Create Normal Maps from Displacement Map

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  01 January 2008
Create Normal Maps from Displacement Map

Im new to Modo and I was wondering how to create a displacement map (used for a normal map) for a low polygon object? From what I've seen, you need to subdivide the object to get a smooth displacement. If the object I've modeled cant be subdivided, since its a non organic model (like a cube), how can I increase the polygon count to get a nice displacement? What I'm trying to do is create concrete etching on a cube for a normal map that only has 6 polygons.

I hope that makes sense...Thanks!
  01 January 2008
The mesh's polygons will have to be joined at the shading/displacement level, so you could do a Shift-D a few times, then turn it into a subdivision surface, and bake it then. Or, you could increase the smoothing angle enough so that the edges are joined, but i did just try this on a cube, and the result is bad looking. The displacement is calculated straight out along the normal, and since they blend in a sphere like fashion due to smoothing, it will displace like a sphere. The linear interpolation between vertexes in smoothing also makes seams. Making a SDS with a facet-subdivided base mesh will have smooth edges (as smooth as you like) and the rest will be flat. That could possiby be the best option...

Another thing to think about, the bakery doesn't even see the geometry, it sees the shading. So if your mesh doesnt smooth right, or not at all, or if the parts are discontiguous, the baked map will still be contiguous. So really, you can have your displacement make a mess of your model, and it will be fine. Do Shift-D subdivide it first, if only for the sake of sculpting it.

have fun sculpting and baking!
  01 January 2008
Is there a way in which you can paint normals instead of subvividing a mesh or creating a high res version? What about using a bump map and converting it to a normal map? I'm not familiar with how Modo works but is that possible? I'm trying to avoid creating a high res model to sculpt on. This low res model will be used within a game engine...

  01 January 2008
It's usually a big pain to literally paint normals, unless you have some images pre-loaded, if they were baked. You would have to set the map to diffuse to paint and then change it back. Don't do that, probably.

You can paint bump maps much easier however, and these can be baked into normal maps.
  01 January 2008
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