Unwrap UVW Modifier
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Select one or more objects. Modify panel Modifier List Object-Space Modifiers Unwrap UVW

Select one or more objects. Modifiers menu UV Coordinates Unwrap UVW

The Unwrap UVW modifier lets you assign mapping coordinates to sub-object selections, and to edit the UVW coordinates of those selections. You can also use it to unwrap and edit existing UVW coordinates on an object. Maps can be adjusted to the proper fit on a Mesh, Patch, Polygon, HSDS, or NURBS model.

The Unwrap UVW modifier can be used as a self-contained UVW mapper and UVW coordinate editor, or in conjunction with the UVW Map modifier. If you use Unwrap UVW in conjunction with the UVW Map modifier, it is usually so you can use a mapping method unavailable in Unwrap UVW, such as Shrink Wrap. You can animate UVW coordinates by turning on the Auto Key button and transforming the coordinates at different frames.

NoteAfter applying the Unwrap UVW modifier, open mapping edges, or seams, appear on the modified object in the viewports. This helps you visualize the locations of mapping clusters on the object surface. You can toggle this feature and set the line thickness with the Display setting.

Open UVW mapping edges (seams) shown on head model in viewport

Self-Contained Mapper and UVW Coordinate Editor

Rather than creating a large modifier stack by first making a sub-object selection of faces and then adding a UVW Map modifier to specify the type of mapping, you can use the Unwrap UVW modifier to do both. You can select sub-object vertices, edges, or faces/patches, store sub-object selections as named selections, map them using planar and other methods, and then edit the UVW coordinates for each sub-object selection, all from within the Unwrap UVW modifier. For example, to map a character's face using three planar maps, you could create three sub-object selections of the front and sides of the face, planar-map the selections individually, and then edit the UVW coordinates for each selection, all without leaving the Unwrap UVW modifier.

Support for Multiple Unwrap Objects

Instancing capabilities in Unwrap UVW make it easy to map a texture across several objects. You simply make your selection and then apply Unwrap UVW. When you open the editor, you’ll see the mapping coordinates for all selected objects containing the instanced modifier. The editor shows each object’s wireframe color so you can distinguish the different objects.

Left: Two objects’ UVW coordinates in the editor, showing wireframe colors.

Right (inset): The objects with a shared Unwrap UVW modifier in the viewport.

TipThe UVWs of different objects typically start out in the same location in the editor, so it’s a good idea to separate them before editing. To save time, use the Pack UVs function on the Tools menu.

What Happens to Existing UVW Coordinates

When you apply the Unwrap UVW modifier, it stores the object's current mapping coordinates in the modifier. If the object has no mapping coordinates, the modifier creates new ones by applying planar mapping. If the incoming data on the stack is a face-level or polygon-level sub-object selection, then only the UVWs for the selected faces are brought into the modifier, and the modifier's sub-object levels are unavailable.

When the modifier is evaluated, its UVWs are reassigned to the object flowing down the pipeline. So if the UVWs upstream are changed, the changes won't make it past the Unwrap UVW modifier. If the Unwrap modifier is operating on a selection of faces, then upstream changes to unselected faces will still be able to flow past the Unwrap modifier.

Native Support for HSDS, Polygon Object, and Patch mapping

Unwrap UVW supports polygon faces and Bezier quad and tri patch faces in addition to triangles and quads.

Below is a sample of what the various face types look like based on the incoming type. For HSDS and Poly surfaces, the basic interface remains the same, except that the maximum number of sides per polygon increases from 4 to over two billion. HSDS supports only one level of detail: the level at which the mapping was. Patches have handles on nonlinear vertices. These handles work just like regular patch handles.

Faces from HSDS and Poly surfaces; handles appear for nonlinear vertices

Pinning Textures

Although not its primary purpose, you can use the Unwrap UVW modifier to freeze UVWs. You can apply mapping after an animated deformation and have the mapping stick to the object. For example, you can apply Unwrap UVW above a Morpher modifier in the modifier stack, apply planar maps and edit the UVW coordinates. The mapping will follow the morphing geometry.


