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Old 2017-03-11, 19:12   #1
Retired PR Developer

Ratface's Avatar
Lightbulb Creating Tank Tracks

Hello everyone! It's been a while since you've heard from me, but today I finally got off my arse to bring you a tutorial that's been requested of a few devs. How to create and quickly texture low poly tracks!

Special thanks to Zemciugas for the model being shown today, and to CTRifle for the current texture! The model of course being PRWW2's new version of the M4 Sherman, the M4A3.

However, what we're going to be focusing on today is how to create and texture the tracks for it so that we can use animated UVs on them. Eventually I will create a tutorial for how to export this beauty, but one step at a time!

To start, I want to share this tutorial that I used personally when working on my first tank. You'll see a lot of similarities between mine and this example, however I hope to add a few things that I learned along the way!

Original tutorial used by me: Bf2 Track Modeling

Now, without further ado, let's get started!

What we'll want to do first is have a nice side reference of our vehicle. From there, we'll go to the "Create" tab, click the "Shapes" button, select "Splines" from the drop-down menu, click the "Line" button, and set up our "Create Method" options as seen in the picture below.

From there, we will draw the spline around the middle of the thickness tracks in our reference. I could spend a while describing how to work with splines, but thanks to the internet there are plenty of tutorials out there for this already! I suggest you take a look at this one that I found. Follow these guidelines and trace around the middle of your track reference until you close off the UV and we'll continue to the next step.

Note that when placing your spline, a single click will place an anchor, while clicking and holding will create a curved "bezier" vertex. We can edit the curves of this vertex later on so if you don't get it perfect, no worries!


Here you can see what I've done once I've traced around the track:

At this point, let's go ahead and rename our spline. As the inventive person that I am, I'll go ahead and name it "track_spline".

What we need to do now is add in some extra verticies for our wheels. This is so that when we go to export our tank later on, the wheels can push and pull our track mesh when going over rough terrain as you'd expect them to. To do this, we'll select our spline, go into vertex mode, click the "Refine" button as seen in the picture below, and we will left click our spline roughly in the center of where each wheel will go. See the picture below for reference.

If you need to edit and of your Bezier points, you can do so by going into vertex mode, selecting a bezier vertex, and adjusting the lines shown in the following picture. Do this to get the cleanest edges you can for your spline!

Alright, so now what we need to do is create a spline that will give our track its thickness. For this, we'll head to the "Create" tab, click the "Shapes" button, select "Splines" from the drop-down, and click the "Rectangle" button. I'm doing this from the front viewport for now, and I'll go ahead and click and drag my spline to the approximate size of my track that I'm wanting. See image below.

Like-wise, I'm going to do the same thing so create one for the teeth on my track. Instead of using a rectangle, I'm going to go ahead and create a 3 pointed triangle with no bottom using the line tool. I made mine a little too small, so keep that in mind. I'll show you later how you can edit this. See below.

Alright! So we've gotten this far, let's do a quick checkpoint. In our scene we should have our track spline, our rectangle spline for our track's thickness, and our 3 pointed line spline for our teeth! Getting closer!

I think it's about time to finally make some mesh! Let's go ahead select our track spline, and go to the "Create" tab, click the "Geometry" button, select "Compound Objects" from the drop-down, and click the "Loft" button. We will then click the "Get Shape" button and select our rectangle. Below that button you should see some options; be sure to select "Instance". This will allow us to modify the shape spline (rectangle) and have it affect the mesh later on.

Note: What a loft will do is take a path and a shape to create mesh along the path, as we will soon see.

.....Did this happen to you? Fear not!

What we're going to do is add an "X-Form" modified to our rectangle spline. What this modifier does is it allows us to do things to the spline and have our changes affect anything instancing it. You'll notice that if you do the following steps without using the X-Form modifier they will have no effect.

With the X-Form modifier selected and the "Gizmo" option highlighted, I'm going to rotate my rectangle spline until my track mesh looks correct. You'll notice that because our Loft uses the rectangle spline as an instance, any changes we make will affect the mesh as well. For me, I only have to rotate the spline as seen in the picture to have the mesh line up as intended.



Now that we're facing the right way, let's take a look at some of the options we have for our loft object. You can see the defaults here:

Now for the best part of using splines and lofts! See the picture below. I'm going to first check the "Apply Mapping" and "Real-World" options, I'm going to uncheck "Cap Start" and "Cap End", I'm going to set "Shape Steps" to zero, and lastly I'll set "Path Steps" to whatever looks the best. In my case, I'll set it to 2.

