recommend that texture artists use both 2D and
3D software during the creation process. Some
things can be too complicated or time consuming to paint
in 2D and are easier done in 3D software. 3D software offer
the advantage of rendering complicated objects from any
angle - which can be difficult or impossible to do in
Generally it's also a good idea to develop a habit for
observing how textures are created in the real world
and how they change over time.
Painting textures for games can be a very rewarding process.
Especially if enough freedom is given to express yourself
creatively. And of course, it's also great to see them
being rendered in game.
Art and illustration Studio
of Dawid Michalczyk.
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