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since some people have some utter problems figuring these out ill throw in some things ive learned about that problem and clear or some already, lets say tedious attempts to create normal maps, by other members ( sorry smile_o.gif )


ill split this here into a weekly episode and itll get more advanced as it continous.

ill try to cover everthing i know about this.

photo-sourcing, reference models, and post prod. / comp

each friday ill post something new here so you folks can try it out yourself over the weekend.

this friday´s tute will handle photo-based normal maps.

how to extract them

how to enhance them

and how to make them look good!

and most of all

how to get them done properly and most easy!

here´s some teasers!




all you need is photoshop and a 3d app of your choice.

ill use 3ds Max and/or Modo

if you have whishes please dump em here and ill try to do my very best smile_o.gif



btw why arent those dumb thumbnails not workin? did some naughty mod disable it?? placebo??? biggrin_o.gif

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So basically what you're doing is telling everyone how do things in via a forum topic, whereas you could easily put it into a PDF tutorial and have it uploaded everywhere, with my in depth possibilities.

Also, what happens if i don't have photoshop or 3DS max, yet want to do this?

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im not telling im just sharing my knowledge..

yes i could write a pdf but..

a) im lazy.. (believe me ive tried making a full coverd tutorial but i gave up at the 2nd page *blush*)

b) ive absolutally got no clue how to make pdfs XD

c) people might have questions and a forum might be a better idea cause maybe others have the same questions/probs and i dont want to answere the same questions over and over again ( like i did in the past.. sheesh..)


this tute here will be more generic.

it doesnt really depend what you are working with in the end.

its just that some things arent available for certain apps.

eg the normal map plugin for photo chop.

but ill cover Xnormal and crazy bump aswell if its needed..

same goes for the 3d apps..

i own modo and max but i dont know jack about maya..

so i cant give you advise on that...


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Well, let me be the first to say "Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge" rather than complaining about format or location. smile_o.gif

I'm looking forward to seeing what you have to say.


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damn col. faulkner youre actually right

but on the other side :/


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Moving where it belongs to.

I could tell you how to make the images visible but... all 3 pictures are over 100kb so you would break the rules. wink_o.gif

Suggestion: Make smaller pictures of these you use as preview here and then put a link below each of these smaller pictures to the detailed ones.

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thx wolle...

mustve accidentally posted it here in a fly of temporary stupidnes XD

yea i wanted to submit them as thumbnails like other peops do but it didnt work... hmm

it worked before...


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well, at last some good ideas smile_o.gif thank you nephilim, I will be waiting

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Thanks Neph, I'm, for one, looking forward to it - I have NO painiting skills but I'm trying hard to improve - so, yeah, can't wait! notworthy.gif

Thanks for sharing your knowledge! yay.gif

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Will be keeping a eye on the topic Nephilim, wink_o.gif Look forward to your input

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Really nice move nephilim, its always helpfull to everyone who "dares" to learn texturing. We appreciate it!!

From the 3 pics u posted i presume you'll be focusing in stone/ground materials, applied to flat surfaces.Is that right?

What about uv's layouts? from my experience on this, normal maps usually create artifacts when the model is shaded, derived of overlapping uv's, usually caused by trying to stuff the maximum polys in the minimum space of texture possible. if ur working in a 2048X2048 texture it's not an issue, but in a 512X512 texture it's very often...

Anyways this gonna be an interesting thread to follow, good luck with it, and thanks again.

(About creating a pdf...if ur using word or open office, there's a "save as PDF" option in the File menu...)

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ill cover overlapping and mirroring, but in the later tutorials since its more advanced.

and no i just wont cover ground textures

but these will just be an example.


(word! DOH!!wink_o.gif

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Love it neph .... and no, not everything belongs in a PDF ! wink_o.gif

Looking forward to some learnings from one of our local experts thumbs-up.gif

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ok guys heres some more teaser.

we´ll do gravel tomorrow smile_o.gif

pretty cool gravel biggrin_o.gif




heres some pics smile_o.gif


this is how a normal map looks liek directly calculated from a image.

seen it often here

does look pretty flat and not really spectacular..

and this:


is how it SHOULD look like.

and a lil video with the NM and diffuse map applied.


cheers wink_o.gif

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wow someone writing a tut who doesnt know how to create pdf´s and cant remember the forum rules or the correct forum to post in. this will be fun tounge2.gif

honestly, some help on normal maps is really appreciated, cant wait to do the gravel. notworthy.gif

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who needs pdfs and rules :P

its so old fashioned  tounge2.gif

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who needs pdfs and rules :P

its so old fashioned   tounge2.gif

ffs, it's for the matter of realism! rofl.gif

just looking forward for tuts. thumbs-up.gif

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ok lets start here.

this friday ill show you how to create and enhence your photo-sources normal maps.

i´m gonna start simple

here´s what we´ll use.


nice gravel smile_o.gif

the texture can be found on mayang.com/textures

usually people seem to take a photo and run it through the normal map photo shop filter.

the result will usually look like this:



3dsMax, Normal map only:


3dsMax, Normal and Diffuse:


doesnt look really cool huh?

more like a cheap wallpaper you can buy in your local walmart.

but why is that so.

lets take a deeper look into the source image.

for that we desaturate it.


