Jul 30, 2018

Blender – How to Add a Texture – Simply Explained

Want your Blender models to look different than the default gray? Then you're going to need to use some textures. Read through our step-by-step tutorial to get a grasp on textures and the UV editor, then use what you've learned on your own objects to make them look real!

Blender – How to Add a Texture What's a Texture and Creating One

The textures tab is located on the far right. Source: Amir Bohlooli / All3DP

Textures are the way the surfaces of your meshes appear, representing the look and material of an object. Creating a texture is quite easy but fitting it properly and choosing the best settings can be tricky.

In this tutorial, we’ll texture a cube, but the steps are generalized to any 3D object.

The first steps are to create a texture, which we do prior to adding it to an object:

  1. Open the textures tab, located on the far right of the properties panel. 
  2. The “Material Texture” tab should be opened by default. Click the “+ New” button to create a new texture. 

Now you have a new texture named “Texture”, which you can rename by simply typing a new name in the text box.

Blender – How to Add a Texture Setting Up the Texture

The texture name, type, and coordinate system. Source: Amir Bohlooli / All3DP

To get started with your texture, there are two parameters to keep in mind: texture type and coordinate type

There are 15 texture types in Blender. Most of them are for shaping your texture in Blender itself, but in this tutorial, we’re going to import an image.  

The coordinate type determines how your object will wear the texture, with respect to edges, orientation, etc. While there are 10 coordinate types, setting the coordination to UV will allow you to work with the texture in the UV editor.

UV mapping is the process of projecting a 2D image onto a 3D object, where U and V are the axes of the image and X, Y, and Z are the axes of the object.

Here’s how to set up your texture:

  1. Click on the dropdown list labeled “Type” and then choose “Image or Movie”. 
  2. In the mapping section, set the coordination to “UV”, the projection should be “Flat”. 

Blender – How to Add a Texture Loading the Texture Image

Click on "Open" to load your texture image. Source: Amir Bohlooli / All3DP

To texture the mesh properly, we’ll have to unfold it and give it a texture to wear. This means that your texture image isn’t going to be a square but rather 6 of them, which are oriented in such a way that folding them produces a cube.

For this tutorial, you can use this texture. I’ve numbered the squares so that the sides can easily be distinguished in the final 3D model.

The following two steps load the image:

  1. In the “Image” section, click on “Open”.
  2. Choose your image file and double-click on it. 

Blender – How to Add a Texture Unwrapping the Cube

Choose the same edges on the opposite side, and the top edge from the between side. Source: Amir Bohlooli / All3DP

In order to unwrap (Blender’s way of unfolding) your cube, you have to mark the seams yourself. The seams are guidelines that Blender will follow to unwrap the mesh. 

You can mark the seams in the following way:

  1. Choose “Editing Mode” from the interaction mode list. The dropdown list is in the bar under the 3D model. Change it from “Object Mode” to “Edit Mode”. 
  2. Hover over your cube and then press Alt + Tab. Choose “Edge” from the list. 
  3. Right click on the edges to mark them, hold shift so that the selections stack up. 
  4. Select the left, right and top edges of one side, then do the same on the opposite side. Finally, select the top edge of the connecting side between them. 
  5. Press Shift + E and then select “Mark Seams”. 

If you unselect the cube you should be able to see your seams in red lines. Keep in mind that there are 11 ways of unfolding a cube, and this is the best-known one. You just need to match the texture with your unwrapped cube.

Blender – How to Add a Texture Loading the Texture

Use the three transform tools to adjust your texture. Source: Amir Bohlooli / All3DP

Once unwrapped by the seams, the cube is ready for texturing. As the final steps, you’ll need to load the texture into the UV Editor and adjust it.  

  1. While still in Edit mode, select your object. (If it’s the only object, you can press A).  
  2. Press U and then choose “Unwrap”.  

Here’s how to see the unwrapped cube and fit your texture: 

  1. Open the UV (image) editor. This can be done by either changing the screen layout from “Default” to “UV Editing”, or adding an editor and changing its type to “UV/Image Editor”. 
  2. In the bar beneath the UV editor, click on the image icon next to the “New/Open” buttons and choose the texture image. 
  3. Adjust the UV mapping to fit the texture. You can use R (rotate), G (translate) and S (scale) on your keyboard to transform it. Combine these with X, Y, Z on your keyboard to move them on a single axis. You can also use the coordinates in the “UV Vertex” tab to move around with more precision.

Blender – How to Add a Texture Viewing the Result

The textured floating cube. Source: Amir Bohlooli / All3DP

You might notice that your texture is not yet visible on the cube. That’s because the “Display Method” is set to “Solid”, meaning the 3D Viewer will ignore textures, lighting, etc. To view your final object, you’ll have to render it.  

  • Move around the camera and the lamp to get a better view. The default view should suffice too. 
  • Press F12!

And there you have it! The same floating cube but this time with a texture. You can also view your texture in the 3D Viewer: 

  1. Under the 3D Viewer, on the right side of the “Object Interaction Mode”, click on the white sphere and select “Textures”. 
  2. If you want the lighting and the graphics to be applied, too, you can select “Rendered” in the list. This will give you real-time renders in the 3D Viewer. You may need a good CPU for it to work decently. 

That’s it! You now know how to texture a cube. The steps are the same for other meshes too: Mark the seam lines, unwrap the mesh and load a suitable texture image. The key is to choose the seams since the mesh will unwrap the way you tell it to and once it does you need to have a fitting texture image to use.

Happy texturing!

License: The text of "Blender – How to Add a Texture – Simply Explained" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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