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Converting bump maps to normal maps using nDO

From: Creating Urban Game Environments in 3ds Max

Video: Converting bump maps to normal maps using nDO

Once we've got a color and a bump texture constructed for an object or a building, we're going to use that bump to make a normal map. A normal map is basically you can think of as a bump map plus a direction so the surfaces look like they are oriented correctly to the light. It is more involved with it, but that's the nuts and bolts on it. What I want to do in this building is in a normal map, pop out certain details, such as the sill here, the detail around the window, the stepping and the color, and also little bit of relief between the bricks. This darkness right here between the bricks is dirt that's collected over time in the recesses in the mortar.

Converting bump maps to normal maps using nDO

Once we've got a color and a bump texture constructed for an object or a building, we're going to use that bump to make a normal map. A normal map is basically you can think of as a bump map plus a direction so the surfaces look like they are oriented correctly to the light. It is more involved with it, but that's the nuts and bolts on it. What I want to do in this building is in a normal map, pop out certain details, such as the sill here, the detail around the window, the stepping and the color, and also little bit of relief between the bricks. This darkness right here between the bricks is dirt that's collected over time in the recesses in the mortar.

I have my Color and Bump groups ready from the previous exercises and in them are the layers so I can get to them easily. I've taken my bump map and desaturated all the layers and eliminated the ones that aren't going to affect the depth in it. Now I'm ready to use nDo, a free script available from cgted.com, to make my normal map in Photoshop. Alternately, there are plug-ins available form NVIDIA and other manufacturers and also standalone programs that can do this. We have many options available. It's really a question of what workflow you'd like to use.

For this, I'll start with my Bump group and make sure that I have enough range between the brick and the stone for things to show. I will also make sure that things like the stepping in my windows have enough range or contrast between them. Lastly, I will clone this group by selecting it in the Layer palette, holding Alt and dragging, turning off the original and then on the new group pressing Ctrl+E to merge the group into one layer. Now it's ready to become a normal map. To activate nDo we can either install it or simply run the script straight from the drive.

I'll choose File > Scripts > Browse and on my Desktop is the nDo folder. In there, I'll select the Adobe JavaScript file nDo. This will take a second to run and start to modify those layers pretty heavily. When this message comes up, we do want to remove the bevel for pixels that intersect the canvas edges. This is because this map is tilable and we don't want to introduce a bevel in the middle of bricks on the edge. Yes, this map is tilable.

As you can see, nDo went through quite a few steps to get this normal map. The rainbows here in the normal map are due to the way the normals affect direction and surface orientation, with blue providing direction or strength and red and green providing surface orientation on X and Y, thereby giving it that rainbow appearance. In the nDo dialog, then I have a choice over how does this look. Under the Style I have Bevel and Emboss. I will try Emboss and see how this looks.

It's always important to try different ways. One way may not work exactly but another look may be available and get you the results you want. It only takes a little bit of experimentation. Under Technique I'm going to run it as a Chisel Hard, because right now my brick to me is looking a little bit pillowy, a little bit rounded. That's better. Now the brick is flatter. The last part is I will play with the Depth and the Scale. I'll bring up the Depth 2000. Every time I make a change nDo will update. It's going to give me a little more relief in there, and finally I'll bring up the Scale to maybe 500.

I'm going to give this a guess and see if it works. One of the most important things here to note is that I'm working on a separate layer and I've preserved my original group. If this doesn't work I can always come back and very easily re-clone the group and make a new normal map without having lost any data. I'll try this and see if it works. I will hit Close on the nDo dialog and then save this out as a TIFF, bringing it into 3ds Max. I will also save the final color image as well. In 3ds Max, I have added a little light into my scene, so that once I turn on realistic with scene lights, I can see how the normal map reacts. After all the surfaces should look like they're oriented correctly to the light.

I will make sure in the Viewport settings that under Lighting and Shadows, I am Illuminating with the Scene Lights. It takes a minute and there is my scene light showing nicely in the scene with its shadows done correctly as they are raytraced. Now I will update the material. Selecting an object, I will press M for Material Editor and here's my material I have running for the texture. I will click on the M for the Diffuse Texture and in the Bitmap Parameters change from the existing map to the new one. As a note, I like to name my map so I can find them easily in a list.

In this case the color of the building has a C at the end. The normal map has an N. I will use other convention, say S for Shine or B for Bump. In the absence of the naming convention which may be an alphanumeric string given by a studio, something like this let's you recognize easily where texture should go. Under Maps in the Bump slot, I will add in a normal bump. First select a normal bump and then in the Normal slot, updating it with a bitmap, in which case I'll go find my normal map.

Once I've done that, and this updates, hopefully I can see my normal map in action. What I may do to make it easier to see is in the unwrap UVW Modifier, turn off the scenes, as we can see them overlaying on the mesh and possibly obscuring detail. I will uncheck the Map Seams and Peel Seams and then I need to adjust the strength of the normal map. In the Normal we have the strength and also a bump strength. I will bring up the Normal strength to 6, go up to the parent, and bring the Bump up to 100%, and now I can start to see some detail.