To use Unwrap UVW with the standard mapping methods:

This procedure offers a general overview of using the basic Unwrap UVW tools available on the Modify panel and the Edit UVWs dialog. Unwrap UVW provides many additional tools not described in this procedure, particularly in the editor.

For procedures detailing other mapping methods available with Unwrap UVW, see To use Pelt mapping and To use Spline mapping.

  1. Apply the modifier and a texture-mapped material to an object. Set the material to display in the viewports, set at least one viewport to be shaded (for example, press F3 to toggle between Wireframe and Smooth+Highlights), and, if necessary, turn off Shade Selected Faces (press F2) for that viewport so the texture mapping is visible.
  2. Go to the Face sub-object level of the Unwrap modifier and make a selection of contiguous faces. You'll use a single mapping type on this selection.

    Within the single modifier, you can apply as many different mappings as you like to different face selections.

  3. Name the face selection using the Named Selection Sets function on the main toolbar. This makes it easy to return to the selection set in the viewports for subsequent mapping adjustments. For example, if you're working on a house, you could use names such as roof.
    ImportantBe sure to press Enter after typing the selection set name.
    NoteNaming each face selection set isn’t strictly necessary, but it is highly recommended.
  4. On the Map Parameters rollout, click the appropriate mapping type button (Planar, Box, etc.) and then adjust the gizmo using any combination of the transform tools (Move, Rotate, Scale) in the viewports and the Align buttons (Align X, etc.) on the Map Parameters rollout.
    TipYou can often save time by starting with the Best Align command and then adjusting manually from there.

    After each adjustment of the mapping gizmo, the texture display in the viewports updates to reflect the mapping changes, as do the green seam lines on the object that show where the open edges lie (depending on the object shape and mapping type; the seam lines don't change with Planar mapping). To cause the viewports to update in real time, turn on Edit UVWs dialog Constant Update.

    You can also open the editor (Parameters rollout Edit) to view the changes in the generated texture coordinates as you adjust the gizmo.

  5. Click the mapping type button again to turn it off and exit mapping for this face selection.
  6. Continue making and naming selections and applying mapping until the entire mesh is mapped. Use the green seam display lines as a guide. If you don't see them, make sure Parameters rollout Display Group Show Map Seam is on.
  7. Open the Edit UVWs dialog (Parameters rollout Edit).

    By default, the editor displays a checkered background. To view the map in the material on the object, you need to change a setting.

  8. At the right end of the editor upper toolbar, click the drop-down list that currently reads CheckerPattern (Checker) and choose the map that's applied to the material.

    The map appears as the background.

    By default, all the UVW clusters display. To work on one cluster at a time, you need to filter the UVWs.

  9. On the Edit UVWs dialog lower toolbar, click (Filter Selected Faces).

    At this point, the editor shows only faces you select in the viewport, and hides the rest. You can select faces to show directly in the viewport, or choose a named selection set. In the next step, you'll use the latter method.

  10. On the main toolbar, open the Named Selection Sets drop-down list, and choose one of your named selection sets.

    The viewports show the selection as active, and the UVW coordinates for the selection appear in Edit UVWs window.

  11. In the Edit UVWs window, select and move a UVW face.

    In the viewports, the texture slides around the selected portion of the object mesh.

  12. Choose a different selection set and edit its UVW coordinates.

    Again, the viewport display reflects the editing changes.

  13. In a viewport, drag to select a group of faces by region.

    The faces' UVW coordinates display in the Edit UVWs window. This is another way of choosing what you want to work on.

    As you can see, from within the Unwrap UVW modifier you can assign multiple mapping types to different, optionally named face selections, and then edit the UVW coordinates to fine-tune map placement on the geometry.

To perform quick planar mapping:

You'll find the Quick Planar Map controls on the Map Parameters rollout of the Unwrap UVW modifier.

