UVs vs. PTEX

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  10 October 2012
UVs vs. PTEX

Hello all,

In the last couple months I've been trying to step up my texturing skills, specifically for the purpose of adding wear and tear as well as other assorted signs of aging onto my models, primarily through the use of adding photographed textures.

One of the best examples of such work can be found here:

Since I've had quite a bit of difficultly adding said photographed textures directly in bodypaint, I've started to investigate unwrapping & texturing the UVs within PS, and am finding it a bit time consuming and not as straightforward as I would have hoped.

Throughout this experience I've learned a bit about Mari and its use of PTEX, a combo that seems to be very suited towards a "What you see is what you get" working style. It also appears as if the industry is leaning towards PTEX for future use.

That being said, I'm curious to know what others with more experience in the matter think about this. I'd rather not spend a significant amount of time learning a UV workflow only to have that become antiquated in just a short time. I'd also prefer not to spend $2K+ on a program just so I can more easily add photographic texturing to my models.

In the end, I know it's my decision - so I'm not asking "Tell me what to do!" - i'm just curious to hear what those with more experience have to say on the issue.

  10 October 2012
I've no experience with Ptex or Mari, but just to say, my favorite texturing application these days is ZBrush.
With polypaint in ZBrush you can paint directly on a model even before UV mapping it, then later on you can add the UVs and bake the polypaint down to a map for rendering in Cinema or other applications. The spotlight tool in Zbrush allows you to paint on your models with photographs and textures and is easy to use and very powerful.
When you consider how much ZBrush costs compared to Mari I think it's well worth checking out, of course it won't have the same level of power and you wouldn't use it for projection mapping and that kind of thing, but for texturing regular models I think it's a fantastic tool. It offers a more fluid painting experience than Bodypaint in my opinion and has symmetry, curve/line tools etc.

[Edit - here's a video showing the basics of Spotlight, just an awesome tool IMO.


Last edited by Horganovski : 10 October 2012 at 05:52 PM.
  10 October 2012
Keep in mind Ptex is still relatively new and has some drawbacks which can make it difficult to work with - over time these will likely get sorted out, but at the moment...

Topology changes to an existing ptex model are difficult to deal with. Making topology changes to your model will break the ptex map. You'll need to transfer your paint to the new model via reprojection, baking points clouds or any other similar transfer technique - texture transfers generally result in a quality loss.

It's difficult to paint/edit in 2d. Some operations are just much easier to do in Photoshop or Nuke. I have seen some in-house solutions that allow you to flatten sections in a ptex model so you can paint in 2d, but I'm not aware of any off-the-shelf product which does so.

UVs also occasionally come in handy when doing stuff like deformations, fur, shading and compositing.
  10 October 2012
i think, ptex is a good step in the right direction, but for now, its just to "young" and not production proven enough. right, there are a few big shows that are using ptex, but keep in mind that they have a big TD/Pipeline-Team to get all the tools they need. will take time till it will be more used then uvs
the biggest drawback (and also the biggest benefit) are the missing uvs, its fine for the initial painting progress, but that means also that every tweak has to be done in a software lika mari in 3d. a quick fix in photoshop or painting a specular map is not really possible in 2d. and when you are working in a smaller company, they will probably only have a few mari licenses...
now with a blog a free downloads

  10 October 2012
neil is giving a good overview here...

ptex support in the render engines isnt there where it should be... except renderman...
if you dont need displacements and a huge texture resolution i would go with uvs...

Last edited by oglu : 10 October 2012 at 09:41 AM.
  10 October 2012
With the current workflow limitations, Ptex is great for static non deforming objects which have been fully approved. Usually props and sets.
It will get better though.
  10 October 2012
Thank you everyone for the feedback; it definitely seems as if the better route would be getting a good UV paint/texture app. I'd been looking at Zbrush in the last couple weeks as I needed a way to paint displacement onto my models, and after watching the video Horganovski's provided that discussed their UV tools - this definitely seems to be the right app for what I need.

Unfortunately, I can't find a demo or trial version; do they not have one or am I just overlooking it?
  10 October 2012
If you want to be a texture artist, learn the uv workflow. There will always be a place for UVs, because there are some occasions where painting in 2d works better than 3d. Ptex and UVs are also not always mutually exclusive, just because you used Ptex for one thing doesn't mean you don't want to use UVs for another. There are also more advanced topics in 3d that need UVs, like tangent vectors. UVs are not going to be obsolete anytime soon, especially when Ptex is still very new and still has some problems with it.

I imagine more programs will eventually have Ptex support, so mari will not be the only Ptex program. Mari is also very robust for UV workflow, it is not strictly a Ptex program. As someone still in the learning stages, I don't think you have a pressing need to learn mari and you shouldn't be shelling out thousands of dollars for it. If you know Photoshop you can certainly pick up mari quickly at the workplace when you need to know it.
  10 October 2012
Originally Posted by colesslaw: ..so mari will not be the only Ptex program.

Mari isnt the only program working with Ptex.
3DCoat and Mudbox are also able to create, bake and paint Ptex.
  10 October 2012
I know CgTalk is oriented toward film but keep in mind the videogames market. UV's are essential for videogames. As of this moment you can't do without them. Besides. As a modeler/texture artist I believe it's essential to have good knowledge of properly unwrapping models. Having a good understanding of UV's and how they are laid out can solve a lot of modeling and texturing problems.
David J. Saiz

My Blog
My reel
  10 October 2012
Also, VRay in Max and Maya can render Ptex files.
Personal: www.japetusproductions.com
Work:Straightface Studios

  10 October 2012
Even in film work PTex is far from completely replacing UVs even on the more pioneering projects.

It seems people have this perception of PTex being some magic bullet that allows you to forget about space mapping a hull and a 2D cartesian system (a mesh and an image), but it's not. PTex is simply a smarter and more transparent way to store pixel location AND deal with discreet elements and variable resolution that has some boundary management built in.

If you forget about variable resolution and boundary management, it's no more no less the equivalent of having an automatic UV unwrap distributing your polygons in surface order, with smart packing, and edges pixel aligned.
The result of that, much like in PTex, is a jumble of pixels that outside of a 3D package like Mari, ZB, MB, 3D-C is absolutely unreadable, and much like that it's also topology dependent.

If you, for whatever reason, need to treat images outside of a 3D environment, PTex is useless, or at the very least needs to be baked to a readable set of coordinates, aka a UV unwrap with some continuity.
If you need to change topology, same thing. If you need to transfer between objects or do object to object look-ups, same thing.

PTex is a great starting and/or finishing point when you have a 3DPaint process and the rendering support for the added benefits. At any other time, UVs are still necessary, and without the multi-res and boundary management automated UVs supported by a 3D paint package are just as good.

So, in short: UVs are not dead and not likely to be so for a while longer even in the most optimistic scenarios, so do learn how they work and how to create sets that work for the purpose at hand.
Come, Join the Cult http://www.cultofrig.com - Rigging from First Principles
  10 October 2012
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: So, in short: UVs are not dead and not likely to be so for a while longer even in the most optimistic scenarios, so do learn how they work and how to create sets that work for the purpose at hand.

Very nice write-up/review. Thank you. That was exactly the sort of information that I was trying to find out.
  12 December 2012
Originally Posted by oglu: Mari isnt the only program working with Ptex.
3DCoat and Mudbox are also able to create, bake and paint Ptex.

3D-Coat was actually the first commercial program to have Ptex support. What's great about the 3DC implementation is that you can save out the model and save the Ptex as a UV map so that it will render on anything theat supports UVs.
~~Phil Nolan
3D Modeler & Texture Artist
Sculpt first, Polygons later

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