The Cutting Edge Tech Blog


Create normal maps in blender pt2 by Xptiger

BLENDER GLSL PT2 Saturday 21st March

This tutorial is going to tell you the second method of creating a normal map in blender. You need to have done the normal maps part one tutorial before starting this one. Part 1

You should end up with a normal map that looks similar to the one below.

normal-map-2

This is the second part of this tutorial on creating normal maps in blender. The second method is used for making models look more detailed when rendering them or in games. This method uses the blender UV image editor to transfer the normal map from one object to the other.

So first off create a new blender file but leave everything as it is. Now enter edit mode on the cube in the centre by pressing Tab or going to the object mode drop down and selecting edit mode. Now change the selection tool to line selection, to do this press the line select button (highlighted in red).

line-select

This means that instead of selecting the pink dots (vertices) you select the black lines in-between the pink dots. To change back all you need to do is select the button next to the line select button which has the 4 dots in it.

Now if the lines and dots are yellow, deselect everything by pressing the A key. Then select the lines shown in the diagram bellow while in side view (view – side or numpad 3) and press the b key twice to bring up the circular region selection tool (bit of a long name) and press the RMB on the edges shown.

side-edge-select

Now exit the circular region selection tool by pressing the x key and move the view around by holding the ALT key down and pressing the RMB down. and select the following vertices bellow without deselecting the previous vertices selected.

final-vertice-to-select

And exit the selection tool by pressing the x key. We now need to make these edges seams so we can unwrap the cube as a net object which will make creating the normal map a lot easier. So use So Use the shortcut key of Control – E and select the menu item which say mark seam (highlighted in red)

mark-seam

Then split the 3d view area by right click on the bottom edge of the area and selecting split area, then while your mouse rests in the centre of screen click again. This gives you two 3d view areas. We need a UV/image editor area so goto the the drop down menu highlighted in red and select UV/Image Editor (highlighted in yellow).

uv-image-menu

Now with your mouse in the 3D view area press the U key to open up the UV unwrap menu and select Unwrap (highlighted in red). This creates a flat net of the object in the UV/Image area. The net is split along the creases we created in the cube.

unwrap

You should have something similar to the net shown below.

mesh-unwraped

Now if you’re going to use the cube UV map then you need to exit edit mode and duplicate the cube in object mode using the shortcut key Shift D.

Now make the object high poly, easy enough, BUT DON”T UNWRAP THE OBJECT AGAIN or it won’t work. Below is my high poly object.

high-poly

The vertices  in the UV map have all kept in the correct orientation to apply the UV map to a low poly object. We now need to make an image to map the high poly object to so go to the Image menu (highlighted in red) at the bottom and select the first menu item which is new (highlighted in yellow).

new-image

So we’ve created our high poly mesh to make our low poly mesh look like. we can now Bake it so we get the high poly mesh. So go to the render menu F10 or the mountain picture, and select the bake menu (highlighted in red) next to the Anim menu. Then select the Normals button (highlighted in yellow) and change the drop down to object (highlighted in green). Make sure your in edit mode and have all the vertices selected, Then Bake the normal map by pressing the big beige Bake button (highlighted in blue).

bake

You should now a normal map rendering in the UV/Image editor area. You’ll need to save the normal map by going to the image menu (highlighted in red) at the bottom of the UV/Image area and selecting save (highlighted in yellow). If you don’t do this then the baked image will be lost next time you open the file.

save-imgae

Thats the end of this 2 part tutorial. Hopefully you’ve learned the two ways of making normal maps and should find uses for them.

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