  1. Apply Unwrap UVW to an object.
  2. Go to the Face sub-object level.
  3. Select the faces to map.

    The Quick Map gizmo appears juxtaposed over the face selection, showing the default Averaged Normals mapping.

  4. If you prefer a different orientation for the mapping, choose X, Y, or Z.
  5. Click Quick Planar Map to apply the mapping. To map additional faces, proceed from step 3.

Example: To restore the original mapping coordinates after swtiching to a non-default channel:

An object contains 99 different sets of texture coordinates; each mapping modifier controls one of these. When you change the Unwrap UVW modifier Map Channel setting, 3ds Max copies the texture coordinates from the previous channel. If you want to use the original coordinates stored in the channel it’s necessary to reset the coordinates to restore them from lower on the modifier stack or from the object’s internal mapping attributes.

  1. Add a box primitive to the scene.
  2. Apply a UVW Map modifier and set Mapping to Cylindrical.

    Note Map Channel is set to 1 by default.

  3. Apply a second UVW Map modifier, set Map Channel to 2, and set Mapping to Spherical.
  4. Add an Unwrap UVW modifier (note Map Channel is set to 1 by default) and click Edit on the Parameters panel.

    Note the cylindrical mapping coords, inherited from the UVW Map modifier in step 2.

  5. On the Parameters panel, set Map Channel to 2.

    The mapping in the editor doesn't change because the modifier copied the cylindrical mapping coordinates from channel 1, thus replacing the spherical coordinates from the second UVW Map modifier (from step 3).

  6. On the Parameters panel, click Reset UVWs.

    The spherical mapping coordinates are recovered from the second underlying UVW Mapping modifier into map channel 2 in the Unwrap UVW modifier.

    TipWhen you use Reset UVWs, any edits to the current channel’s mapping coordinates are lost. Thus, if there’s any chance you might want to use the edited coordinates later, first store the coordinates in a disk file with the Save function on the Parameters rollout. Alternatively, collapse the object’s stack and then apply another mapping modifier.

To export texture coordinates to a paint program:

  1. Apply the Unwrap UVW modifier to your object and use the modifier tools to set up the mapping. Texture-coordinate clusters that will use the same texture area should overlap.
  2. From the Edit UVWs dialog menu bar, choose Tools Render UVW Template.

    This opens the Render UVs dialog:

  3. Set the Width and Height values to the output resolution you want in the rendered template. You'll usually get good results by setting the desired width and then clicking Guess Aspect Ratio.
    TipWhen creating texture maps for gaming and other real-time 3D engines, be sure to set both dimensions to powers of 2: 256, 512, 1024, etc.
  4. Change the remaining values as needed. By default, the template is rendered with the edges as white and opaque (alpha=1.0), and background is empty and transparent (background alpha=0.0), but you have a variety of choices here, as detailed in Render UVs Dialog.
  5. At the bottom of the dialog, click Render UV Template.

    This opens a new rendered frame window containing the rendered template as a bitmap. Inspect the output, and if changes are necessary, make them on the Render UVs dialog and re-render.

  6. When you're satisfied with the results, then on the rendered frame window toolbar, click (Save Bitmap), and then use the file dialog to specify the file type and name. Click Save to export the file.

    If you want to use the rendered transparency information in the paint program, be sure to save in a format that supports the alpha channel, such as TIF or Targa.

  7. Open the exported image in a paint program and use the rendered edges as a guide for painting the texture map. Save the image when done.

    Be sure to paint over or erase all the edges so they don't appear in the final texture.

  8. Back in 3ds Max, create a material, set the Diffuse map to Bitmap, and open the file from the previous step.
  9. Apply the material to your mesh object.

    The painted texture map follows the outlines set up by the exported UVs.


After applying the modifier, its panel appears, consisting of the modifier stack plus two rollouts:

Modifier Stack display

Normally, when you apply Unwrap UVW to an object, the modifier stack provides access to Vertex, Edge, and Face sub-object levels. These are synchronized with the corresponding selection modes on the Edit UVWs dialog. The Vertex and Edge sub-object levels are useful for making UVW vertex and edge selections in the viewports, where texture mapping on the object surface is more readily visible, and the Edge level is also useful for setting up edge selections that you can later convert to pelt seams.

