Normal Mapping for Games

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  04 April 2004
Where do you enable those in max 6?
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  04 April 2004
This is a bit off topic and probably belongs in the Max specific forum, but here goes anyway:

I don't have Max 6 but I think I can help. Like dom said, the first thing you need to do is make sure that your video driver is set to Direct3D and DX9. You can do that in the Customize/Preferences panel under the Viewports Tab. Just click the "Choose Driver" button and then choose Direct3D as your driver. You have to restart Max in order for the change to take affect.

Now open your materials editor. There should be a new roll-out down at the bottom called "Viewport Manager." This roll-out allows you to use custom real-time shaders on your models. Choose the one you want from the drop down box and click the "enable" check box. Now assign the material to your model. I can't give any more details than that since I don't have Max 6, like I said.

If you need a better description of the steps above, you can find it here:

http://www.monitorstudios.com/bclow...rmal_maps6.html
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Ben Cloward
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  04 April 2004
To bcloward:

I've been to ur site and ur normal mapping tutorial is great, but there are some very confusing parts. First off where can I get a NMF exporter for Max 6 seeing as it doesn't read the old Max 5 exporter plug-in. Also one of the links on the last page of ur site for the extended version of ATi's NormalMapper program has no directions of any kind on his site, nor does the zip have any directions for how to install it. I know that isn't ur job, but knowing how to use this one with the ability to use obj will get around the entire NMF problem for max 6 at this point.

Just generally please be a bit more specific when it comes to what is needed to be downloaded from ATi's site, cause I didn't know, this might have just been me, that you needed to download all 3 normal mapping zips on there.

I'm not trying to bitch or anything, cause ur tutorial is probably the most comprehensive of all I've seen, but the few bits of vaugness really are frustrating.

Hope to get a response soon so I can start testing out the coolness of normal mapping!
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  04 April 2004
First of all, did you get your "viewing normal maps in Max" issue solved? I like to work on one issue at a time. :0)

So - the other issues you bring up have some pretty easy answers.

1. No NMF exporter for Max 6.
You're right. Right now there is no NMF exporter for Max 6. I think it would be a good idea to email ATi and request one. They're probably working on it. It's been my impression that the NormalMapper software is updated at least once a month so you may get the Max 6 version sooner than you think.

2. The "Michael Bunnell OBJ version" of NormalMapper has no instructions and I don't know how to install it.
You don't need to install this software. Just unzip it to the folder of your choice. I put mine in C:/Program Files/NormalMapper because that made sense to me. This is the exact same program as the ATi version except it reads OBJ format so the same instructioons you got with the ATi version apply with this one as well. Just substitute the names of the OBJ files you export for the NMF ones.

3. I'll edit my link to ATi's site to make it more clear exactly what is needed.

Thanks a lot for the feedback!

As a side note, since I wrote the tutorial, Nvidia has released their "MeLODy" program that also creates Normal Maps. It has a much more user friendly interface and uses the 3DS format instead of NMF. That might be easier for you. Check it out here:

http://developer.nvidia.com/object/melody_home.html

Some day I want to add a "Part 2" to the tutorial that has some instructions for using Melody as well, but as it is now, the 12 hour days at work leave me little extra time for web site addtions.

Good luck!
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  04 April 2004
I would so love to use Melody, but I'm one of those retards stuck with a GeForce 4 Ti 4200. I'm thinking of getting a new FX based card, but I really don't want to if I don't have to.

I've gotten the altered ati normal mapper with obj support, but it wont generate a normal map, its just either a back or grey flat area on the tga. I do know how to get them to view in max 6, but I still can't seem to get the obj one to work properly. I think I will contact ATI to see what they can do.

Actually I just found how to get it to render in max 6. In the direcx shader drop down, hit the check mark for synch standard material and it'll render in 6.

Thanks
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Last edited by Gyzer : 04 April 2004 at 07:35 AM.
 
