Take control of your materials Part 8: normal maps

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Take control of your materials Part 8: normal maps

Postby Kimberly58 » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:06 am


Last week we looked into the role of bump maps and what they do. Today we are going to look into the fascinating world of Normal Maps.

Normal Maps, NMs for short, are special cases of the bump map. They are very similar in function but with a twist: they hold more precise information on how to create the shading that simulates dents and bumps on the surface.

The limitation of the bump map is that it is a grayscale height map that describes the roughness of the surface. There are limitations in resolution and precision in using bump maps, so normal maps have been devised. Before we look in detail at the NMs, it’s important that we understand what a “surface normal” is. We know that the models that we use are made of polygons. Each polygon is defined in space by 3 or 4 vertices. Each vertex is defined by 3 coordinates: x, y, and z. In the Poser/DAZ Studio world the Y axis is up and the Z axis defines depth.

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