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How To Create Custom CG Textures

How To Create Custom CG Textures

Here are 3 ways you can create your own CG textures!

Header Source: Quixel Community Gallery | "Dream Garden Shed" by Ewelina Lekka

We’ve talked about how great Quixel’s Megascans library can be for implementing high-quality, photorealistic CG textures into your scene. The robust Megascans library provides over 12,000 high-quality pre-made scans to give you unprecedented photorealism, with new assets being added all the time. 

In the video below, you can see the impressive level of work that Quixel puts into capturing all their scans.
While a library like Megascans will oftentimes be the fastest option for you, occasionally you might find yourself in need of a custom texture. Today we’re going to look at three options you have for creating custom CG textures on your own!  

Use Quixel’s Mixer

If the texture you are looking for isn’t immediately available on Megascans’ database, Quixel’s powerful app Mixer is a surefire way to create what you have in mind. You can import assets from the Megascans database, then shape and blend them as you see fit. You can even paint, mask, and sculpt the texture for instant results.

Use Substance Painter & Substance Designer

Adobe recently acquired Allegorithmic’s Substance texture authoring tools for adding textures to 3D models, and we discussed the value Substance brings to VFX last fall.

Substance Painter allows you to organically create textures with brushes, masks, and particles. It’s geared toward artists in game design, with live links to Unity and Unreal engines.
Substance Designer uses a non-destructive approach, utilizing procedural generation and scriptable texturing in a node-based environment. You can also bring in your own images to flesh out your texturing idea with the tools available within Designer.

Create Your Own Physical Textures from Scratch

Another route you could take for generating your custom textures is to do it all yourself. If you’re interested in experimenting to find unique aesthetics or have a certain material you need to simulate digitally, this is a great option.

Imagine a scenario where a specific building is filmed, featuring a unique aged brick pattern. The actors are shot on set in close proximity to the building, and at some point, you need to have a VFX-heavy shot of the building being destroyed. Having the textures of the exact building will be crucial to nailing the consistency of the structure when the VFX fireworks start.

Here’s one way you can capture those textures, along with an excellent breakdown of all the material parameters you need to consider when capturing your assets.
A great tip given in the video is that it’s best to shoot outdoor textures on a cloudy day where the lighting is evenly diffused across the surface of the texture. If it’s a brighter day and the objects you’re scanning are small enough to be carried, you could try scanning them under a canopy tent with a side wall to block out the sun.

If you have access to a studio or a controlled environment, you could also try bringing your objects in for scanning there. In the scenario of the building we mentioned a moment ago, you could even use a drone to capture the sides of the building that will be visible when the destruction occurs.

The secret to this DIY scanning technique is using Photoshop’s Photomerge function to stitch multiple photos together to generate an incredibly high-resolution texture.
You also see how easy it is to create multiple iterations of the texture with folders that correspond to material parameters, allowing you to optimize each version of the texture for a different parameter (like Diffuse, Bump, Specular, Displacement, et cetera).

The beauty of this method is it allows you to have complete control over totally custom assets you developed yourself. It may be a time-consuming process, but having the ability to control every facet of the unique scan can provide tremendous value when necessary.

You can even use a hybrid of these different methods to generate astounding photorealistic textures that are sure to blend seamlessly into your VFX scene. No matter your budget, you can have excellent photorealistic textures in your visual effects!

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