How Do I Shade / Texture Stuff?: Shading Workflow Overview
By Neil Blevins
Created On: Nov 12th 2013
Updated On: Nov 19th 2016

So this lesson discusses my workflow for shading / texturing models. This topic is of course huge, so consider this an overview. I've added links to specific tutorials on specific techniques, and check the Shading / Texturing section of my CG Education page for further lessons on materials and shading. But this lesson is a good place to start.

If you'd like a video version of this lesson, please consider buying my Hard Surface Shading And Texturing Gnomon DVD, the first part of the DVD is me going over in greater detail a slightly older version of the same material below.

This workflow is the process I go through when shading any sort of object, regardless of whether its a character, vehicle, set, or prop, hard surface or organic, maya, max, xsi, this workflow is pretty much the same no matter what software you choose (I use 3dsmax as my main example software in this lesson, but all the theory applies to maya and every other 3d app and renderer out there).

Most of us when texturing are doing something similar to this workflow instinctively, but the nice thing about laying it all out is it may help you make more informed decisions on which techniques to use for what objects. There are many, many ways to go about texturing cg models, and rather than choosing one technique and trying to use it for every situation, there is value in using a number of different techniques, ones that are better suited for the specific situation. At many companies, they have decided to UV and then paint everything. Which is fine, but they're missing out on a lot of time saving methods like Blended Box Maps, Procedurals and Projections. This article hopes to show that there are lots of methods for shading, and using many instead of few has a lot of advantages.


Here are the basic steps of my shading / texturing workflow...
  1. Reference
  2. Visual Details List
  3. Splitting Details Into Shaders And Patterns
  4. Shaders
  5. Patterns
  6. Splitting Patterns Into General and Specific Patterns
  7. General Patterns
  8. Specific Patterns
  9. General Pattern Placement
  10. Specific Pattern Placement
  11. Pattern Storage And Texture Baking
  12. Pattern Creation
  13. Layering
  14. Light Rig
  15. Final Material
Now lets look at each stage one by one.

Go To Part 2...


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