3D Model Texturing Guide

Stefan Vaskevich
author article
CEO & Founder Cyberfox

Creating three–dimensional graphics includes drawing a bitmap image or textures on a polygonal model. This process is called 3D texturing. You can perform it in any 3D graphics editor . Many of them, however, are inconvenient for working with images. 

For example, sometimes you need to unfold the polygons of a 3D object in the editor and put a bitmap image on them. After the overlay is complete, the model will collapse back into 3D, and you can evaluate the results. The process can be repeated if it needs corrections. However, special programs for drawing on 3D models eliminate such inconveniences. Such programs allow you to apply a picture on the fly while working with the model. In addition, they are equipped with a large set of tools, increasing the efficiency and convenience of the work.

What to do if you need texturing

Texturing a model is a complex and lengthy process. To do it, you need to have experience and practice constantly. In addition, it is necessary to study a lot of programs and their functionality. 

Many, instead, turn to companies which have specialists in 3D models on their staff who will transform an object into a realistic model in a few hours.

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Based on your project, we will suggest how to achieve the best result. Just send the materials you have.


Our experience and knowledge allow us to offer the best solutions to show your ideas. If you have questions, just ask.


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You do not need to understand the software or 3D imaging technology. Everything is available at CyberFox.

What is Texturing?

A texture is a bitmap image superimposed on a polygonal model. In simple words, it is a drawing applied to a sculpture, only pixels are used instead of paint, and the statue is replaced by a digital object made of interconnected dots. The quality depends on the pixel density of the polygon. In simple editors, texturing takes a lot of time.

You can create the texture in any graphic editor, for example, MS Paint or Adobe Photoshop, but the images are then used in technical 3D modeling programs. For high-quality texturing, a simple picture on the model is not enough. 

The model itself must meet the requirements of the end user. The main consumers of such products are ordinary gamers and movie lovers. Therefore, it is worth understanding whether the user’s hardware will cope with the finished product. 

Large-format textures are designed for users with powerful computers. Therefore, only suitable hardware will be able to show your work in all its glory. On the other hand, low-poly textures will not look good to the users.

When creating a texture, keep in mind that it must correspond to the object so you can achieve a realistic effect.

Material Types

It is essential to decide which material and 3D texture to use.

Basic materials

This is a polished material that consists of color and volume. A basic material is an excellent way to achieve a realistic model. It is widely used in the gaming industry.

It can be a clean surface, for example, leather, wood, fabric, plastic, metal, etc., usually with no damage or stains. However, it may have minor scratches that emphasize the individuality of the character.

Physically based rendering

Physically based rendering is an essential element for creating complex textures. Many specialists use light reflection and shadows. It is done to achieve a realistic look.

Types of Texturing

The texture is an exclusively visual characteristic of the material. It is the color and pattern on its surface. The texture of some materials, such as wood or onyx, is unique and allows you to understand what the object is made of immediately. Also, the surface pattern helps convey the object’s shape.

Let’s analyze what types of 3D texturing there are.

Geometric texturing

In this case, you can use photos to overlay the model. The designer can change the shape of the object at any time.

Solid texturing

Solid texturing is the establishment or setting of the texture of the image of the surface of solids in three-dimensional space. It is made using special functions that define texture options 

Texturing Steps

Let’s consider what steps will allow you to achieve a realistic texture.

UV Unwrapping

When applying a 2D texture to a 3D model, an operation similar to wrapping occurs. It is called UV mapping, and the process is performed in a 3D modeling application. You can resize the texture of a 3D model and move it using a special button. Resizing textures is especially useful for creating high-quality objects.

The U and V coordinates are limited in range from 0 to 1. The scan can be built either manually or automatically.

Modern three-dimensional hardware considers that UV transformation within a single triangle is affine. However, the 3D modeler chooses precisely how to connect the triangles, and the ability to build a successful scan is one of the indicators of a modeler’s skill. 

