Alpha maps? Bump maps? normal maps? spec maps? :S


Hey guys, im new to 3d design and im just starting to get the hang of all basics and everythng. Sinec i have been a member of this forum my skill has been increasing alot faster. But i have a question, i have been reading alot about all these maps, and i kinda lost track :P. Well my question is , How do i and what do i need to make alpha,bump,normal,spec maps and how do i put them on my model.

You time is greatly apreciated :slight_smile:



I would look through some good tutorials, that are around the internet.
One good webpage for tutorials is for an overview of
many maps.
Normal-Mappping is especially for games, in order to fake geometry-detail.
Hereis a good explanation of what is a normal-map.
For adding such a map on a 3D-Model I would look for help in the “help-file”
of your Modelling Program. It depends from the Program you use,
but when you create materials in the “material editor” of your
Programm, you can add maps in special slots ( such as “Bump-map” or “Opacity” ).
I hope i could help you a bit for the start with that…good luck :thumbsup:


Do you understand the concept of a texture?
well basically ‘maps’ in the sense of game art are textures.

You have your basic ‘colour’ map or ‘diffuse’ as max calls it, this is basic paint onto your model.

You have a bump-map which adds bumps or indents to your model, basically making it not-flat

You have normal-maps which are like bump-maps’ on steroids, they are far more convincing than bumpmaps, with bumpmaps if you look at them side on, they are still flat; normal maps combat this and you can have a far more realistic bump.

specular maps …well simply control the “shine” on your model

there are hundreds more types of maps, they are added over your base model to texture it.


i wouldnt say that there is “hundreds more”.

you could add Reflection maps and Dirt maps to those 4 basic ones now.

If your gonna be doing game art you must get familar with the pixel ratios comonly used for games. basically goes up in 2s. Most common are 64x64,128x128,265x256,512x512 , or you can do stuff like 512x256 or 128x64. DEPENDS on your engine, sometimes u can do stuff like 512x64. But i’m giving you examples of what i work with on a day to day basis. You can go up to 1024x1024 for massive objects or characters. or even 2048x2048 which is what Half life 2 used for thier characters.

Diffuse - colour info map. applied through the Diffuse channel in the max material editor.
the bump

Bump - this is a grayscale black and white map. the degree of shading between the 2 describes depth. black wil be low, white will be high. apply within the bump channel in max

Specular map - grayscale again. describes how shiny you want something. black is no shine, white with be sparkly as hell. apply within the specular channel in max

Normal map - A better alternative to regular Bump Maps, this is like a multi coloured thing. theres a Lot of info on this in the sticky thread in this forum. you should check that out. 2 ways to create these, create a hi poly model, a normal map with all the detail is takin off that, and can be applied to a lower poly model. OR, you can use nvidias normal map filter in pshop to convert a regualr bump into a normal map. i use this a bit and it provides nice results. theres a view tutorials kicking around on how to get these applied within max.

thats all a very basic rundown on whats commonly used now. i havnt really worked with reflection or dirt maps yet in a Game Art sence , so i cant comment too much.


Thanks for taking the time to write a reply and help me, i think i get it now :slight_smile:

Ill go back to 3dsmax now :stuck_out_tongue:


GreyScale = form Black to White, most times Black is none, white is full effect.

Color+AlphaMap, Colorinformation in RGB and a Alpha Channel for Transparency.
Games use the Alpha to cut “holes” in an Object.
In a render it just reveals the surface below it. You can put multiple ColorMaps over each other, a bit like Layers in PhotoShop.

DiffuseMap, GreyScale, Lightabsorbation of a Surface (dont know how this is called in MAX)

BumpMap, Greyscale, Heightinfo for Lights

NormalMap, Vectorinfo for Lights in RGB, AlphaChannel used for Parallax Effect(GreyScale)
3 Modes:
Tangent (blueish map, can deform and rotate)
ObjectSpace (RainbowColors, can rotate, not good for deforming)
WorldSpace (RainbowColors, dont touch :slight_smile: )
I prefer Tangent because i dont have to think about future use of the object…

DisplacementMap, GreyScale (ZBrush uses 16-bit Tiff), a bit like BumpMaps but they actually deform the (Highres-)Mesh

SpecMap, Greyscale, Info for Specularity

Glossmap, Greyscale, Info for “Sharpness” for Specularity

ClipMap, B+W, used to cut “holes” into the Object.

LuminosityMap, Greyscale, used for Selfillumination (glowing Buttons, Displays etc.)

ReflectionMap, Greyscale, used to say where and how much reflection should be visible.

DetailMap, Greyscale, tileable, used to add “grain” to the texture, if you get close to an object it fades in and makes a “blurry” Texture a bit more intressting. I think in Serious Sam its just everywhere.

I never heard of DirtMaps. Whats that?

Sometimes you also have to create diffent maps not discribed here but are important for the Game.
I used a rainbowcolor map for terrain generation. Was ugly to look at but all the needed details where in there and had i higher Resolution that a simple 8-bit GreyscaleMap.

Tileable maps are used in LevelEditors like Unreal. You make a texture that repeats seamless on X… maybe also on Y.
The hard Way would be if the Map also could be rotated in 90° Steps. We used that in a game for the PS1 for a more “random” look. Also these Tiles had sizes like 25x7 Pixels because they where arranged on a TexturePage (1024x1024 if i remember correctly)

These are the things i have seen or used so far… hope it gives you a little overview.


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