I was wondering how the lava in the UE4 Elemental Demo was achieved, so I opened it up to check. What I noticed was that the UVs of all the lava meshes (Lava River Mesh) were very unique (Lava River UVs), at least to me. Personally I’ve never seen an unwrap like this. I understand why unwrapping a lava river mesh like this creates flowing motion when panning a texture across, but an unwrap like that by hand would take me days.
Can someone shed some light on how to achieve this? I’d have no other approach than to unwrap it by hand, which would be extremely time-consuming compared to the actual shader work that I’d have to put in for the lava. Maybe there is a certain technique or unwrapping software which does this easily? If so, I’d be thankful for any pointers.
As above would also make a low poly mesh first, fix the UVs and then distort, smooth etc. Refine everything and perhaps add vertex colors. Pin edges and go in with smooth selected and create wavy forms on UVs.
And there are some UV unwrapping tools that can help your UVs straight like they are in the picture even if you have loads of verts/UVs already. For example Nightshade’s straighten loop ring combined with pinning UVs.
This already works quite well with my first attempt in 3dsMax just with some soft selection. Given some time and practice doing this I suppose it’ll work just fine. You could even load it into ZBrush and sculpt it properly if it doesn’t mess with your UVs.