Why Your Model Textures Are Probably Wrong


I posted on twitter awhile back about finding textures for your 3d Models.  It wasn’t long after I posted that I got a reply saying,

I stepped up to the plate and admitted to Henri that I didn’t know this rule and asked him if he’d be willing to dive into the subject for the Design Nation.  He agreed.

Hold onto your seats, this is about to get pretty technical.

If you want to fast-forward to how to make correct textures, click here.

Courtesy of the Post-Apocalyptic Research Institute @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/postapocalyptic/

Courtesy of the Post-Apocalyptic Research Institute @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/postapocalyptic/

The card’s the limit

Henri explained that when 3d modelling first started, the graphic cards of the day were much less powerful and the size of the textures that could be used were very much restricted.

He explains with a standard (for the day) Esig 3000 which had only 12MB of texture memory.

To use the textures in the RT system you had to compile it with the 3D models to create a Texture Page file. This file was needed for Paging_memory_allocation.

512 64 32 16 2
512 64 32 16 2

The numbers above relate to the amount of memory space reserved for each size of texture map. The texture sizes that could be used where only: 64*64, 128*128, 256*256 and 512*512. 

Photo courtesy of Chris Isherwood @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/isherwoodchris/

Photo courtesy of Chris Isherwood @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/isherwoodchris/

There are two memory banks available:

two 512*512 maps per bank
Sixteen 256*256 maps per bank
Thirty two 128*128 maps per bank
Sixty four 64*64 maps per bank
Five hundred and twelve tops maps per bank

With 12Mb of texture memory available the maximum number of texture maps per size is:

12           512*512               = 12Mb
48           256*256               = 12Mb
192         128*128               = 12Mb
768         64*64                   = 12Mb

That was then, this is now

Well obviously we don’t have 12Mb graphic cards anymore right?  So what’s the problem?

You might not notice a huge slowing of your models if your textures are not a factor of 64*64 or even square, but that still doesn’t mean it’s best practice.

We want to make sure your habits are pushing you towards the right things (and success).

Do you think it’s a coincidence that sketchup’s default material icon is square?

sketchup materials

When you start to notice

When you have to create a large airfield with a lot of buildings, airplanes for all different companies, cars, light poles, blast fences etc. you need to be careful. What we did is create the textures, all at 72 dpi, with a factor off 1024*1024 or 2048*2048. The most textures have multiple livery’s or scenes in it to save memory space. When you’re ready, create a script in PS and save them down to all possible sizes in different directory’s. Then you can select the right size you need for your model within the amount of memory space that is available. It is easier to work with large files in PS and you get a nicer texture. 

What happens when your texture’s are wrong

What will happen when the texture size is not square and doesn’t have a factor of 64*64 with 72 dpi let’s say 1000*2000. The software will split it by itself, randomly, which can cause memory problems if you’re using many textures. If you’re using RGB files with an Alpha channel things can go dramatically wrong.

Henri explains,

I’m sure that is still the case in Sketchup, the numbers are a lot higher but it works the same because we still use OpenGL. I had a discussion in 2009 on the SketchUcation forum and about a problem someone had with textures in SU 7. The maximum size mentioned for SU was by default 1024*1024 and could be changed to 4096*4096. I don’t know what the maximum number is in SU 2014, but it should be a factor of 64*64 at 72 dpi. 

Photo courtesy of Stallio @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/stallio/

Photo courtesy of Stallio @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/stallio/

What does all of this mean for your textures?

Basically what all of this tech talk means according is that your textures should be square and sized to a multiple of 64*64 pixels at 72 dpi.

What do you think of all this?  Are you planning on making all of your textures square?  Let us know in the comments below.


  1. allstarcarpetandtiles June 24, 2019 at 10:31 am #

    Great tips. I’m bookmarking this page. Its a great resource to keep. Thanks for sharing.

