I’ve been following various threads regarding UV mapping complex objects – here’s how I do it!
We are going to map the monkey mesh since everyone has it. I’m going to assume we want a symetrical mapping so I deleted half of the mesh. I then assigned different materials to areas of the mesh. In selecting these areas I made sure I could display the areas in the edit window with no faces hidden from some view.
Set up your windows so that you have both the UV Image editor and 3d view open. Align one of your material areas in the 3d view so that all faces are visible.
Enter UV face select mode and tab to edit mode. Make sure no verticies are selected and then select the verticies of the material with the select button show below. Press “U” in the 3d window and use the from window option.
I then move the just mapped verticies off of the light grey area so that mapping the next area won’t overlap this one.
I quite often adjust the vetrtices in the UV window as I go along (see below). Note: I use box selection for the verts to make sure I move both verts together. Save often as there is no undo in the UV editor.
Map all your material areas and move them off of the light grey area. Don’t panic when the already mapped verts disappear from the UV editor when you select a new material area – only the currtently selected faces are displayed in the uv editor. If you select all faces in the 3d window they will re-appear. The image below shows all the areas mapped.
I then used the “stitch” command in the UV editor to join the red, green, yellow and magenta areas shown above. Just select only the verts in the read areas for example and stitch, the correct verts will be joined automatically. Below you can see the results of stitching the red highlighted area
Don’t forget to move and rotate the individual areas before stitching so that they are close to each other and the verts line up as best as possible. Below is the result after I finished stitching and placed the mapped areas back on the light grey area. You can scale/rotate the various areas to make them fit well
Once you have the mapping done as above make sure to save your work. Delete all the materials you created for the different areas (the delete button is close to the select button you used earlier). Create a new material for your UVmap and add an image texture to it (Some sort of grid/test texture). Load the same image into the UV editor (make sure your in face select mode first). Make sure “texface” is pressed and you are in potato mode. Your screen should look something like below
You can now make final adjustments to your mapping in the UV editor and see the result update in the 3d window. Once you are happy with the mapping you can do a “File->Export->UV Face Layout” and take the result to your favourate paint program.
The result of my mapping (total time to map approx. 15 min.)
If you didn’t understand part of the process just ask and I try to update the tutorial