Is texturing without UV’s possible? It is, in a number of ways. Disney’s Ptex held out the promise of working in 3D without the need for UV’s. Although many applications will offer support for Ptex, its use isn’t as widely used as users would like. Ptex aside, there are other ways to texture a model without actually having UV’s present in that model.
As an example of this, Lead Technical Artist at Naughty Dog, Christophe Desse shows how. Using Maya’s TriPlanar and planar projections, and Redshift’s Curvature Node, along with Substance Painter, Christophe walks through a recently texture model using a no-UV method.
Maya Has a couple of projection methods, and a recent one is the TriPlanar. It can extrude the texture along the axis defined, and includes that direction of the surface normal. This lets you essentially “wrap” a texture around an object to an extent. For all more simple projections on flat surfaces, a planar projection will do handily.
Christophe makes note that he is using Redshift in the example, hence the use of Redshift’s Curvature node. Other renderers will have a node that can be used similarly, and other 3D application have triplanar projections. So the techniques are a foundation that can be used with other workflows.