I know that they take pictures of what they want to be a texture, or they get it off the internet, but I wanna ask, is that all they do?

because for some games from 2012 and before in games like call of duty, they have these textures for faces and shoes sole, and I'm just wondering how they make them.

Are they painted somehow? How do you guys go about texturing things?

  • 2
    Painted, sculpted, generated, mixed, layered, scanned, photographed, simulated, constructed. Thats about it.
    – joojaa
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 18:00

2 Answers 2


Option 1: Take a photo

is that all they do?

Well, this is simplistic. Taking a picture is not point-and-shoot. The lighting should be right, probably you do not want shadows, or probably you want them. So there could be controlled lighting.

But you can also extract 3D information from the photoshoot, for example, different lighting setup for a normal map.

Another additional process would be converting it to a seamless texture, so, it is not "only" taking a photo.

Option 2: Paint it

2D paint is a beautiful craft, it can be done, for example for backgrounds, the same way matt painting is done for a movie.

Option 3: Generate it

A lot of textures can be procedurally generated. Noise, strings, gradients, another type of noise. Add some blending modes, add more procedural nodes, and you have them.

Some programs to do this are built inside the 3d program like in Blender or can be standalone. Substance painter, Filter forge, Genetica, etc.

A texture is not just a texture, but a series of them. Diffuse map, bump map, normal map, specular map... Depending on the software you get just the diffuse map or you generate some more of them as different files.

Option 4: Draw it

Some textures are really simple. A rectangle with color can be a diffuse map and a grayscale one can be a bump map. This type of texture can be done for mechanical parts. One canal here, some bolts there.

Option 5: Cook it

Sometimes you generate a 3D model, and extract a map from the generated render and use it as a new 2D texture, mostly done to accelerate render times.

Option 6: Sculpt it

In sculpting tools, you can sculpt details, and in a similar way to the previous one, extract the rendered information to generate a displacement map to generate a new texture.

Option 7: 3D paint it

It is like using an airbrush on a 3d model. Normally is for general gradients.

Option 8: Combine them

You can make use of whatever resources you have. A texture can be applied in a different way than the first plan.

Here is a little tutorial I did some time ago, using just 1 texture and transforming it into rust, scratched paint, and dust.

Overlay to make image look dusty with fragmented text

The concept of paint it also includes this. The usage of a brush is using a texture to generate more texture.

Option 9: Use pre-made materials

You can buy photos, not necessarily taken by you.

You can use materials already made by someone else, using prepared maps.

You can use a library specifically made for your 3D application. Some software has an active community that makes libraries and shares them.

Option 10: Extract them

For example, Photogrammetry can be used to generate 3D models using photography. The generated model includes the texture.

  • what way would you say would be the go to for making semi-realistic looking, or kind of like this. imgur.com/a/EbjNbbp. and do you have a certain workflow that you use? Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 18:57
  • 3, 4 and 9. But depends on the application you have.
    – Rafael
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 23:06
  • i have blender, and substance painter. i never knew you could generate textures in blender, so im gonna see how to do that Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 23:43

When you're building a model, you can export a template for your textures. This template shows you how your 2D image will correlate into 3D space, so that you can use any image editing software to create the desired texture.

Using Photoshop, you can paint a face right onto the template for your model's head. You could also take a few photos of someone's face and stitch them together to get a more realistic looking face, or sample skin textures, eyes, hair, etc. from photos as desired to build your own. Here's an example of what the image file might look like:

enter image description here

Painting a face from scratch was pretty common for older games, and is still quite common today for certain aesthetics (i.e. low poly anime looks).

Some modern 3D software also allows you to paint directly onto the model.

  • 1
    Almost all DCC applications nowdays allow you to paint onntye model directly.
    – joojaa
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 17:59

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