How to do Camera Mapping

Discover how to harness the power of “camera mapping”, a powerful technique used in movies and tv shows.

Length:
60 minutes
Software:
Blender 2.66a
Difficulty:
Advanced
Rate:
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.8/5 (76 votes cast)

In this tutorial you will discover:

  • What camera mapping is
  • How camera mapping can be used with stunning results
  • How to camera map any still photograph

I’ve actually already made this tutorial once before. About 2 years ago infact. But over time, the tutorial became outdated, due to the “sticky” texture coordinates being removed from blender.

Since then, I’ve been bombarded with requests to re-do the tutorial. In the last month I think I must have got 10 or more separate requests. Crazy.

So in order to appease the masses (and end the emails) here’s the updated tutorial.

Finished Result

Download the finished .blend

Resources

Text Summary

1. Delete the default cube and lamp. Position the camera front on to the grid as shown:

 

2. Add the original image to the background:

 

3. Set the render resolution of your scene to match the photo’s dimensions:

 

4. Set the camera’s focal length to match the scene. If you don’t know the focal length, you’ll have to experiment.

 

5. Position and rotate the camera so that the grid floor is in line with the floor in the background image. These are the settings I used, but usually you’ll just eye it:

 

6. Add a cube to the scene and resize to fit the basic size of the room:

 

7. Make every face a separate object, and delete the ceiling.

 

8. Resize the walls to fit the image:

 

Mapping the floor

1. Open Photoshop or Gimp. Load in your image and using the lasso tool, select the floor as shown:

 

2. Copy and paste the floor onto a separate layer, on a transparent background:

 

3. Using the Clone Brush tool, carefully paint away over the middle column till it vanishes.

It should look like this when finished:

CLONE BRUSH: Not just for fixing military mistakes

Once finished, save it as a PNG with transparency.

 

4. Return to the scene and with the floor selected, subdivide it a good 10 times. This is important, as blender needs geometry in order to deliver accurate mapping.

 

5. From the camera’s viewpoint, press U, and select Project from View (this replaces the old “sticky” texture coordinates).

 

6. With the floor still selected, add a new material, go to the node editor, and create this setup using the image texture we just created:

If you render it out now, you should see this:

First object complete! Now for the walls…

 

Mapping the Walls

1. Jump back over to Photoshop and using the Polygonal Lasso tool, select the left wall:

 

2. Copy and paste the wall onto a separate layer:

 

3. We need to get rid of that wall in the foreground, so select a portion of the left wall as shown:

 

4. Copy and paste it, then resize it till it fits on the wall, effectively blotting out the front facing wall:

Save this image as a transparent PNG.

 

5. Repeat the above steps to do the same to the right wall:

 

6. Repeat the steps again for the backwall:

 

7. Return to blender and just as we did before, select the wall, subdivide it then unwrap it using “Project from View”.

 

8. Do the same for the right wall:

 

9. And the same for the back wall:

 

8. Give each wall it’s own material and texture, using this node setup that we created before:

You should now have this:

 

Mapping the doorway

1. Jump into photoshop, and just as we did before, crop the front face, paste it onto a new layer, then save it as a transparent PNG.

 

2. Go back to blender, add a plane, then rotate and position it so it’s line with the front wall in the photo:

 

3. Go into edit mode and create the basic facade by extruding the plane:

 

4. Model some basic steps into the mesh to reflect the original image (modelling this will make it look more accurate when the camera moves):

 

5. Finish modelling more detail into the mesh as shown:

 

6. Create several loop cuts in the mesh (for more accurate mapping) then UV project from view:

 

7. In blender, select the front wall mesh and assign the same material with the new texture we just created:

You should now have this:

 

Mapping the Ceiling

1. To create the curved ceiling, add a cylinder and position as shown:

 

2. Delete the unimportant parts of the mesh and align it to the background image:

 

3. Create some loop cuts (for more accurate mapping) then UV project from view:

 

4. Go back to photoshop, isolate the ceiling and remove the girders as shown.

This one will probably be the hardest to achieve since there’s a lot of girders. All it takes is time, patience and a clone brush.

 

5. Assign the texture to the mesh as per usual and you should have this:

 

You should now have this:

Resize your image dimensions to 1920×1080 and you’ll have this:

 

To make an even more believable illusion, add finer detail to your scene like support beams, cords and little raised surfaces on the floor and walls. This is all optional, but it’ll really help to sell the animation.

 

Eventually you’ll have this:

Now go ahead and animate that camera!

 

Further Inspiration

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Make something cool? Post it in the comments below :)

How to do Camera Mapping, 4.8 out of 5 based on 76 ratings

About Andrew Price

User of Blender for 9+ years. I've written tutorials for 3d World Magazine and spoken at three Blender conferences. My goal is to help artists get employed in the industry by making training accessible and easy to understand. I'm an Aussie and I live in South Korea ;)
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  • hoplite

    Only problem with this is it doesn’t work with footage because the UV mapping essentially ‘sticks’ the camera’s projection on the frame you select. Isn’t there any way to keep the projection updating along with a camera track so that you can add 3D elements into existing footage the same way you can with pretty much every other 3D program out there, as well as Nuke’s Project3D node?

    • The T

      Do you mean motion tracking? That’s possible, just google something like “blender motion tracking”.

  • Warren D. M. Reed

    Really thanks s much fr this. srry the 20th letter stpped wrking n my keybard. hw retarded is that? anyway this is a generus heart t share s much. u have helped me in blender and in cam mapping whch i am triying t master. tw f my materails didn’t shw up but what hte hell u gave me the essentials. I really really really need this t cmbine with matchmving. may i thank u again?