Texture painting and shading

At this stage, various auxiliary digital parts are added. Then, texture painting and shading are carried out on the object. During the process, the designer can change or add elements. 

A darkening process follows it. It is a vital step to give volume and relief to the object. The darkening process is suitable for landscapes. 

Lighting & Rendering

Lighting is fundamentally essential for correct rendering. Lighting creates acute effects on the image — this is similar to how photographers use lighting sources to adjust their subjects. If there are photos of a similar design, try to restore the lighting using these photos.

A good starting position for illumination is a point located slightly above the observer and shifted slightly away from them, similar to a light source placed over the observer’s shoulder.

3D model texture mapping

3D texture model mapping is the final stage. The overlap depends on the position of the object in space. You cannot apply a texture to a surface without considering the distance to the thing and its orientation relative to the viewer. Such a scene would look bad. 

Flat texture mapping is often used for large models, especially when the viewer can only see one side of the thing. A matte overlay is easy to use because it only requires setting the direction of texture overlay on the object. Since the texture is superimposed on the object in only one order with a flat overlay, the sides of the thing are usually striped.

Another overlay method is called cylindrical. With a cylindrical overlay, the texture is collapsed into a cylinder where the object is located. 

How to Design Textures

For texture design, you should configure the file correctly. Next, use one primary color. Then, go to the filter library and select the appropriate one. If necessary, edit the filter. Finally, if necessary, use a texture for multiple models.

How to Become a 3D Texture Artist

A 3D texture artist is a person who performs 3D modeling, which consists of giving a realistic texture to any object you create. The texturing stage is critical because it immediately follows the modeling in the development of a 3D object

It is necessary to consider the object’s appearance carefully. Roughness, luster, or dullness are properties of an object, so a textural artist endows models or creatures with such properties. This means that a texturing master must be a real expert in various qualities and characteristics of surfaces.

Build a Versatile Texture Artist Portfolio

Many teachers who teach the basics of this profession recommend that every novice texture artist regularly photograph various surfaces: metal with rust, half-burnt burlap, the bark of multiple trees, sandy beaches, etc.

Such a portfolio of real photos is a real treasure for a professional texturing master. Original material photographed with a professional camera can be processed in special programs and actively used in their projects. This will help you to fill your portfolio.

Show Different Techniques

Constantly improve your skills and find the best technique for yourself. Follow the trends in the world of 3D texturing. It will allow you to always be aware of new practices. Get to know the different 3D texture artists. Exchange experience with them and hone your skills.

Take a Course

Universities today do not teach this profession, only related specialties. Therefore, courses in private educational institutions will help anyone who wants to master the work of a master in texturing.

There are also many other training options: full-time or distance, from scratch or not. It all depends on a particular person’s knowledge, ability to learn, and tendency to self-educate. Attending master classes from successful texture artists and studying the details and types of texture is the key to a successful career.


A texture artist must have classical drawing skills to create sketches without problems.

Also, to become a successful texturing specialist, it is necessary to master a lot of theoretical and practical material. The main tools of the texture artist are programs. You must be proficient in software like Autodesk Mudbox, Photoshop, ZBrush, The Foundry, MARI, 3D-Coat, and CINEMA 4D Studio. Therefore, practice constantly to hone your drawing skills.

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The procedure for putting a texture overlay on an object depends on the program. For example, texture mapping in 3D Max is carried out using the VW Map modifier. Go to the Modifier List tab in the right command panel to enable it.
Select an object in the editor and switch to editing mode. Next, select the polygons on which the texture will be located and press the U key twice on the control panel from below.
This process depends on the program. In Blender, select the Shader Editor button. Then Add > Texture > Image Texture.
To achieve realism in 3D texturing, you need to add lighting and dimming correctly. So again, a properly selected surface plays a vital role.
To achieve an accurate texture for walls, you should use an actual image. You can find one in a texture gallery in a particular category.
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