View Full Version : Rendering Normal Maps- The Final Answer??

12 December 2005, 09:15 PM
Okay, I've been through dozens of posts from users here on cgtalk (as well as others) looking for the best way to render a normal mapped character using Maya software. I've seen shader networks, utilities, scripts, and virtually every other way people have tried to do this. I know it can be done- I've seen it on demo reels at work and on here. But how?

My hardware render doesnt work because of a graphics card issue, and every time I render using the "plug the outcolor into the normalCamera node" trick, my normal maps look washed out and hardly as detailed as they were when created in ZBrush. Since there are tons of people on here who are having this problem, I thought maybe people could share their secrets on here?

thanks from all of us who have been beating our heads against the wall!:banghead:

12 December 2005, 10:44 PM
I've been doing this in maya for some time, this is the most basic description I have

hope it helps.

12 December 2005, 11:31 PM
Thanks Chris-

This is the method I have been using as well- the "outColor into the normalCamera" method, which works great if you have High Quality Rendering available. But myself, like many others, dont:sad: (crappy graphics card, no HW render available). I know I have seen cinematics with normal mapped characters that appear to be software rendered, but is there any way to do this? The normalCamera method looks washed out when SW rendered.

Any thoughts??

12 December 2005, 08:22 AM
just use maya7 and turn on the tangent normalmap option in the bumpmap channel :)

12 December 2005, 04:18 PM
or if you r using maya 6.5, just get jsnormaliser for mental ray to render normal maps with mental ray..

plus your normal map to tex of the jsnormaliser and the out color of jsnormaliser to the normal camera of the material...

in maya 7, u can use the bump map thing, but it never gave me satisfactory results..

or just get turtle 2.1 for maya ( to render normal map.. its awesome


12 December 2005, 05:21 PM
Thanks Rocky! I've heard of the jsnormaliser utility, but never tried that one. I'll download it tonight and check it out. If not, I'll try that turtle 2.1. As you can see, I've been trying everything to get this to work, and so far I've been getting mediocre results :sad:

Unfortunately I don't know much about mental ray, but that something i been looking for an excuse to get into so I guess now's the time! Must it be rendered in MR to work?

12 December 2005, 10:53 AM
I've been trying to figure out the same thing myself lately, so I feel your pain. :sad:

Some stuff I ran across that might help-
The aforementioned JS-normaliser (now called JS_NormalMapper, which is why it doesn't show up on google :P) is here:
Unfortunatley that didn't work for me because I've got 7 instead of 6.5, so...

This doesn't work for MR, but it seems to work pretty decently- for some reason I had to use the "Invert Y" box for it to work right, but once I figured that out it was smooth sailing.

12 December 2005, 05:05 PM
Thanks Angel of Bacon! I've got 6.5 right now so I'm gonan try out the jsnormaliser this weekend. Hopefully this will sove the problem!

I've also heard of something you can download in the MEL section of ( that acts as a 3D Bump Node for normal mapping, but havent tried it myself- I think it may be for Maya 6.:sad: Also you need to download the entire shelf this guy created, most of which are tools I don't really use for game art.

If anyone has found anything else, please post em!!

01 January 2006, 05:56 PM
I was pulling my hair out over this one too, this question has been asked so many times. The methods that have been mentioned work OK but the details look a bit crap when you compare them to the Zbrush model.

I eventually gave up trying to find out on forums and bought the Zbrush pipeline from Gnomon - its worth every penny

Now I use the Headus shader network. You basically just download it from here...

It comes as a.mb file. You just open up the Hypershade window, File>Import the shader and stick your normal map into the file node. Theres usually a wee bit of tweaking to do but its given me the best results.

Hope thats a help man:shrug:

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