What is the Unwrapped UVs attribute on a 3D model?

Mapping coordinates, or mapping, refers to the way textures are oriented on a 3D model. The Unwrapped UVs attribute explains these characteristics about the mapping for a 3D model:

  • Whether the mapping has been unwrapped
  • Whether the UVs are overlapping or non-overlapping

If the mapping on your 3D model has these characteristics, you can set the Unwrapped UVs attribute to Yes for that model.

About Mapping

There are two fields in the model specification section: UV Mapped and Unwrapped UVs. UV Mapped indicates that some kind of UV mapping is associated with the model.  If you apply a texture to the model it will render without an error. Unwrapped UVs indicates that a more complex type of mapping has been applied.

A model’s mapping coordinates can be set up in a number of ways:

  • Simple, automatic mapping coordinates such as planar, cylindrical, or box mapping.
  • Unwrapped mapping coordinates, where the coordinates are laid flat to fit a number of maps (textures), and UVs do overlap.
  • Unwrapped mapping coordinates, where the coordinates are laid flat to fit a number of maps (textures), and UVs do not overlap.
  • Unwrapped mapping coordinates, where the entire object is mapped with a single texture, and UVs do not overlap.

If your 3D model is mapped with one of the last two methods described above, then the model fits the criteria for a “Yes” on the Unwrapped UVs attribute.

If some objects in your product have Unwrapped UVs and other objects have simple UVs, or no UVs at all then the model fits the critieria for “mixed”.

Because the UV Mapped and Unwrapped UVs attributes are relatively new many of the 3d models online at TurboSquid have no value set for these. When there is no value, the attribute will appear as “Unknown” on the full preview.  This is neither a positive or a negative value, simply a statement that this new value is not known for that particular 3D model.

If the model has Unwrapped UVs you can include a thumbnail image of the unwrapped UVs to show the customer exactly how the UVs are laid out.  You can also include a thumbnail image with a checker map applied which will show the distribution of the texture coordinates and whether there are stretched UVs.

Why did you add this attribute?

As we’ve learned internally over the last 10 years, how models are mapped is particularly fraught with complexity and is sometimes used as a reason for a customer return. Simply put, we want to eliminate that from happening as much as possible.

Specifically, customers want to know whether they can apply different textures effectively, and also whether they can pass the model into a product like Mudbox, Z-Brush, or even Photoshop Extended with confidence. We’ve learned that having no UVs, or having overlaps in UVs, are big no-nos especially for workflows involving Mudbox. We did some random tests on various models in our library and we found that most models do not fit this criteria.

Having simple (not unwrapped) mapping on a 3D model, or having overlapping UVs, is not necessarily going to cause problems for every customer. However, some customers definitely want to know whether the model has Unwrapped UV mapping before they purchase the product.

Production artists often take shortcuts when modeling just to get the job done. But when it comes to stock 3D models for sale, we need to ensure that a customer can’t use the excuse that “there is no/poor UV Mapping on this model and it’ll take me forever to fix it” to try and get a return. If they want something that is renderable as-is and don’t need changes, this field will have little impact on them. On the other hand, if a customer sees a model they like but know they need to do some customizations to it before they can use it in their project, the Unwrapped UV attribute is designed to help them understand that this part of the model construction has been handled in a way that makes their lives easier.