Modelling 103: Texturing for the 2D Challenged

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This page is a work-in-progress, written by an admitted 2D-art non-starter to try to help those with limited or no 2D art skills to create good-looking 3D models.


Welcome to Modelling 103: Texturing for the 2D Challenged. This page is aimed at those people who have a model that they want to texture, but don't feel confident enough at 2D art to create elaborately texture maps, or who, like me, simply don't have the talent.

This tutorial follows on from Modelling 102: From Cone to Cassowary, which you can find here.

You Will Need...


The 3D modelling package I will be using in this tutorial will be the freely-available and quite sterling Wings3D. You can find a (probably) up-to-date link for this software here.

You will require the services of a good 2D art program for this, or else I suspect you may not get very far. MS Paint is not even vaguely recommended for this. However, high-end, professional (and costly) software isn't required either. The package I use is called The GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), is free and has quite a number of nifty features that I've come to love in the course of building models. You should use whatever you feel comfortable with. However, this tutorial uses the GIMP for its examples, and your software may not have the same functions available.

Also needed are a model to be textured, some imagination and a sense of how you want the model to look, and some textures. For the purposes of this tutorial I'll be using the Cassowary model from the Modelling 101 section.

I would also recommend beverage-of-choice (coffee, tea, soda, water, whatever), and some inspiring music to take your mind off things, when you need it taken off them. You'll know when you need it, trust me, and you'll be grateful I warned you in advance.


To save typing things out, I'll be using the abbreviations LMB, MMB and RMB: these stand for Left Mouse Button, Middle Mouse Button and Right Mouse Button respectively.

Caveat Constructor

I should point out at this point that my work machine is a PC, not a Mac or UN*X/Linux box of any flavour, and I have a three-button mouse, which the Windows version of Wings3D is obviously designed to use. If you don't have a three-button mouse, you will need to check with the documentation that came with Wings3D to see what to do instead.

Finding Textures

The biggest and most obvious problem I had when I was starting out was finding textures to use. Small art samples weren't particularly high up on my list of Things To Download, and although there are quite a lot of 3D source sites out there - the vast majority of them run by absolutely sterling people and many of those for free - you can bet your bottom credit that they won't have quite the image you need. It's the way the world is, like shopping at a supermarket: fifty-nine brands of toilet roll, and no triple chocolate fudge ice-cream.

Don't worry about it. Just repeat after me: The Internet Is My Friend. Got that? Yes? Good. Try it again for good measure.

In all honesty, you can find almost all the textures you need online. For instance, typing "wood samples" into Google will give you a host of sites with images of woods with beautiful grains. If you need particular, solid colours, I find it a good idea to go out in search of fabric swatches, and I've built up quite a collection in many different hues and materials from scarlet silk to pink check gingham (no, really). I quite like the effect that the fabrics bring with them, because they're almost never 100% monotone: there's always a bit of nappe, or perhaps the sample didn't lie flat on the scanner, or there's a slight pattern to the cloth: it can have some very interesting, and occasionally unintended but welcome, effects.

Don't worry about textures for now, though: in true Home Economics style, all you need will be provided for. The images that you need will be available further down the page. Honest.

Getting Started

See also