ok now the pic´s black and white. and now?

it tells us quite alot!

normal maps are commonly refered as bump maps on steroids.

specially if you create them via photoshop.

generally speaking white areas are the peaks and dark areas are the valleys.

as you can see in the image some stones are black.

would make much sense having these caving inside whilst their actual geometry is described with a convex shape.

ok so how to we solve this?

increase the samples in the plugin. hmm lets try this:




looks better but still they appear flat

so what do we do??

we gonna do what the plugin does but manually

MANUALLY?? yes manually

but we´ll use some trickery to get what we want smile_o.gif

ok as i said earlier on the B/W image tells us alot about the geometry

BUT since some things like stones (or whatever) can be black we´re having a problem :/

so what now? hang us? no..

open up your image and then click on

Image>Mode> LAB-Channel.


ok what the heck is LAB channel???

lab channel is something quite nice!

it saves us a luminocity channel!


see the difference?

ok some might say hey i could crank up the brightnes to get that

well.. it might work in some cases in others not...

that my approach and youre free to follow or not.


but still we have some stones that are dark due their color.

we do not want that. what we aim for is to get something similar to a bump map that just describes the height!

so we need to elimate these folks smile_o.gif


for this i took the LAB channel and pasted it into a new image

and then collapsed it down and converted into an average RGB.

also as we just want to describe the actual geometry i bluerd the image a bit to get rid off all those small

nooks and crannies. we will need them but not right now.

next step is to basically paint over some stones, preferably the dark ones to give them more height.

you can use the dodge and burn tools or just paint with black and white and blend them, what ever serves you.

also i cranked the contrast a to get better peaks and valleys.



but wheres the normal map fun??

here it comes

save that B/W image and run the normal map filter with it

as settings i used : height generation 4 sample

scale 5

height source: average RGB

anything else isnt important.

ok now we have a normal map

it looks cool but still not awesome smile_o.gif

here comes the trickery. its simple if you know how to do it heheh and its not really magic.

what you do is the following.

duplicate, set blend mode to overlay, blur,

duplicate, set blend mode to overlay, blur,

duplicate, set blend mode to overlay, blur,

duplicate, set blend mode to overlay, blur,

duplicate, set blend mode to overlay, blur,

duplicate, set blend mode to overlay, blur,

etc etc.

yes thats all!

duplicate copies the normal map and setting it to blend mode somewhat doubles the "height"

blurring allows you do get smoother transistions.

now that youve youve done this

merge all layers down

and eventually use the smoothing brush to get some nasty edged stones smooth.

ok now we have a geometry describing normal map.

but it doesnt have any detail! all the scratches are gone! NEPHILIM IS A LIAR *DIE**HATE*!


remember the other crappy normal map we got previously?

load it up and copy it into the "cool" normal map and set it to overlay blend mode

youll get this:


now that looks cool!

and much better than the crappy normal map we previously had.

as a last step we merge it all down and fire up the normal map filter again and go into Alternate Conversions and set it to

Normalize only.

during the copy/paste/blend process some channels get messed up slightly

this option fixes it. so dont forget that!

so heres how it looks in action

just the diffuse, normal map, and some hard specularity to get a wet look:


no magic, no clumsy messing with the normal maps channels

i admit i couldve done better with this normal map.

but i just want to give you a glimpse on what can be done with some extra effort!


layer your normal maps and blend them with other images.

you´ll get far better results!

here´s another texture ive done on the fly using the similar techique.

bad : http://rapidshare.com/files/74882961/2_bad.avi.html

good : http://rapidshare.com/files/74883090/2.avi.html

ok folks

next friday ill cover hi poly reference models and of course show some dirty tricks smile_o.gif

hope you enjoyed reading.

im of course open for critics and suggestions!


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Hey, nice work. I thougth it was obvious that you need a height map to make a normal map but apparently not everyone knew that.

I think you've omitted the fact that ArmA uses inverted Y axis, but I don't see this mistake lately so maybe people discovered it on their own.

Waiting for that next tutorial of yours, I could use some dirty tricks in that field wink_o.gif.

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yea well its just a general idea smile_o.gif

can be applied to anything.

sometimes you dont need to do that height map thing

eg if you do some scratches or just convert a dirt map to get some surface detail you dont need extra height maps

its the same as i showed with the "bad" normal map of those pebbles.

for geometry its bad for details its cool.

as far as the y-axis

just go into the channels and invert it


weird tho...

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Great and easy to do tut. Thanks for this neph.

I need to try this right now smile_o.gif


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Much appreciated! thumbs-up.gif

Amazing how many people have "bought" photoshop... icon_rolleyes.gif

Just in case there are others like me who don't have it, I was able to recreate this tutorial with GIMP and this plugin.

Looking forward to the next installment of your weekly series!

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very nice nephilim!

i had to try it with complete different tools, (psp7 and crazybump for the basic normal), the methods you describe work independent from the tools used, really some nice tricks, f.e. running an effect again and again, instead of undo and increase the effect is something i never tried, something i dont even spent a thought about.

adobe should buy those paint shop pro guys, just to make it easier for the inexperienced user to determinate wich software he

owns, photo shop or just a crappy paint shop. and i wondered why the screens look so totally different whistle.gif

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