Automatic UV unwrapping tool

Is anyone using any automatic UV unwrapping plugins for max that show good results? I’ve heard of things like Unwrella and unfold. Do they work well or is it best to manually unwrap your UV’s.

Anyone have any experience in this? If so what software are you using and how successful is that software.

Many thanks!

There is no tool that does a good job at unwrapping UV’s automatically, the UV software that you’ve heard about has helpful tools when doing your UV’s manually. A bunch of the Unfold3D tools and algorithms are integrated now with the Maya/3ds Max UV editors, the latest version of 3ds Max has a much improved UV editor with the new flattening and packing algorithms that give better results.

It is always better to do that manually but for simple objects, walls, floor, ceiling, tables, chairs, and about 90% of what you can find in an apartment, this script is enough :

So it’s true, there’s no amazing solution for the Unwrapping. For the main texture, but more specifically the lighting (since the automatic one from UE4 is bad) takes a dedicated hand.

That said - after doing this stuff for over a decade, including specifically for VR, I’ve found that 3D Coat offers a great set of tools that balance a bit of automatic unwrapping with easily modifying seams. I tend to export from 3ds Max to 3D Coat, do my UVs, the bring back to Max to finish them before sending out to UE4. It may seem like extra hurdles, but it’s been the most effective way to do a lot of UVs for Arch Viz in UE4 that retail technical and visual excellence.

To keep uv maps simple for the script, instead of putting a ton of geometry on the same uv map. I split the object in many parts and assign a uv map for each part. It’s much faster to build lighting with a ton of small res lightmaps than a couple of high res ones. It’s even more true when you use the Swarm agent for distributed rendering in ue4.

Of course it’s not a viable workflow for game dev but for arch-viz it’s fine imo.

The tool from epic is reasonable good but it relies on already existing uvs that it can work with. Lets say you have a small building where you box mapped channel 0. The epic tool will do a pretty good job for the lightmap.

If you want to do a quick lightmap in 3dsmax then flatten does usually give good results. Make sure the gaps are big enough between the charts. They need to be at least 1 pixel. For a 128 lightmap I use a 0.015 for the distance in 3dsmax (with rotation unticked). Does that make sense?

It depends on the object. Flatten works well for buildings. Top/bottom mapping works good for a terrain base. Organic stuff probably just needs a rearrangement of the first channel. There is no automatic tool that does everything for you but this might be a good start.

I will agree with this one. Most boxy shapes like walls, doors etc this script will work fine. If something does look bad afterwards open that mesh manually and have a play around with it.

UV-ing is necessary but a very particular type of work in 3D art. Like mentioned above ‘sort of’ setting up your models (meshes) to make UVing easier is the real key.

What I am about to say may get some 3D Atlas zealots wriggling in their seat but…keep your atlas textures to a bare minimum or do not use them at all. What I am saying…repeated…only use atlas textures where absolutely necessary.

Example: I will use 3DForge in the Unity Asset Store as an example. He makes really good 3D art for gaming. The meshes are clean and well positioned. The textures he decided to make an atlas so he could use the same texture on a lot of different meshes. The end result is quite good with a 4k texture being the atlas. Coupled with an excellent normal map and the meshes look really good in game.
Issue #1 with this method is…making texture changes for multiple options is a royal pain. You have to change only a portion of the texture and leave the rest. So what ends up happening is layering textures in the shader with transparency over the base texture. You need slots for each part you are going to change…so where are the savings in making the atlas in the first place? Basically for those who will have no options.
Issue #2 with this method is…parts of a mesh end up using the same UV on multiple sides of a mesh. This makes it difficult to ‘see’ what is going on with the UV when getting seams or other artifacts that need minor tweaks.

So the Modelling 101 is to make 1 texture with 1 UV per mesh. If an item like a sword or gun as examples have a couple parts to them…keep the number of meshes below 5 and make an atlas for them. This makes it 1 draw call for the mesh as it should be. Use this when making your meshes and the UVing becomes very simple and 99% automated.

Here are two tools that I highly recommend for really good automatic UV Unwrapping. There are a number of programs that have UV Unwrapping Algorithms but these seem to be more general purpose for very simple meshes.
*Blender does an OK job at UV Unwrapping in the latest versions. still needs pulling around to get them easier to match the textures.
*MayaLT does no better than Blender
*Lightwave has a UV Plugin that does no better than Blender.

Both of these below are also WYSIWYG.

Ultimate Unwrap 3D - $60

This one also makes UVing really easy. The results are very good even on complicated meshes…especially if using simplified meshes as stated above.

Headus UV Layout - $200

This one makes UVing actually fun. It is UVing the easy way. Almost fully automatic and making adjustments is just simple. This one does more complicated meshes with A LOT less work.
*Get the Hobbyist version


  • Simplify the meshes
  • Use a tool dedicated to making UVs to save yourself a lot of headaches


yea, everyday objects are relatively simple. It’s not like you have to unwrap a spaceship on 1 uv channel and use 1 texture for the whole thing. A chair is usually 1 or 2 materials, a wall is 1 material, etc. For architecture it’s easy to split objects.