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What's an efficient way to make a knurled pattern on any surface? I am able to get great results on a simple square surface, but when it comes to anything else it becomes very tricky.

Here's what I made on a simple square surface: enter image description here

Here's my best attempt on a circular surface. I had to make the pattern on a square surface, then do a knife project to cut out a circle. Then I just put a cylinder behind it...

enter image description here

Here's what I'm modeling. End goal is a game ready asset. These patterns will be used to bake a normal

enter image description here

Any tips would be very appreciated! I'm doing the mag eject button, still need the trigger, safety, and slide release. Would be great to have a better way of doing this to save time.

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    $\begingroup$ Since this is a geometrical pattern, did you try using a displacement map? you can prepare the pattern in a graphic app "like Illustrator" then apply it as a displacement map after unwrapping the object. Another method is using texture mask in Sculpting Mode, then use a large scale brush to make the unmasked mesh bump out. Of course you need to have a Multires Modifier applied first. $\endgroup$ – Georges Dec 24 '15 at 0:20
  • $\begingroup$ Hi, I had mixed results with your methods. But in doing what you suggested, I learned a lot more about map textures in general and found a solution that works for me. Basically, I'm just making the normal from a simple shape as usual, and then copy/pasting that normal to other parts of the UV :) $\endgroup$ – ethosium Dec 24 '15 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that's a clever way to mix both methods ;) $\endgroup$ – Georges Dec 25 '15 at 19:50
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You could make an inverted pattern that's gonna boolean cut the surface you are going to use. enter image description here Then after using it as boolean cut over the surface you want to get that pattern on.

Keep in mind that the pattern you are going to use to cut out the pattern on the object needs to be the inverted version of the pattern. Holes in the object are standing cylinders on your pattern cut-object.

On curved surfaces you could use array and curve modifiers to use the boolean over the surface like so: enter image description here The boolean modifier should be applied to the object that's going to have the end result of the pattern. And the operation should be "difference". This method works for all surfaces you would like to use.

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