If you`re new to 3D design (very important to create a 3D configurator), you`ve probably heard some terms that you may not fully understand. This article will clarify some of the basic concepts in the world of 3D. The focus here is more on the process of 3D texturing.

The following video will teach you the basics of 3D texturing with Maya.

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Important terms from the field of 3D texturing that you should be familiar with:

Texture Mapping.

In order to create surfaces that are as realistic as possible, you should be more familiar with texture mapping. In 3D mapping, graphics are added to a polygon object. These graphics can basically be anything from photographs to original designs. With textures you can make your objects look worn and used. On this basis you can achieve a higher degree of realism in your work.


A shader describes all the material on an object, how the light is reflected and absorbed, and bump maps, which you will learn about later in this article. In practice, shaders and textures are often confused. However, a texture is something that is associated with a shader to give the 3D object a special look.

UV Mapping.

A 3D object has many sides and a computer is not able to correctly apply a 2D texture to a 3D object. A UV map is basically the 3D model that is stretched out into a flat 2D image. Each surface on a polygon object is connected to a surface on the UV map. Placing a 2D texture on this new 2D representation of your 3D object is now much easier.


Specularity defines how a surface reflects light. Basically it is the reflection of the light source by the texture and creates a shiny look. The right specularity is important to define the material of the 3D object. Glossy metal, for example, has a high reflectivity, while a flat texture such as cement has none.


A normal is an invisible line that points directly out of a polygonal surface a NURBS patch. These standards help the 3D application to determine which side of a surface is the front and which is the back. The correct orientation of the standards is of great importance, especially when rendering, since a render engine cannot represent  a backward oriented standard in most cases.

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Bump Maps.

A bump map gives the illusion of depth or detachment on a texture without greatly increasing the render time. This allows the raised area on a penny to be manipulated using a bump map. The computer determines which areas on the image need to be increased by reading the black-and-white and grayscale data on the graphic.

Transparency Map.

Transparency Maps are grayscale textures that use black and white values to identify areas of transparency or opacity on a object material. For example, when modeling a fence, you could use a black-and-white texture to determine which areas should remain opaque and what should be transparent, rather than modeling every single link in the fence, which would take up a lot of time.

Normal Maps.

A normal map creates the illusion of detail without having to rely on a high polynomial number. For example, a character in a scultping program like ZBrush can be detailed and all information can be stored on a normal map and transferred to a low poly-character so that the illusion of detail is created without having to increase the actual polarity of the model. Game Studios often use normal maps because they have to stay within a tight polygon budget, but still need a high level of detail.

Normal Maps vs. Bump Maps.

Normal and Bump Maps are similar because they affect both the normal of their geometry and create the illusion of detail without having to rely on additional geometry. The big difference is that bump maps only encode height information with black and white values, while normal maps use RGB values to determine the orientation of the surface normals. The information in the red, green, and blue channels of the Normal Map corresponds to the X, Y und Z orientation of the surface. Normal maps can usually bring more detailed information to the surface.


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In a typical 3D scene, you should shade texture and light objects to create exactly the look you want to render. To shorten render times, you can beacon all materials, textures, and lighting information into one image file. For example, you could bake alle lighting information directly onto an existing texture, render it, and then delete the lights actually used in the scene. This is very advantageous for games because a light would have to be recalculated in each new frame.

This will familiarize you with the basic concepts of 3D texturing. In further contributions you can now deepen your acquired knowledge. After clicking on the following link, you will find everything you need to know about “Texture Mapping“.