If you apply Unwrap UVW to an active face selection of an Editable/Edit Mesh/Poly object, or to an active patch selection of an Editable/Edit Patch object, no sub-object levels are available in the Unwrap UVW modifier. You can use Unwrap UVW to edit only the selection that was active when you applied the modifier. Changing the sub-object selection in the object doesn't affect the Unwrap modifier contents, because the modifier obtains the face selection when you first apply it.

All three sub-object levels are synchronized between the modifier stack and the Selection Modes group on the Edit UVWs dialog. When you activate a sub-object level in one, it's also activated in the other. Similarly, selecting sub-objects in a viewport selects them in the editor and vice-versa.

Selection Parameters rollout

Use these settings to make or modify a sub-object selection for use by the modifier. If you've passed a face selection up the stack, for example from the Poly Select modifier, Unwrap UVW uses that instead, and makes these controls unavailable.

+ button

Expands the selection by selecting all faces adjacent to selected faces.

- button

Reduces the selection by deselecting all faces adjacent to non-selected faces.


Expands an edge selection by selecting all edges parallel to the selected edges. Ring applies only to edge selections.


Expands the selection as far as possible, in alignment with selected edges. Loop applies only to edge selections, and propagates only through junctions of even numbers of edges.

Ignore Backfacing

When region selecting, prevents the selection of faces not visible in the viewport.

Select By Element

Lets you select elements.

Planar Angle

Lets you select contiguous coplanar faces with one click. Turn this on, and then set the threshold angle value that determines which faces are coplanar. Then click a face to select it and all contiguous faces whose angles are less than the threshold value.

Planar Angle is available only at the Face sub-object level.

Select MatID

Enables face selection by material ID. Specify the material ID to select, and then click Select MatID.

Select MatID is available only at the Face sub-object level.

Select SG

Enables face selection by smoothing group. Specify the smoothing group to select, and then click Select SG.

Select SG is available only at the Face sub-object level.

Parameters rollout


Displays the Edit UVWs dialog.

Reset UVWs

Restores the UVW coordinates to the original status.

Clicking this is almost the same as removing and reapplying the modifier, except that a map assigned in the Edit UVWs dialog is not deleted. For example, if you forgot to turn on the Generate Mapping Coordinates check box for an object, and then applied the Unwrap UVW modifier, the modifier would have no UVW coordinates to use and its settings would be wrong. If you then go back in the Stack and turn on Generate Mapping Coordinates, you'd need to click the Reset UVWs button. When you click this button, an alert warns you that you're losing any edits you've made.


Saves the UVW coordinates to a UVW (.uvw) file.


Loads a previously saved UVW file.

Channel group

Each object can have up to 99 different UVW mapping coordinate channels. The default mapping channel (from the Generate Mapping Coordinates toggle in the object’s creation parameters) is always channel 1. You can specify texture coordinates for any channel by using a different Unwrap UVW or UVW Map modifier for each channel.

ImportantWhen you change the Map Channel setting, 3ds Max copies the current edits to the new channel. To access the texture coordinates stored in the channel prior to the copy, use the Reset UVWs command (see preceding). To edit the texture coordinates of multiple channels (thus for different maps), use a different modifier (Unwrap UVW or UVW Map) for each one.

If you already have edits in that channel from another modifier, those edits could be overwritten. To ensure preservation of your edits, save them before changing the channel and then reload the saved edits as necessary.

Map Channel

Sets the identification number of the texture coordinates controlled by the modifier. This channel value corresponds to the Map Channel value set in a map’s parameters, so that the modifier controls how maps set to the same channel are applied to the object surface. Default=1. Range=1 to 99

You can use multiple Unwrap UVW modifiers in the modifier stack, each set to a different map channel and thus controlling the mapping coordinates of different maps in a material.

If you specify a different channel, make sure any maps in the object’s material that should use that mapping are also set to that channel.