  04 April 2004
Here's a mirror of Mike Bunnell's tool... shows the history, which gives you some of the new cmd-line syntax...
http://www.seanomlor.com/mikeb/
 
  04 April 2004
Hey guys, got a minute to spare? My normal maps appear to have seams when i apply it to the model. The seams run along the perimeter of uvw coordinates. Im using max6 for previewing purposes and kaldera to export my normals. Any idea what could be causing these seams?
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  04 April 2004
From what i've seen and heard, u'll just have to take it into photoshop and and clone stamp the seames, thats probably the best way to do it.


I just got a FX based card and I've been messing with melody, I think I've got it working but it's been doing some strange maps, but I've just been normal mapping boxes ;-)
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  04 April 2004
The seams are from an inferior implementation of the viewport display method for normal maps. There is some code on the Nvidia site that helps solve the problem, on the rendering side, not by having to paint out seams.

Here's a PDF file with some info.
http://developer.nvidia.com/attach/3534

Fixing Texture Mirroring
To fix this type of problem, you need to duplicate
triangle edges ( ie two vertices ) before smoothing
the texture gradients
...
All of these problems are solved by our free library,
the NVMeshMender
...
If our tool doesn’t do what you need, let us know
We have a dedicated tools group whose job it is to
assist you with this!
We can write plugins, batch tools, etc. to speed your
development process


They are indeed very helpful. Unfortunately NVMeshMender is a post-processing tool, it needs to spit out new mesh.

Maybe try writing a Cg shader to address the previewing problem...?
 
  04 April 2004
Tks Gyzer/Eric.

Eric, are you saying that the seams i get from previewing in 3d s/w only appears in the s/w itself. So when i use my normal map in a game engine, should there be any seams?

Or are you saying that since kaldera takes the current viewport data and bakes the normal map, the error of the normals displayed in the viewport is translated to the baked normal map?

The seams that occur aren't like black lines, but rather they look as though the normals on both sides of the seam do not blend correctly...they match in terms of detail placement, but the normals don't. and that's what's causing them seams.
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  04 April 2004
Quote: the seams i get from previewing in 3d s/w only appears in the s/w itself. So when i use my normal map in a game engine, should there be any seams?
Should be no seams in-game, as long as the game engine is written correctly.

Quote: since kaldera takes the current viewport data and bakes the normal map, the error of the normals displayed in the viewport is translated to the baked normal map?
Incorrect. Kaldera uses 3D data to generate the normal map, not the viewport. The normal map is just fine.
 
  04 April 2004
Tks Eric. I sure hope what you've just said is correct. I'll go try ORB and see if the normal maps work. Once again, thanks man.
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  04 April 2004
Eric, I've tried previewing the model in orb. Doesn't seem to work, the seams are still there. I've attached a pic to illustrate my problem. Or does orb have problems interpreting normal maps from kaldera accurately?

A side note, my UVs are not mirrored. All the UVs are layed out.

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dominicqwek.com[size=1]

Last edited by dominicqwek : 04 April 2004 at 09:40 AM.
 
  04 April 2004
Not Kaldera's fault... likely Orb doesn't recreate the normals' vectors properly, like most previewers. For a test you could try generating a normal map in Orb, and compare against Kaldera.

Even if you don't mirror, you're still dealing with UV edges that are in different rotations from each other.

You need a tool/engine that massages the normals of the vertices on your low-poly mesh, along each of the UV seams in your model. These normals are used by a 3d engine to transform the per-pixel normals from your normal map into world space... the orientation that's needed so the lighting will be seamless across the model.

This is all necessary because most models need tangent-space normal maps (the ones that look predominantly light blue). If you were to use world-space normal maps, then you could mirror/rotate UVs to your hearts content, without needing to create new vertex normals. Problem is, world-space doesn't work with any object that deforms or rotates.

Not sure if that helps or hinders...
 
  04 April 2004
Thanks for sharing all this knowledge m8. It helps a lot just by knowing these things.
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