I decided to jump right in the deep end at first, rather than refreshing my memory about the mapping knowledge that I already had, I decided to go straight to the areas that I'm unfamiliar with. I opened up a commercial rig called 'Max for Maya' in Maya 2010 and straight away started Planar projecting on the characters head, i wanted to start on a smaller part of the body so that I could quickly export the UV maps into photoshop as soon as possible and do some tests. The images below show the steps I went through to get to the finished result. Along the way I used the following tutorial to help me when I got stuck on certain areas http://www.jawa9000.com/Technical/UVs/UVs.htm
This image shows the first steps, I did a planar projection of the head which unwrapped the whole head in the uv texture editor, I was only expecting it to make a projection from the front of the head because that is all thats visible in the camera port so this is a problem that I need to try and sort out because it makes the map messy around high poly areas such as the mouth and ears.
When I created the planar projection for the UV map it also mapped out some of the separate geometry of the inner mouth which turned out to be the teeth. I made a UV snapshot in the texture editor so that I could export the file into photoshop so that i could make my own texture. The model itself is already has a basic colour 'Blinn' material assigned as its shader so whatever I do will have to overwrite that material.
This is the UV map that I exported out of Maya into Photoshop. The top image is of the head which is completely unwrapped, the bottom one is of the teeth which as you can see are overly complicated due to the way the planar projection mapped the whole object rather than just the part I wanted it to.
In photoshop I arranged my layers so that the UV map is the top layer and then I colour underneath, For experimentations sake I didn't go into detail whilst colouring, I literally spent less than a minute adding a quick paint job and a little criss-cross scar detail on the cheek area to see how the detail turns out in maya when the texture is exported. Before exporting it back out of photoshop I turned off the UV map layer, if it's left on then when you apply the texture to the model you will se the map over the top of the model.
This is the finished texture which will go back into Maya, it's very basic and doesn't need much detail, the main purpose of this test is just to see if the map properly wraps around the geometry of the character in Maya.
This is the final result, the texture applied to the head rather well, however it somehow scattered onto parts of the neck and the nose and eyelids need to be textured separately because of the way the model was set up with the render materials by the original creator. What I found was that the whole body including the head, even though the head and the body are separate objects in the mesh, they still share the same 'Blinn' material so when I applied the new texture to the head, it also tried to apply it to the body which explains the random placement of colour of the characters body.
After I applied the texture I started trying to figure out how to use the planar projection tool properly so that I can create more accurate UV maps. At first I tried altering the controls of the planar projection tool in Maya to see if it made any difference to the mapping in the UV texture editor, the results were minimal and did not make much of a difference. After that I quickly tried an idea that I had, I selected the faces of the geometry first and then used the planar projection tool to create the map, I wasn't sure what to expect when I did this but it turned out to be incredibly useful; the planar projection tool only made a projection of the faces that I selected instead of selecting the entire geometry like it did before, this finding has been very helpful because now I know that I can have total control over the maps and how I make them in Maya which is great for more complex models and geometry.
Now that i've figured out an effective way to unwrap the geometry in the UV editor, i'm going to keep on practicing with it and try to fully unwrap a character, create the texture in photoshop and then apply the texture back on to the model to make sure I can work through the entire process without encountering any problems, and if I do get any then I will have the knowledge on how to solve them without being delayed or stuck for too long.