The map channel setting is available in various places in 3ds Max, as follows:

  • Generate Mapping CoordsThis check box, present in the creation parameters of most objects, assigns map channel 1 when on.
  • UVW Map, UVW Xform, and Unwrap UVWs modifiersThese modifiers let you set the map channel to 1 through 99, thus specifying which UVW coordinates the modifier uses. The modifier stack can pass these channels simultaneously for any face.
  • Material Editor Channel AssignmentYou assign the channel to be used by a map on the Coordinates rollout at the map level in the Material Editor. The Explicit Map Channel option must be active.
  • NURBS Surface Objects and Sub-ObjectsLet you specify which map channel the surface uses.
Vertex Color Channel

Define the channel as a vertex color channel by choosing this option. Be sure to match any material mapping in the coordinates rollout to be Vertex Color as well, or by using the Assign Vertex Colors utility.

Display group

This setting determines whether and how pelt seams and mapping cluster boundaries, also known as map seams, appear in the viewports:

Show Seam

When on, pelt boundaries appear in the viewports as blue lines.

Show Map Seam

When on, mapping cluster boundaries appear in the viewports as green lines. You can change this color by adjusting the Display seams color.

Thin/Thick Seam Display

The display thickness setting applies to both pelt seams and map seams:

  • Thin Seam DisplayDisplays map seams and pelt seams on object surfaces in the viewports with relatively thin lines. The line thickness remains constant as you zoom the view in and out.
  • Thick Seam DisplayDisplays map seams and pelt seams on object surfaces in the viewports with relatively thick lines. The line thickness increases when you zoom the view in and decreases when you zoom out. This is the default choice.


Prevent Reflattening

This option is used mainly for texture baking. When turned on, the version of the Unwrap UVW modifier automatically applied by Render To Texture, named, by default, Automatic Flatten UVs, will not reflatten the faces. Also, make sure that both Render To Texture and the modifier are using the same map channel.

Map Parameters rollout

You can apply any map type to selected faces, patches, or surfaces, and align the mapping gizmo in any of a variety of ways.

The mapping controls on the upper part of the rollout are available only at the Face sub-object level. Also, the Quick Map controls are available only when no mapping mode button (Planar, Pelt, etc.) is active. However, the seam controls are available at all sub-object levels.

NoteWhen a mapping type button is active, you cannot change the selection without first exiting the mapping operation.

Preview Quick Map Gizmo

When on, a rectangular planar mapping gizmo, applicable to the Quick Planar Map tool only, appears juxtaposed over the face selection in the viewports. This gizmo is not manually adjustable, but you can use the following control to reorient it.

X/Y/Z/Averaged Normals

Choose the alignment for the quick map gizmo: perpendicular to the object's local X, Y, or Z axis, or based on the faces' average normals.

Quick Planar Map

Applies planar mapping to the current face selection based on the orientation of the Quick Map gizmo.


Applies planar mapping to selected faces.

Make the selection, click Planar, adjust the mapping using the transform tools and Align buttons on the Map Parameters panel, and then click Planar again to exit.


Applies pelt mapping to selected faces. Clicking this button activates Pelt mode, in which you can adjust the mapping and edit the pelt map.

NotePelt mapping always uses a single planar mapping for the entire pelt. If you've applied a different type of mapping, such as Box, and then switch to Pelt, the previous mapping is lost.
TipFor the basic method of using Pelt mapping, see this procedure.

Applies cylindrical mapping to the currently selected faces.

Make a face selection, click Cylindrical, adjust the cylinder gizmo using the transform tools and Align buttons on the Map Parameters panel, and then click Cylindrical again to exit.

NoteWhen you apply Cylindrical mapping to a selection, 3ds Max maps each face to the side of the cylinder gizmo that most closely matches its orientation. For best results, use Cylindrical mapping with cylinder-shaped objects or object parts.

Applies spherical mapping to currently selected faces.

Make the face selection, click Spherical, adjust the sphere gizmo using the transform tools and Align buttons on the Map Parameters panel, and then click Spherical again to exit.


