The Cutting Edge Tech Blog


Create Normal Maps In blender PT1 by Xptiger

BLENDER GLSL PT1 Monday 16th March

This tutorial is going to tell you both methods of creating normal maps. Normal maps are images or textures that give an object the appearance of a high vertices object while being a low vertices object. There very useful for games and renders, especially if you have a low power computer. There are two methods of creating them in blender. The first involves giving the object a material and then rendering and saving the image, and the second requires you to unwrap the object then bake a normal map. both give similar results and it depends on what you need to do to which one will work best for you. Hopefully in this two part tutorial I should give you the knowledge venture into the world of creating normal maps for everything.

The first method will give you a result that should look similar to the one below.

normal-map-render-11

So the first thing we need to do is open up blender and delete everything! were doing this because the easiest way to get all the objects lined up is to add them all again.

First make sure the cursor is in the centre of the grid ( where the X, Y and Z meet up). We can do this by clicking near to the centre and then hit the shortcut key shift – S which will open menu like the one below now hit the Cursor -> Grid button (highlighted in red) and watch as the cursor centers itself.

cursor-grid

Now we’ve centre the cursor we’re going to need to give the normal map a background so press the Space button to add a plane shape (a square). first put your mouse over the Add button (highlighted in red) then the Mesh button (highlighted in yellow) and finally click on the Plane button (highlighted in green)

add-plane

now scale the object new object with the S key. Dragging the mouse out following the red arrow.

scale

Now return to object mode by pressing TAB or going to the mode selection button (highlighted in red) and pressing the object button (highlighted in green).

mode-selection

Now we need to add the shape we want to make a normal map of. So we need to back to the Add Mesh menu (Space – Add – Mesh) but this time press the Monkey button And switch to object mode again. Now go to side view number pad 3 or in the view menu the side button. Press the Z key to entire wireframe mode and then drag the blue arrow on the monkey upwards to move the monkey along the z axis. If there aren’t any arrows check that the little pointy hand is selected (highlighted in red)  and then that the arrow icon is selected (highlighted in yellow) in the lower menu.

display-arrows

Move the Monkey up along the Z axis until it’s above the plane as shown below.

move-up

Now switch back to solid mode and to top view through the menu view – top or by pressing Numpad 7. And press space then go to Add (highlighted in red) and Camera (highlighted in yellow).

add-camera

Then enter the camera view by press numbpad 0 or going to view then camera. Then press Shift – F for the shortcut key to goto fly mode and scroll the Middle Mouse button back till you can see both the plane and the monkey within the dotted camera line. Go to the edit window F5 (highlighted in red) and select orthographic (highlighted in yellow) to make the camera see no perspective.

camera-setup

We’ve set up our scene so all we need to do now is to make the normal map. This is simple really all we need to do is make a material and add three textures. Each of the texture represent a certain axis thus creating the normal map when rendered. To start with we need to create a material. So go to the shading menu F5 or by pressing the ball icon (highlighted in red).

shading-menu

Then press the big Add New button; to make a new material,  and apply all the settings shown bellow.

shadeless

The shadeless just means that it’s not affected by lights or reflections and stuff like that and the R, G and B options are the color hence RGB. Now we need to add 3 textures so go to the texture menu F6 or press the button shown bellow

texture

This will bring up this menu.

texture-menu1

Now hit the add new button again to make a new texture and give it a blend type (highlighted in yellow) in the drop down menu with none in it at the moment (highlighted in red). Make sure that the blend option has LIN selected (highlighted in yellow) or it won’t work. This gives a texture with only half colored in.

texture-type

Now return back to the shading menu and there is a new texture added. But we need three so select the box bellow the new texture (highlighted in red) and in the drop down (highlighted in yellow) select the texture we just made (highlighted in green)  and repeat that for the box bellow that one.

textures

Now we need to make the colors correspond to the axis. so follow the three images bellow.

tex-11

tex-21

tex-31

The Yellow bit on the first image makes the Texture map to the normal (why it’s called a normal map) so gives the render the depth. The red bit sets the axis the image will render along so the x axis for the first. The default sets the texture to render along all the axis. The Blue bit on the first image makes the texture blend into the other two textures while the blue bit on the second texture makes the texture add to the one before. and the RGB bit is just the color. If you now do a render F12 you’ll see the Monkey now has a normal map like coloring.

Now we need to give the background plane the same material so select the plane and go onto the shading menu and press the drop-down menu next to the add new button and select the material we just made. The plane now has the normal map material.

Now if you render F12 there is something similar to a normal map. To save this image go to the file menu (highlighted in red) at the top of the screen and select Save Rendered Image (highlighted in yellow) or press F3.

save-render

Thats the end of the first tutorial for creating Normal Maps.

Part two

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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Lots of of guys talk about this subject but you said really true words!!

Comment by bellinuankise

Thank you :)

Comment by Slavak




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