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I've been learning Blender and have made some decent progress. I've made some neat models, but so far, they haven't been textured. I understand how to unwrap a model so as to get the UV coordinates, but how do I actually create a texture to fit this coordinates? I've looked around and so far, it seems like a lot of people spend time hand-painting their models. Then I look at games like Counterstrike: Source, Call of Duty, etc., and I'm wondering how their models look photorealistic. It's all a bit of a mystery to me, but I'm hoping somebody could clarify. So, how exactly are photorealistic models created?

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possible duplicate of Most common way to obtain textures for 3D models? – bummzack Jan 7 '12 at 22:59
Ah, thanks, that answer didn't come up in my search. Very helpful! – Elliot Bonneville Jan 9 '12 at 15:24
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I can picture three common routes for creating a photo-realistic texture. Either:

  1. You're a talented artist who can paint photo-realism and has no problem making it from scratch.

  2. You use a camera to take a photo of a surface that looks similar to what you need.

  3. You have enough artistic skills to start from a photo and modify it.

But that's concerning textures only.

As for the factors that contribute most to the overall photo-realistic look of a scene - besides having great assets - I'd boil it down to lighting and detail (links for reference, not as definition, but worth reading).

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For skin specifically, you can increase realism by using appropriate shaders. Like described here: – Tetrad Jan 7 '12 at 20:03
Indeed. Which is just one of the many domains of lighting. More specifically, subsurface scattering is usually used to approximate the way light interacts with translucent surfaces, such as our skin. – David Gouveia Jan 7 '12 at 20:17
This is pretty much what I was looking for. Thanks for the info! I'm neither talented nor do I have any talented artists at my disposal, so I think my only option is #3. This is a bit of a tangent, but do you know of any good sites to find existing textures to modify? – Elliot Bonneville Jan 9 '12 at 15:20

textures are just a layer drawn on top of the object. which is technically called texture map. most games usually use other maps such as normal map, bump map, reflection map, ... which makes objects rendering more realistic. and there are some applications like ZBrush which allow user to paint over 3D objects instead of working on a 2D texture.

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I understand this, thanks for the info though. :) I was looking more for what @David provided. – Elliot Bonneville Jan 9 '12 at 15:19

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