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I made the black tattoos on the model on the left by sliding vertices and coloring the faces. Of course this messed up the topology of the face (which I would like to animate). I've been trying to use texture painting to achieve the same look of the model on the left on the model on the right without sliding the vertices and messing up my topology. I can't figure out how to do this. I've come close, but I'm sure there is some concept concerning texture painting that I don't understand that keeps me from getting the result I want. How do I make these black tattoos without messing up the topology using nodes in cycles?

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If you want to do this with Blender texture painting, use the stencil brush mode:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gacSqM7kHGg

Stencil will allow you to "spray through" a 2D image to project it's patterns onto the mesh.

To back up to a more general sense, the way I'd approach this is to build the tattoos marks on a 2D sheet using your drawing/image editing tool of choice (Illustrator, GIMP, Photoshop, whatever). Then you can either use a projection tool (like Blender's stencil paint or the projection brush in Substance Painter) to spray the appropriate symbols into place. Symmetry can help you keep them even on each side. Alternately, you can lay the symbols into place in a 2D editor, but this requires a UV sheet free of distortion and with seams out of the way (such as the back of the head).

Doing this via a texture will also allow you to use a lower resolution face mesh, as you might find the one in your file tricky to weight paint and set up shape keys for.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the info, @JtheNinja. But the tutorial you linked to does not use nodes and is in BI - not cycles. The render engine probably doesn't matter, but I can't figure out how to use my node setup as the paint in texture paint mode. Can you tell me how to do that? $\endgroup$ – Fletch Oct 29 '16 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ Yep, in the end you're just attaching a texture to your shader, so the only difference is the UI while you're painting. This video has a good explanation of how to do it in Cycles: youtu.be/LcCQKuWPhXk Short text version: the image node you have highlighted in the node graph is the one that gets painted into. Don't forget to manually save it! $\endgroup$ – JtheNinja Oct 29 '16 at 18:12
  • $\begingroup$ In the second video, he is painting with colors from the texture paint toolbar - not with the nodes in his node editor (or maybe I'm missing something). I want to paint with my nodes - not the diffuse colors in the toolbar. I'm sure there's some idea that I'm missing here. I appreciate any more advise you (@JtheNinja or anyone else) might be able to offer. $\endgroup$ – Fletch Oct 29 '16 at 19:04
  • $\begingroup$ Not sure what you mean by "paint with nodes" You don't paint patterns with nodes, that's not what they're for. Do you want to paint specific sockets in your node graph? Then you'd create the appropriate image textures and paint them individually. $\endgroup$ – JtheNinja Oct 30 '16 at 2:41
  • $\begingroup$ I would like to use the Red_skin_102 material node group that I created to paint the red part of his face and the Black Tattoo material node group to paint the black part of his face. Does that count as painting patterns? Thanks for your help, @JtheNinja. $\endgroup$ – Fletch Nov 1 '16 at 17:32
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I finally figured it out with the help of someone at Blender Discord. I used texture painting and the node setup below. The key is the RGB to BW node. This allowed me to paint two separate materials onto one quad face. I appreciate your help, @JtheNinja. Node setup for texture painting

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    $\begingroup$ The RGB to BW node shouldn't be necessary, Cycles should apply one internally automatically when you attach a color (yellow socket) to a float input (gray socket). It's just a legacy feature leftover from before that was available. If you've found a situation in the current version where it's necessary, you may want to report it as a bug. $\endgroup$ – JtheNinja Nov 4 '16 at 23:43
  • $\begingroup$ So, @JtheNinja, I could just delete the RGB to BW node and attach the Color from the Image Texture node to the Fac input of the Mix Shader and get the same result? $\endgroup$ – Fletch Nov 5 '16 at 18:28
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    $\begingroup$ Correct. Early versions of Cycles this wouldn't have worked, and that's what the RGB to BW node was created for. Modern-day Cycles essentially just adds it for you internally. The node is only still around to avoid breaking old scene files that use it. (AFAIK, anyway) $\endgroup$ – JtheNinja Nov 6 '16 at 0:56

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