  2. hamzakhan17826 May 19, 2019 at 7:16 am #

    Ok sure, I will follow your steps before going to do exams. I hope your article will help me more.

  3. karlmistos May 14, 2019 at 10:41 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this. I’ll definitely share this with my classmates at de la salle zobel.

  4. classboat01 October 17, 2018 at 7:37 am #

    Hello there and thanks for your information, I have certainly picked up allot new info from right your post. You are also provided information about best tips for exam,Which is very helpful to me and other people also.

  5. mikemoreno September 5, 2018 at 3:48 am #

    thank you very much, verry helpfull…

  6. jogesh12345 August 14, 2018 at 1:55 am #

    Very effective and informative article.Thanks for sharing such an important tutorial.

  7. FLMIMA August 11, 2018 at 9:20 pm #

    Really helpful website

  8. Rumi July 15, 2018 at 7:16 am #

    I feel very grateful that I read this. It is very helpful and very informative and I really learned a lot from it.

  9. RJennings April 28, 2018 at 6:12 pm #

    Thank you for this website. The practice questions are helpful.

  10. Scott March 22, 2018 at 1:50 pm #

    Taking this test on Saturday. Last 4.0 exam to complete for the trio, then on to 5.0. This site is my go-to place when organizing what materials I’ll be studying

  11. shozab January 30, 2018 at 2:22 pm #

    Hi , very good article.

    thanks for sharing, keep up the good work

  12. dyba January 27, 2018 at 1:08 am #

    Good advice. Best of luck to all!

  13. KendraShirley January 16, 2018 at 4:04 pm #

    This is my favorite site for practicing for my tests! Great advise and super helpful.

  14. reximagetrim January 16, 2018 at 10:37 am #

    Nice post to read. A complete guide that can help all of us.

  15. tylerstockholm December 17, 2017 at 9:37 pm #

    Nice one… very helpful! Thanks!!!

  16. Aartiwalvekar November 21, 2017 at 8:56 am #

    Nice post

  17. Aartiwalvekar October 9, 2017 at 9:45 pm #

    Great post!

  18. Tony August 30, 2017 at 7:07 am #

    In the NCARB ARE 5.0 handbook they reference Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods in both of their example questions for cost estimating. Unfortunately there isn’t a specific chapter on cost estimating, it’s woven throughout the content.

  19. Spencer August 30, 2017 at 1:15 am #

    What is the best reference for cost estimating for PDD.

  20. Amy July 26, 2017 at 3:24 pm #

    Thanks! Great advice

  21. Tony June 29, 2017 at 7:23 am #

    Deciduous trees should only be used for shade (especially in temperate climates). Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall and will have little protection against wind in the winter when it is most needed. Likewise, the leafless trees allow solar heat gain in the winter when it is desired, and shade in the summer.

    Coniferous trees are only to be used to block wind and views. Since they don’t lose their needles, they work great for these two items year-round.

  22. Shahid Logan June 28, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

    Hello. My name is Shahid. This comment is for anyone who would like to reply. On the Siteplanning test. To block the wind, can you use a Deciduous tree or must you use a Coniferous tree?

  23. Mike January 4, 2017 at 11:04 am #

    Hi Tony,

    I need to take 5.0 PPD & PDD. Do you plan on posting notes such as “Caroline’s Notes” that you had posted for the various 4.0 exams for either of those sections? I found those notes to be some of the best resources in studying for the 4.0 sections. If so any idea when? Thanks

  24. Stephen October 17, 2016 at 9:30 pm #

    Hi Tony,
    Any updates on the SS exam ? If there’s an expected release date ? Thanks

  25. DesignerHacks October 4, 2016 at 12:11 pm #


    We are releasing practice exams for the SS exam later this fall.


  26. Paige October 4, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    Will you have SS questions on here at some point?

  27. Daniel September 9, 2016 at 8:47 am #

    Great post, very helpful with the lists of suggested materials, I just passed CDs in July and am taking PPP in November so I definitely needed the list.

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