Decals In Boxshot

Decal is a small piece of artwork placed somewhere on 3D model, so it follows its shape. You can think it is glued up to the object. Examples of decals would be labels, stickers, stamps and so on.

In real life you need quite a smooth surface to apply a decal evenly. For instance, you can easily put it on a flat plane or an edge of the box, but can't apply it to the corner of the box, as some parts of decal will not fit the surface. That's why they are pretty hard to simulate, so there are limitations on where you can apply them without distortion in Boxshot.

Boxshot assumes that decal is relatively small, compared to the shape and that the surface where it is applied is relatively smooth. Boxshot tries to compensate all the surface features by stretching decals, but if the surface is not smooth enough, there will be artifacts.

Consider using decals if you need to put a small artwork somewhere on a smooth surface. If the artwork is not small or surface is not smooth enough - use standard Boxshot approach with applying artwork as texture instead or place the decal somewhere else. A good example of decals would be a logo on a mug or small label on a bottle. However, if you need to wrap label around, you'd probably better using the dedicated Label shape for that.

Also note that decals are not available in Boxshot Home, you need at least Boxshot Professional in order to use them.

Placing Decals

Let's start with a simple scene of a tea mug:

And make it a "zombie" mug using one the built-in decal stickers. Open the Assets panel at the left, select "Decals" in the drop-down list and scroll down to the zombie-related stickers:

Now drag the sticker onto the mug as you usually drag textures. A popup menu will appear with possible texture slots and also the decal option you need at the bottom:

Click Place Decal and see it is added to the mug:

Congratulations on your first decal!

Decals Panel

You see the decals panel at the right. It is pretty much like materials panel, but instead it displays decals applied to the currently selected shape. Boxshot does not limit the number of decals you can apply and tries to place them that way, so they don't affect each other with z-fighting.

The list at the top lets you select a decal, while the properties panel at the bottom helps you to configure its parameters. You can rename and delete decals with right mouse button clicked on decal in the list.

The properties panel lets you modify width and height of the decal (measured in centimeters), but it is better to simply click Fit to image button and Boxshot will automatically resize the decal to the artwork dimensions like it does for most of the shapes.

If the decal is too big or too small for the shape, you can adjust it using Scale parameter: "1.00" means 100%, so setting the scale to "2" means making it twice bigger than in real life.

Finally, Rotation parameter lets you rotate the selected decal around its center. Sometimes you may need this for design reasons, sometimes it helps to place decals properly.

The rest parameters are pretty similar to the one you have in materials, so we'll not cover them too much in this tutorial. The only big difference to materials is that transparent areas of decals don't reflect light, even if reflection is set to maximum. For decals Boxshot simply lets the light go down to the shape instead of reflecting it. That's what you probably expect from a decal, so no surprises here.

Make It Metallic

Let's make our decal more interesting by converting it to a metallic one. Metallic objects reflect, so let's move the reflection slider up to 100%:

You see that our decal is now converted to foil. There is no image on it, as everything that was opaque in the original image is now completely reflective. Let's set our original image to the reflection level mask slot to make the decal looks better:

It now looks like a metallic sticker. You can combine image, reflection and blur masks to make foil and uv-spot effects for decals as you do it for materials.

Moving Decals Around

The simplest way to move a decal is to drag it by its handle (the small magenta disk in its center). Boxshot will automatically apply the decal to the position you move it in.

Another way you can move a decal is to grab it in the list in the decals panel and drag onto the shape. If you drag it onto the same shape, Boxshot will apply it there. If you drag it to a different shape, Boxshot will make a copy and place the copy onto that another shape.

Troubleshooting

There are two types of issues you may have with decals: distortion and disappearing.

Decals Distortion

As mentioned above, decals may look distorted if the surface they applied to is not even. Sometimes the surface might be even, but underlying geometry is way too complex for Boxshot to compute decal. Feel free to share such projects with us, as it helps to improve the software, but the best short-term solution is to avoid using decals on that surface and replace them with a texture or a separate shape.

Another reason why decals may look distorted is that they are not a "local" feature of the shape. For instance you may try to make a wrapping bottle label using decals. It might work to some extent, but when you try to match the label's ends behind the bottle, decal will most likely be distorted. To avoid this keep decals local and consider using other built-in shapes or standard textures for placing your artwork.

Decals Disappearing

Decals may disappear if you drag them away from the shape. This can be easily fixed by locating them in the list in decals panel and dragging them back.

Another possible reason is the significant change of the shape, so Boxshot can't be sure about the proper location of decal. In such case Boxshot hides decals, but they can be placed back exactly the same way: by locating them in the list and dragging them back.

Summary

You've just learned to apply decals and modify their parameters. You have also known how to move and delete them and what to do if they disappear or get distorted. The last thing is that you don't really need to limit yourself with the built-in graphics: just drag your own artwork to a shape, select Place Decal and see what happens. Do not forget to use Scale parameter if it looks too big.

That is all, now it is your turn to make something cool :)

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