I have been playing with GIMP to create the textures for the fountain. Although not as "intuitive" as, say, Adobe Photoshop, I have found GIMP to be adequate for my needs. It is also free, which it great for an indie game producer/university professor with a tight budget yet big ideas.
Using Blender to export UV maps on which to create the textures was hardly easy: It seemed to take me forever to get a handle on the idea of the texture channels, not to mention that key parts of the interface were spread over different parts of the application. Perhaps the upcoming Blender 2.50 release will address some of these issues. Anyway, here is what I got so far:
I was particularly please with the water and rust stains I was able to replicate using the GIMP airbrush tool and grabbing samples from stock photographs of rust. Nevertheless, there are still some areas I would like to address in my second attempt at creating a more perfect model texture:
- Remove seams: Blender unwraps a 3D mesh along predetermined and computer-generated seams. Here, the rust stain actually crosses a seam, making it visible to the viewer. Although the seam here is not so noticable (compared to the other side of the fountain and the lip of the basin), seams can be reapplied in a different pattern to an existing texture map, thereby allowing edges to be graphically altered and minimized.
- Smooth stretching: The curved surface of the basin lip introduced a lot of image distortion when the texture was applied to the mesh. After unwrapping the UV map, I will probably have to go in an manually tweak the map in order to minimze stretching.
- Create bump map: Although the stone texture looks fine if you look head-on at the fountain, the way that the light plays on the fountain at an angle creates the sense that the fountain is "unreal," are carved too perfectly. This is not the feeling I want to create with a fountain that has been exposed to the elements for years. A bump map will break up the surface reflection a bit, thereby creating the sense that the stone has texture. I will also have to cut down on reflection a bit, too.
- Resize textures: The main pillar in the center of the fountain has, I believe, the right sized texture applied to its mesh. The grain of the stone appears to be the right size for the mass of the structure and, accordingly, just feels right. The basin, however, is another matter and the stone grain just looks too large.
In any case, a second (or even third) stab at it will hopefully create a more realistic sense of actually being there. Once that is done, I should probably start looking at some Python programming to structure the player interactivity with the object...