Photogrammetry for props: Auto vs manual UV unwrapping?

Hello everyone! Is it okay to let RealityCapture or ZBrush do the automatic unwrapping for photoscanned props, or should I do it manually?

Since the props will have baked textures, my logic is that manually unwrapping is unnecessary. And that auto unwrap will even do a better job than me. But since I’m a beginner at creating props and 3D modelling/asset creation in general, I would like an expert’s opinion.

This is a giant rabbit hole.

There’s 3 main approaches to texturing. Tiling textures, trim textures, and unique textures. There’s only a limit pool of vram for storing textures and modifying a many textures takes a lot of time, so generally games try to reuse as much as possible. It makes iteration and managing textures much easier. Virtual textures does “solve” the limit amount of vram storage for textures, but it isn’t always seamless.

Also generally uniquely unwrapped textures are not efficient for having a high resolution textures for AAA games, you wont notice tiling and repetition of textures with just a minimal amount of break up from vertex painting or world position masks.

Buildings are almost always going to be made up of tiling textures and trim sheets. For iteration, resolution, and reuse reasons. Also they are lower priority than characters so they need to use less resources. If you’re photoscaning for buildings, you’ll probably want to basically just use it as reference and remake everything for modularity and optimization.

For hero assets, unique textures are common even for props, like weapons or items the player can pickup. You could use automatic wrapping, but the biggest concerns are advanced materials, lightmaps, and textures might have obvious issues at UV seams. Doing it by hand lets you place seams in less obvious and more natural areas. And lower number of seams and smart packing could give you more effective resolution. Sometimes it’s worth the effort, sometimes it isn’t.

Thank you for the comprehensive response! So basically if I’m photoscanning, I could do it automatically, see the results, and if they’re not satisfactory, I do it manually? It’s not mandatory to do it manually in order to sell on the Marketplace?

I’m planning on releasing a prop pack of firewood. I’m good at photogrammetry, but everything from decimating the high poly mesh to final “delivery” in Unreal, I’m a beginner at. So I’m doing this sort of for practice, so that I can eventually move my way to more complex models.

I manually unwrapped, but you can see on the transition between bark and actual wood, the texture is pretty stretched/blurry. That’s where I got the idea to let it automatically unwrap. The problem is that I don’t know what’s the standard on the Marketplace, I want to make everything right for the buyers.

If photogrammetry is up front in the name or description, it should be fine, quixel assets are often just automatic UVs.

1 Like