What you should end up with is a sexy clean checkboard pattern on your mesh as seen below!

Now, let's start getting into the actual textures for this. I'm going to apply a "Unwrap UVW" modified to my mesh, and select the "Edit" button to view my UVW sheet.

You'll notice that thanks for the "Apply Mapping" and "Real-World" options in our loft, a ton of our work has been done for us!

What I'm going to do now is select the texture I'm going to use. Personally I'm choosing the tank_tracks_c file that you can find in the PR folder shown in the picture below. I'm going to assign this to a material, then drag the material onto my mesh.

What we'll want to do now is choose what texture we want to show up in your UVW edit view. You can do so by selected the drop-down showed below and choosing whatever texture you're planning to UV to.

In the image below, I'm highlighting where I'm planning to UV map my faces. There is an existing texture close enough to a Sherman's tracks that already exists thankfully. What I've done with my faces is I've selected all of them, rotated them the correct direction, and scaled them down to roughly the correct size. See below.

Now we're getting to the tricky parts. What I'm going to do is scale down my faces to match the height of the desired tracks. What you'll notice though is that they're trash! What I'm going to do first is click the "Options" button in my UVW view and uncheck "Use Custom Bitmap Size" to give a more clear visual in my UVW view. And, since the inner/outter tracks will be using similar textures, I'm going to go ahead and select half of my UVs, right click them and click "Break" to separate them from the other half of the mesh in terms of UVs. See below.

What I'll do now is select the half that I broke away and overlay them on top of the other half. They should line up perfectly. We're doing this because they'll be sharing the same textures. If they weren't we'd do this anyways but UV both sets of faces to whatever they should be going to. As a side note, I've also pushed some verts around so that they take up a little less space. See below for details.

Now, let's go ahead and stretch our UVs out until we get the right texture size for our tracks! What I'll do is select all of the faces in the UVW view and scale them, carefully watching my main viewport, until the size of the texture I'm working with is correct. Note that because the texture I'm using is not tilable that you'll see some other track textures here for the moment. Only pay attention to the ones you want in the end for now.

When I've gotten the right size, what I'm going to do is try to fit all these pieces into the UV space for the track texture I've selected. What I'll need to do is break up the mesh so that all the pieces can fit inside. The procedure I would use is to fit your largest faces into the area, select any that are outside, right click and break them, then repeat. I always line them up to the top of the texture. This part can be tricky because you'll want to make sure you avoid having any noticeable seams with your tracks! This may take a few tries to get right so be sure to save beforehand!

And finally, when this process is all done, this is what I end up with:

And voila! You now have your tracks! I also recommend taking out any unnecessary edges as well to keep things optimized the most. Just be sure not to remove any edges that will be pushed/pulled by your wheels further down the line.

Note: I know I didn't go into the teeth for this tutorial other than creating the spline for it, but you can follow the same exact steps we did for the main tracks to create the teeth. Depending on the size of your teeth you may need to edit the mesh to make sure the mesh fits into the tracks the right way!

I hope this tutorial has been useful! If anyone has feedback please let me know and I'll be sure to edit anything into the main post. Cheers!

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Old 2017-03-11, 19:12   #2
Retired PR Developer

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Default Re: Creating Tank Tracks


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Old 2017-03-11, 21:42   #3
PR:BF2 Developer
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Default Re: Creating Tank Tracks

Yeeee, time to start working on held tank projects

assetruler69: I've seen things you smurfs wouldn't believe. Apaches on the Kashan. I watched burned down tank hulls after the launch of the single TOW. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
Time to give up and respawn.
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Old 2017-03-11, 21:58   #4

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Default Re: Creating Tank Tracks

Glad to see someone make a tutorial for this, good work rat!

AfSoccer "I just don't see the natural talent."
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Old 2017-03-11, 22:08   #5
Retired PR Developer

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Default Re: Creating Tank Tracks

Thanks guys, appreciate it! I'm working on an export tutorial this week for tracked vehicles as well so expect it sometime this or next week

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Old 2017-03-12, 12:28   #6
PR:BF2 Developer

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Default Re: Creating Tank Tracks

Fantastic work man, I hope this tutorial will bring manny new tracked vehicles in game! (CV90 )


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creating, tank, tracks
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