Rapid Asset Creation and Texturing

Throughout the semester we’ve used fast paced import/export of .fbx files from Grasshopper/Rhino → 3DS Max → UE4, and then applying basic materials. We then created atmosphere through layering light and sound together, but being able to customise your assets is a strong skill to learn. Using the Quixel Suite, which allows for mesh texturing through Adobe’s Photoshop, provides a relatively fast alternative to applying textures to individual objects within UE4.

This post will omit the 3d modelling process and use in UE4, focusing on the export from 3DS Max to Quixel.

For our studio we wanted to create our own base for an interactive button that wasn’t created using UE4’s default geometry. This was created through several edited polys which were attached together.

Material IDs then need to be set to their respective faces. I’ve separated the base of the stand, the shaft and the tray; the idea is to add some richness to the object, in contrast to a singular material which seem out of place when applied to multiple objects.

The UVs are then unwrapped — I’ve used the plugin Steamroller to do so. These are essentially each face spread out onto a map, which will form the base of the material. At the bottom of the ‘Edit UVs’ window is a drop down menu that’ll let you select IDs in case you need to confirm which faces are set to which IDs.

You then need to create a Multi/Sub-Object material within the material editor, and apply colours to each ID that you’ll be using. By default, there are 10 IDs in the node, but more can be setup if needed.

With the material applied, it’s time to export. Firstly, export the mesh as a .obj with faces set to triangles; this is (apparently) the best format that Quixel reads.

After that, select Render to Texture and bake out a DiffuseColor map (shown below), as well as a normal and ambient occlusion map.

Loading the Quixel Suite will open up Photoshop. It contains:

  • NDO — Lets you create custom normal maps
  • DDO — applying and editing materials
  • 3DO — Mesh Previewer

There’s not much of a need to detail the normal for this object, so open up the maps you’ve just rendered with DDO and hit ‘Create’.

Opening up the 3DO mesh previewer, currently without any applied materials. You can change the light settings (the sphere in the toolbar) to UE4’s, and navigate around the mesh using the standard Autodesk controls.

Create a material/smart material using the DDO menu on the left.

Quixel’s Material Library

Quixel has an inbuilt library of materials that already work with layers; after applying them you can enter their folders and adjust colours and maps etc.

After selecting a material you can hit the square on the right of the layer menu to select the colour used in their respective material IDs to see it applied. (You can also click on the ‘Edit Dynamask’ button immediately on the right of the folder icon.

Custom Paint Layers can also be applied — 3DO has its own set of brushes that lets you portray damage or paint on symbols. Here, I’ve added a few scratches around the edges and created a symbol that’ll surround the button.

Clicking the paint icon in its layer will apply it to the map, making it ready for exporting.

You can then use DDO’s exporter with the UE4 option selected to render out all the maps you need to insert into a material in the engine.

Like what you read? Give Jason Vorapatrakul a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.