LightWave: Using the Zbrush for UV Maps

LightWave and Zbrush are some of the most important tools in a 3D artist’s arsenal, and do an amazing job at trimming down the number of technical decisions that one has to make during the creation process. Immediately after modeling the object, you can start painting textures and creating UV maps.  You will need: Zbrush and LightWave.

Note: If you are a Mac user, please note that Zbrush works with LightWave 9.0 on the Mac. It will not work with or support earlier versions on the Mac platform.

Step 1: Create a UV Map

Assuming that you have a 3D object model loaded into the modeler, you will click the Texture menu in the Tool palette and click the GUVTiles button. This will apply advanced Group UV to your model. Once done, you will notice that an automatic UV map has been created.

Step 2: Subdivide Your Object

You will now proceed to subdivide your object. You will navigate to the Tool menu, and then select the Display Properties. Once more properties are available, you will change the DSmooth slider values from 0 to 1. This will smoothen the surface. You will now move to the Geometry submenu, select the Suv option, and then click on the Divide button. You can subdivide the object a number of times and each time new polygons are added to the object.

Step 3: Use LightWave UVs

Generally, it is found that using the GUV Tile is one of the quickest ways to generate good UVs. But, you might want to use LightWave UVs to achieve different results. The Zbrush UVs make it very difficult to use the actual UV as a reference for painting. LightWave UVs are also much better at painting on inorganic objects. LightWave presents an easier course by the way of its Atlas UV map.

One of the chief advantages that LightWave UVs offer is that you can use multiple UV maps. The Zbrush OBJ format can only handle a single UV. While using LightWave UVs you will make sure of the following:

  1. Apply each UV map to a separate surface.
  2. Make sure that you don’t have any overlapping UVs. This causes Zbrush to crash.

Also, make sure that after sculpting and painting in Zbrush, you save your object. This will allow you to draw the object again onto the canvas and make changes incrementally. Please bear in mind that if you have used the MakeAlpha option under the texture menu options, you can convert your bump to an alpha. This will allow you to save both maps with your object.

Another important point to pay attention to is that the Zbrush files are much larger when compared to LightWave files. You can save quite a lot of space by lowering the Subdivision Level of your object to 1 before saving.