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A Beginner's Guide to Texture Painting in Blender

Author: Surfaced StudioTime: 2024-01-20 09:20:00

Table of Contents

Introduction to Texture Painting in Blender

Texture painting is a powerful feature in Blender that allows you to paint colors, details, and textures directly onto a 3D model. With texture painting, you can quickly add realism, interest, and personality to your 3D assets without having to create complex shaders or source texture maps.

In this beginner's guide, you'll learn the basics of setting up models for texture painting in Blender, using the brush tools to paint, and applying your textures back to your 3D scenes.

Overview of Texture Painting

Texture painting is the process of 'painting' colors and textures onto a 3D model within Blender. It works by first UV unwrapping your model to create a 2D representation of the 3D geometry. This UV 'net' is like the template for the texture map. You then create a blank image texture and assign it to your model. Within Blender, you can use the texture paint brushes to literally paint onto this blank texture - coloring it, detailing it, etc. The painted texture is then mapped back onto your 3D model, so your paintwork shows up on the model itself.

Benefits of Texture Painting

Texture painting has some great advantages over other texturing methods:

  • It's very intuitive - you simply paint colors and details directly onto a 3D surface
  • It's flexible - you can paint precisely on specific areas and build up detail gradually
  • Changes are easy to make by overpainting existing textures
  • No need to source or create material textures from scratch

Setting Up a Model for Texture Painting

To prepare a model for texture painting in Blender, there are three key steps:

  1. UV Unwrap the Model

  2. Create a Blank Image Texture

  3. Assign Materials

Unwrapping the 3D Model

UV unwrapping creates a 2D representation of a 3D model's surface. Think of it like peeling the 'skin' off the model and laying it flat. It maps the 3D geometry to a 2D texture map. Smart UV Project is the easiest way to automatically unwrap models. You need to UV unwrap your model before texture painting so Blender knows how to accurately map the painted texture back onto the 3D geometry.

Creating a Blank Texture

After UV unwrapping, you need a blank texture image mapped to the UV layout. This blank image is your canvas that you'll paint on. Create a new image texture and set the resolution. Higher resolutions allow more detail. The UV net will be overlaid on top of the blank texture, showing how your model maps to the image.

Assigning Materials

The last step is to create a material for your model, and assign the image texture to it. This tells Blender to use that image texture for the material color. When rendering, the painted texture will then appear mapped to the 3D model through the assigned material.

Painting Textures in Blender

With your model UV unwrapped and materials set up, you can start painting in the Texture Paint mode. Here are some tips for working with the texture brushes:

  • Use Brush Tools for painting color and details

  • Adjust brush size, strength and spacing for control

  • Use the Fill tool to quickly lay down big areas of color

  • Isolate parts to paint with Masking

  • Build up multiple layers of paint

  • Use stencils for repeating patterns

Using Brush Tools

Blender provides a range of brush-based tools for texture painting:

  • Brush - Paint colors and textures with bristle and airbrushes
  • Soften - Smoothen and blend painted details
  • Smear - Smudge and push paint around
  • Clone - Sample and copy areas of existing texture
  • Fill - Fill whole faces with solid color
  • Masking - Limit painting to masked faces

Applying Colors and Details

Painting textures is easy and intuitive with Blender's brushes. Some tips:

  • Use reference images as color guides when painting
  • Start with base colors laid down with Fill tool
  • Add variation with overlapping brush strokes
  • Build up highlights, shadows, dirt and wear gradually
  • Use Clone tool to copy fine details
  • Soften to blend and smooth transitions

Isolating Parts to Paint

You can isolate and mask off parts of a model to paint:

  • Switch to Edit Mode to select faces
  • Enable Face Selection masking in Texture Paint
  • This limits painting to those faces only
  • Useful for working on specific sections selectively

Applying Texture Paint to Models

With the fundamentals covered, let's see texture painting applied to a simple scene:

  • First we'll paint a basic tree with trunk, branches and leaves

  • Then add some color to the rocky terrain

  • Finally use a Fill layer to quickly color the clouds

Painting a Tree Model

For the tree, we UV unwrapped the trunk, branches and leaves separately. This allowed us to isolate and fill just the trunk with brown, and leaves with green. We then used masking to protect the trunk while overpainting highlights on the leaves and details on the bark.

Texturing Rocks and Clouds

The terrain was one joined mesh, so we could paint it all at once. After laying down a base fill layer, we brushed in highlights and details. For the clouds, we used the Fill tool again to quickly splash them with a flat shade of white.


Texture painting allows you to quickly add realistic surface textures to your 3D models in Blender.

With some practice, you can use texture brushes to create all kinds of materials - whether organic, like stone or bark, or artificial, like rusted metal or graffiti.

Texture painting won't replace full PBR texturing, but it's great for concept models, prototyping and modular asset design.


Q: What is texture painting in Blender?
A: Texture painting allows you to use Blender's brush tools to directly paint colors and textures onto a 3D model's surface and geometry. The painted texture is then mapped onto the 3D model.

Q: How do you set up a model for texture painting?
A: You need to unwrap the 3D model to create a UV map, make a blank texture, and assign materials that reference the texture to the model.

Q: What brushes can you use for texture painting?
A: Blender has brushes for painting color, softening edges, cloning areas, filling in spaces, and masking off parts of a model.

Q: How do you isolate parts of a model for texture painting?
A: You can use Blender's selection tools to choose certain faces or objects, then enable the paint mask option to only paint on the selected areas.

Q: Can you texture paint low poly models?
A: Yes, texture painting works great on low poly models as you can quickly add color, contrast, and details to make them more visually interesting.

Q: Does texture painting produce low or high resolution textures?
A: You can control the texture resolution - low sizes are fast for painting but look pixelated, high sizes take longer to paint but are detailed.

Q: Can you edit textures after painting them?
A: Yes, you can go back and tweak the colors, patterns, and details of a painted texture by re-entering texture paint mode.

Q: What is the benefit of texture painting vs. image textures?
A: Painted textures are dynamic and customizable for each model. Image textures like JPGs can be limited in fitting to different models.

Q: Can you use texture painting with PBR shaders?
A: Yes, painted textures can be used with Blender's PBR shader materials to create realistic lighting on textured models.

Q: Is there a way to transfer textures between models?
A: Yes, you can bake textures from one model onto others by using the Bake tab in Blender's Render properties.