Applies box mapping to the currently selected faces.

Make the selection, click Box, adjust the box gizmo using the transform tools and Align buttons on the Map Parameters panel, and then click Box again to exit.

NoteWhen you apply Box mapping to a selection, 3ds Max maps each face to the side of the box gizmo that most closely matches its orientation. For best results, use Box mapping with box-shaped objects or object parts.

Applies spline mapping to the currently selected faces. Clicking this button activates Spline mode, in which you can adjust the mapping and edit the spline map.

Align X/Y/Z

Aligns the gizmo to the X, Y, or Z axis of the object's local coordinate system.

Best Align

Adjusts the mapping gizmo's position, orientation, and scale to fit that of the face selection, based on the selection's extents and average normals.


Scales the gizmo to the extents of the selection and centers it on the selection. Does not change the orientation.

Align To View

Reorients the mapping gizmo to face the active viewport and adjusts its size and position as necessary to fit the extents of the selection.


Moves the mapping gizmo so that its pivot coincides with the center of the selection.


Scales the gizmo to fit the selection and aligns it with the object's local space.

Normalize Map

When on, scales the mapping coordinates to fit into the standard coordinate mapping space: 0 to 1. When off, the mapping coordinates are the same size as the object. The map is always tiled once in the 0-1 coordinate space; the part of the map based on its Offset and Tiling values on

For example, if you take a sphere of 25 units that's planar mapped from the top, and then apply Unwrap UVW and turn off Normalize Map, then when you open the editor, the radius of the sphere's mapping coordinates is 25 units. As a result, the texture map is tiled onto the sphere surface many times. With Normalize Map on, both the sphere and the map fit into the 0-1 coordinate space, so they're the same size.

In general, for best results, leave Normalize Map on. One reason to turn it off would be to turn it off is if you want to map several elements of different proportions with a texture of a specific aspect ratio, such as brick, keeping the texture the same size on each object.

[Seam controls]

These tools, which give you different ways of specifying pelt seams, are available at all sub-object levels of the modifier. Pelt seams apply to pelt mapping, as well as to spline mapping when you use manual seams.

Edit Seams

Lets you specify a pelt seam by selecting edges with the mouse in the viewports.

This process is similar but not identical to standard edge selection:

  • Click an edge to add it to the current selection.
  • Alt+click an edge to remove it from the current selection.
  • Drag to select a region.
Point To Point Seam

Lets you specify pelt seams by selecting vertices with the mouse in the viewports. Pelt seams specified with this tool are always added to the current seam selection.

In this mode, after you click a vertex, a rubber-band line extends from the vertex you clicked to the mouse cursor. Click a different vertex to create a pelt seam, and then continue clicking vertices to create a seam from each vertex to the previous one. To start at a different point in this mode, right-click, and then click a different vertex. To stop drawing seams, click the button again to turn it off.

NoteWhile Point To Point Seam is active, you can pan, rotate, and zoom the viewport at any time using contextual controls (middle-button drag, Alt+middle-button drag, turn mouse wheel, respectively) to access a different part of the mesh surface. You can also navigate using the ViewCube and SteeringWheels. After doing so, 3ds Max still remembers the last vertex you clicked and draws an accurate seam at the next click. Similarly, you can adjust the viewport using the viewport control buttons and then return to selecting the seam. If the control requires more than a single click, such as Pan, exiting the control by right-clicking in the viewport restores the rubber-band line, extending from the last vertex you clicked.
TipThe algorithm Point To Point Seam uses to calculate a path might create a different seam than what you have in mind. If this happens, undo (Ctrl+Z) and specify the desired path by plotting points closer together.
Edge Sel To Seams

Converts the current edge selection in the modifier to pelt seams. These seams are added to any existing seams.

Exp(and) Face Sel to Seams

Expands the current face selection to meet the pelt seam border(s). If multiple seam outlines contain selected faces, the expansion takes place only for the last-selected face; all others are deselected.