Section Six - Traditional Mapping Tools

Most of the tools we've looked at so far work well for very low-polygon meshes, or meshes with relatively flat surfaces. In this section we'll look at using some of Max's traditional tools for mapping more complicated shapes. If you're going to be mapping a character, for instance, you'll find yourself using this technique more than any other.
I've reached a point where I've got a lot of polygons surrounding the main body of the ship that planar mapping just isn't ideal for. A cylindrical map would be best.

At this point I applied a "Mesh Select" modifier, and selected all of the faces that fell roughly in a cylindrical shape around the body of the ship. (Selecting the faces in the Unwrap UVW modifier, unfortunately, doesn't work.)

Note that at this point instead of adding a mesh select modifier, you could also collapse the modifier stack and select faces at the polygon sub-object level.
When I finished selecting faces I added a "UVW Mapping" modifier. (Different from the Unwrap UVW modifier!) I changed the mapping to "Cylindrical" and hit "Fit". This fit the shape of the cylindrical mapping gizmo snugly around the faces I had selected. In practice, you will need to change the alignment of the gizmo if your polygons aren't lined up along the Z axis.
At this point we have two choices. If there are other sections of the mesh that need special mapping (cylindrical, spherical, etc), we could add another mesh select modifier, pick the faces we want, and add another UVW Mapping modifier on top of that. However, for our space ship mesh there are only a couple simple bits to clean up, so let's get back to our Unwrap UVW mode.
Before we can add the Unwrap UVW modifier, we need to make sure we have the correct polygons selected. (Right now only the polygons we cylindrically mapped are selected.) So add another "Mesh Select" modifier and select all the faces, then add the Unwrap UVW modifier on top of that.
Once again, the mapping coordinates aren't quite ideal, so I scaled and moved them so that they don't overlap. It would also be nice to break this large chunk up a bit. To do this, I selected the faces that I wanted to become a separate element, then clicked on Tools->Break (Ctrl-B). Now I can move those faces off to the side without also stretching the adjacent faces.

Next: Finishing Touches

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