Normal Maps in Mental Ray?

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  08 August 2009
Normal Maps in Mental Ray?

I tried running a search a few times for this and couldn't get the search tool to work so sorry if this has already been covered before...

I'm running Maya 2009 and I've spent the better half of my day trying to use a normal map I made in zbrush on my model in maya and render it with mental ray.

I've done as many suggested and tried to use JS_normalmapper from pixero. After a lot of fumbling with it I finally got everything linked properly, but just as severl others I have run into the problem where it appears blacked out and when I attempt to render it anyway, absolutely nothing renders. It won't render at ALL. I don't even get an error. It just flat out refuses.

Perhaps it's because I'm using maya 2009... or some unknown factor I can't find. I've been able to render the map in software (though it has some odd distortions I've seen others have had, which were solved by rendering in mental ray

Is there any other way to render normals in mental ray? Or if you're familiar with the method I've attempted, do you have any idea what I may be doing wrong? I'm relatively new to modeling so are normals still commonly used or should I try something else like displacement maps?

Any help would be appreciated a lot...
  08 August 2009
First I must say I'm not familiar with zBrush normal maps, so there maybe something there I dont know about.

You can use maya's standard bump2d node to do normals mapping with mentalray, in either tangent or object space. However it lacks the ability to flip the colors are alter the intensity like JS_NormalMapper. Problem was for me that JS_NormalMapper gave me the black dot problem. Luckily I found lyrid_normal_map which worked perfectly.

-- David
  08 August 2009
Wow.. the bump node worked! I can't believe it was that simple. The map looks correct so I guess I don't need to worry about flipping it for now. I'll try that lyrid thing later.

Now I just need to figure out what the deal is with my shadows :/ The lights are interacting with the model but they don't cast shadows. Do ray tracing and normal maps go together? I'll keep playing with it...
  08 August 2009
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