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People usually use uv map to color their models. But I found videos where people only use "Materials" for coloring.

For example: https://youtu.be/jBeRreVLtE4. On 9:35 they used only "Materials" to paint without uv map.

Or https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhEFRhEnz05sfcqDU_stZR2gxoP2cTzj-. She also used only materials for model.

As I know people use uv map/textures/shader to diversify their models' view and uv map is necessarily used for importing in games.

So can I use only "Materials" to paint my models if

  1. I will use only flat colors (as the videos above)
  2. I don't need to import a model in the game
  3. I want to share model on social media like illustration/image
  4. I want to export model in .fbx file format to share with someone
  5. I want to render model in Blender Cycles (on the second YouTube video she used Blender Render)
  6. I want to rig model and maybe to make animation
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    $\begingroup$ Absolutely. The UV map is just one tool in the kit. $\endgroup$ May 28, 2021 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ Especially if you only use a single colour. $\endgroup$
    – Joachim
    May 28, 2021 at 20:56

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A "Material" is basically instructions for a renderer, and in most cases the materials are very specific to a certain renderer. In the case of Blender, Eevee might render the same as Cycles, but not always. In general, a Material will not work outside of its native program. These Material instructions tell the renderer how to color and shade the surface. The color can be either a simple flat color, or a complicated set of nodes that make detailed surfaces like wood, scratched metal, or simply an image. The Material settings typically define things like color, reflections, or how bumpy something is.

UV mapping is a set of coordinates to relate a 3D model to a flat image. In essence you're just saying "this point here on this model maps to that point there on that image." That's how the 3D program knows where to put a texture map on a model. Otherwise, the program has no idea how to wrap a texture around a 3D model.

UV coordinates, being simply numbers, are easily translated when you export a model from Blender to, say, .fbx, or importing a model INTO Blender. The coordinates of all the vertices and the UV mappings keep their relationship, so you can apply an image in a game or other program and it still looks correct.

However, as I mentioned before, a Material doesn't translate easily. Unity has no idea what to do with Blender materials. Blender has no idea how Mental Ray, Octane, etc. work.

In your list:

I will use only flat colors (as the videos above)

  • no. You can make quite complicated Materials in Blender without using textures or UV mapping. For example:

enter image description here

I don't need to import a model in the game

  • yes. a game will have a different renderer than Blender and won't know what to do with your Material settings.

I want to share model on social media like illustration/image

  • depends. If you share a model on a Blender site like BlendSwap, you can use Materials, or if you know your consumers will use Blender.

I want to export model in .fbx file format to share with someone

  • no. You could only use a UV-mapped image.

I want to render model in Blender Cycles (on the second YouTube video she used Blender Render)

  • yes. Cycles can handle complex materials.

I want to rig model and maybe to make animation

  • yes, as long as you render it within Cycles (or Eevee, or Blender renderer)

HOWEVER - you can certainly "bake" a Cycles material into a UV mapped texture and then use it as if were an image. The material won't, by default, stay on an exported model. See this answer for detailed info on baking: Export cycles material to unity

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Yes you can. In blender, materials created that was are called procedural materials, and there are many many tutorials available on how to create them. There's even an entire Facebook group dedicated to procedural materials -- sometimes called procedural textures.

You can even mix the two approaches. Here's a screen shot of a material I've created a few minutes ago:

mixed approach to materials

Don't worry about trying to understand it, except to notice that it looks a lot harder than it really is, because it is an unfamiliar way of doing things. Here's the object the material is applied to:

robot head with mixed procedural material

The eyes, nose, "rivets" and mouth are all from the "Head decal" texture, using the UV map. The spotty gray areas and the slight yellow around the edges are from the procedural part of the texture.

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Yes, you can definitely colorize a mesh using only materials. I recommend checking out this video on the cycles node editor. You can also use the right panel materials tab. Using materials with no UV map might not render as photo-realistically, but since you said you would be using flat colors, that shouldn't be too much of a problem. Good luck!

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  • $\begingroup$ I have another question. If someone wants to open the model in another software or blender, will the color remain on the model? Or color will disappear if uv map is not used? $\endgroup$
    – Xxx
    May 29, 2021 at 3:58
  • $\begingroup$ If you have the material in the .blend file (like default) and you share the .blend file, someone else opening it in blender will be able to see the color in texture/render views.I don't personally use other 3D programs, but I believe that you can import the materials as well as the model and it should automatically connect. Again, don't quote me on that. $\endgroup$ May 29, 2021 at 16:29

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