30 October 2023

Course "Hand-Painted Stylized Texturing for Video Games"

I finished the Udemy course "Hand-Painted Stylized Texturing for Video Games" yesterday, and I really enjoyed it. It is a Spanish course of almost 25 hours that explains how to create artistic textures for our 3D models. It focuses on Blender, which I think is a good choice as it is a perfectly open source and free package capable of modeling anything we might need in an indie game.
It is based on the texturing of 6 projects: barrels, rocks, a grass tile, a rosette, a stone floor, and a fantasy character. In my opinion, the difficulty does not increase gradually, but rather each project teaches different techniques. The barrels and rocks projects serve as an introduction to the techniques that will be seen in the rest of the course. The grass, rosette, and floor projects have in common that they serve to explain how to prepare repeatable (tileable) textures. As for the texturing of the fantasy character, it is the most complex project, but it brings together almost all the techniques that have been seen in the rest of the course.

The texturing techniques that are covered are many. For painting, both direct painting on the model using Blender and unwrapping the texture and painting using Photoshop are explained. It also explains how to generate other maps, such as the Ambient Occlusion or the Normal map.

The course is well explained and the professor goes into detail when showing how to paint textures artistically using the different techniques. In fact, the pace of the course allows you to paint at the same time as the professor. In my case, since I was only interested in learning the concepts and techniques, but not practicing them, I chose to set the speed to 2x and watch the course during my elliptical bike sessions, and it was quite understandable. If you want to practice, you can set it to 1x and go painting, for which you will only need a mouse, although I suspect the more artistic sector of the audience will use a tablet (the professor does not explicitly say so, but I suspect he also used a tablet).

In the end, you are left with a fairly clear idea of how to texture 3D models and the work involved. It is clear that it is a job that requires a lot of merit, and the professor manages to convey it.

To put a negative point on the course, although I like that it is based on Blender, it often uses Photoshop and ZBrush, which, unlike the former, are not free or open source. I don't know about the case of ZBrush, but everything he does during the course with Photoshop could have been done with Gimp, which is free and open source. I think the reason he uses Blender is because he prefers open source software, so it would have been more consistent to use Gimp instead of Photoshop. In the case of ZBrush, I think the alternative would have been the same Blender, so I don't understand why he doesn't use it to create high-detail polygons, to then make the bakes, instead of using ZBrush. At the level he uses ZBrush, I think he could have used Blender perfectly and the course would have been better.

In any case, I am glad I took the course and I recommend it to anyone who wants to get started in the more artistic aspects of video game development. That said, I recommend you wait for it to go on sale on Udemy, for less than €20 (which happens often). Don't even think about buying it for the exorbitant price they sometimes put it at.