  • Sakrecoer

    Hey!! Thanks alot for this!!
    I was wondering how you created the lightray comming from the ceeling? I’ve understood it’s a tough thing to accomplish without cheating… but maybe you have a special blender kung-fu trick? :)

    Thanks anyway!

  • Magic Window Productions

    After watching this tut I wanted to do something like this and I started searching. I found this unbelievable video!!! Hope you enjoy and get inspired, I know I did!!! http://vimeo.com/36757486

  • newart2000

    Thanks for the great tutorials. I tried a city skyline with a bridge model http://youtu.be/EQjnsABLbqA

  • salamander rake

    I have a strange issue, or its just me, with the cube aligning up with the image in the camera view. Here is my blend file, http://www.pasteall.org/blend/24149

    • salamander rake

      Lol I just noticed in the video you rotated the camera.

  • salamander rake

    Sorry I’m not giving some site my personal information, like phone number and home address, to just download a “free” stock image and then have some twit hack into their site and steal my info.

    • salamander rake

      And yes I signed up anyway.

  • Konstantin

    the best cam maping in blender I’ve ever seen http://vimeo.com/25392699

  • PLopez
  • D.B.

    I forgot something very important. U can do camera mapping on a footage. U just need to have a very good 3D track of camera and then use as background the fotage and in the place u need to project u duplicate the tracked 3d camera and freeze and use only the frame u need. This way u can remove/introduce objects in your live footage and get a better texturing without stretching and better geometry of the real building/scene

  • newart2000

    hear is mine its simple compared to the others but here goes http://youtu.be/_bom9yCKVOM Nice tutorial keep it up and good work everyone .

  • http://www.one-graphist.ir/ Morteza18

    Hi Andrew.
    tanks for your Effort.
    my name is Morteza and i am learning Blender.
    I ‘m from Iran and i ‘m looking for your perfect site.

    Good luck

  • Flo

    Thank you Andrew for this tutorial! Here is my attempt :

    http://youtu.be/omkg-YWRl3k

  • JC

    Andrew or anyone…
    Why are the transparent areas of my PNG textures BLACK in render views instead of transparent? They even show correctly in the UV editor, so I know blender knows that those areas are suppose to be transparent (and also therefore I know I didn’t mess them up when making them). Kinda makes it hard to camera map outdoor scenes with trees and stuff (free form shapes) if you can’t put them in front of anything without blocking it.

    • Chris H

      The material/shader ignores the alpha channel and only looks at the RGB. And this is how it should be, The shader wouldn’t know what to do with the alpha anyways.

      What you need to do (if you’re using Cycles) is to add a mix node, connect the main material shader to the first shader input, add a Transparent Shader to the second input and connect Alpha from the image node to the factor value of the mix node.

      • mariobrega

        connect the emission shader to the BOTTOM input of the mix shader node. connect emission transparent BSDF shader to the TOP of the mix shader node. Connect alpha grey slot of the image texture node to the fac slot of the mix shader and the game is done.

  • Phuoc Can HUA
    • Charlie Ringström

      Wow! Amazing!

  • Shirsh Zibbu

    i have a question – in the video, at 10:30 & onwards, you were separating the faces of the cube to make individual objects. why didn’t you used multiple planes in the first place?

    • Austin Brennan

      I’m guessing it was easier to align the walls by starting with a cube and separating them than it would have been to have done this with separate planes. Probably just time saving there

  • alfred

    I’m just discovering this software to familiarize and efficient animator.

  • alfred

    Very outstanding tutorials, good job! I salute you…

  • Dallas Sumner
  • westeast1000

    i cant even get through step 6 :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marek-Jedrzejewski/100000433051081 Marek Jędrzejewski
  • Nearoo Sasquatch

    Wow THAT was amazing! I love your tutorials :D

  • Filippo Porcari
  • LOGAN

    I also was enspired… and with the tutorial and the recent post on BLAM I made this… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNGO4t1dyCg
    Hope you enjoy it :)

  • Verticies

    Thanks, Great.
    Content Aware might be of use.

  • V. Kelly Bellis

    the factory got BLAMMED
    http://youtu.be/x6TPk17AmFs

    Thanks to all the folks who commented and suggested BLAM – I works great!

  • V. Kelly Bellis

    Albrecht’s apparatus

    http://youtu.be/rJpGl0DktKE

  • http://www.facebook.com/luis.clovis Luis Clovis Bonfim

    Just another BLAM tutorial:

    http://vimeo.com/35421849

  • Bob Marple

    I think your absolutely right about the illogical way blender handles UV’s (stretching after the fact, mapping, etc), I think you need to get another poll going – like the one you did where everyone voted for an upgraded render engine…. Anyway great tut!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/marccotran Marc Cotran

    Great tut Andrew! I’m wondering if you could have used Photoshop’s Vanishing Point filter to keep the clones in perspective. I’ve found it does an awesome job of making things disappear:

    http://help.adobe.com/en_US/photoshop/cs/using/WS714a382cdf7d304e153d0941004907be29-7ff5a.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/scooter.smith.92 Scooter Smith

    Oh this is the BEST tutorial in a long time! Not that your other ones are bad, they all are brilliant, but I have ALWAYS wanted to learn this and hell I didn’t even know what the method was called. You see a lot of simple ones on tv and in documentary where the camera kinda of pans and zooms slightly, but not full blown like this. Thank you for this one :)

  • V. Kelly Bellis

    I’m still dubbing around with this exercise and thought that maybe if you could please Andrew, add a link above in the text pointing us to another how to, but specifically addressing your last bit: “Now go ahead and animate that camera!”