What I really notice it is in the chiseling here on the stone. As I select the light and move, we can see that chiseling appear to change lighting somewhat. That is the normal map in action. I can also see as I move the light and even better when I turn off the Occlusion how the window stepping is working. With Occlusion off, the lights selected and moving, I can see how the windows appear to have more detail and levels. Even though they are really just flat polygons. It's a very quick workflow. To work in a grayscale bump in Photoshop and then convert to a normal map afterwards, rather than taking a hard surface object like this, a building, out to an external sculpting program, we can have a very easy time doing normals that look really good in a scene by painting them gray and then converting them.

nDo is one such plug-in and there are many available. Whatever works to get the normal map out is good. In this chapter, we've constructed diffuse and bump maps through an organized named and layered workflow. We've also taken that bump map and converted it easily to a normal map for adding extra depth and realism to our facade. We can apply this best practice and workflow to any building we need to construct for our city.

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This video is part of

Image for Creating Urban Game Environments in 3ds Max
Creating Urban Game Environments in 3ds Max

78 video lessons · 6201 viewers

Adam Crespi
Author

 
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  1. 4m 47s
    1. Welcome
      55s
    2. Understanding the design process
      47s
    3. What you should know before watching this course
      14s
    4. Software requirements
      47s
    5. Using the exercise files
      2m 4s
  2. 14m 36s
    1. Identifying key contours and shadows in concept art
      1m 59s
    2. Analyzing concept art for texture
      2m 28s
    3. Choosing between modeling and texturing
      1m 43s
    4. Understanding the limitations of normal maps
      2m 26s
    5. Analyzing concept art for key shadow details
      3m 10s
    6. Identifying shadow details as generated or painted
      2m 50s
  3. 44m 57s
    1. Planning the visible overlaid history in a city
      3m 6s
    2. Planning a "wedding cake" building: Base, middle, and top
      2m 50s
    3. Planning a modern building: Base and shaft
      3m 1s
    4. Designing the zoning: Planning the visible uses of buildings
      6m 43s
    5. Laying out city blocks
      2m 36s
    6. Planning modular textures and geometry: Streets and sidewalks
      4m 1s
    7. Texturing intersections
      3m 13s
    8. Modeling modular curbs, gutters, and ramps
      5m 7s
    9. Modeling modular street elements
      3m 14s
    10. Modeling corners with ramps
      5m 56s
    11. Unwrapping sidewalk elements
      5m 10s
  4. 38m 9s
    1. Laying out rectangles and planning how to clone geometry and texture
      4m 59s
    2. Using layers to organize construction elements and actual models
      3m 51s
    3. Extruding edges to form major shadow lines
      5m 17s
    4. Testing the module for correct floor-to-floor heights
      1m 41s
    5. Trimming down the module and cloning
      4m 10s
    6. Stretching the vertical elements to minimize geometry
      7m 10s
    7. Unwrapping the elements for correct proportion
      7m 48s
    8. Laying out a texture sheet for a façade
      3m 13s
  5. 39m 50s
    1. Making brick texture
      6m 23s
    2. Adding detail to the diffuse texture: Sills and arches
      4m 24s
    3. Adding stone accents
      7m 47s
    4. Layering color in window frames and doorways
      8m 39s
    5. Copying diffuse layers for normal map foundations
      2m 7s
    6. Desaturating the diffuse map copies and prepping for normal maps
      3m 42s
    7. Converting bump maps to normal maps using nDO
      6m 48s
  6. 1h 2m
    1. Analyzing the necessary silhouette and geometry
      5m 24s
    2. Examining existing buildings in different lighting conditions
      3m 8s
    3. Planning cornice elements
      3m 32s
    4. Extruding cornice elements from polygon edges
      9m 12s
    5. Assigning smoothing groups for optimal shading
      4m 31s
    6. Unwrapping cornices for lighting
      8m 43s
    7. Modeling sloped roofs
      7m 16s
    8. Adding fascias and soffits
      5m 21s
    9. Adding fascias and soffits for gable ends
      7m 31s
    10. Texture sheets for roofs
      8m 1s
  7. 13m 55s
    1. Arranging, aligning, and cloning modular elements
      3m 26s
    2. Setting pivot points for buildings
      5m 48s
    3. Reusing elements: Exploring possibilities in modular building design
      4m 41s
  8. 40m 3s
    1. Creating a texture library
      36s
    2. Creating rusty corrugated metal texture
      7m 53s
    3. Creating stone texture
      4m 42s
    4. Creating wood texture
      9m 50s
    5. Creating rough brick texture
      7m 44s
    6. Creating roads
      9m 18s
  9. 38m 44s
    1. Using the Walkthrough Assistant to assess texture needs
      4m 46s
    2. Drawing detail at the right size
      3m 30s
    3. Understanding tiling and non-tiling textures
      2m 57s
    4. Deciding when to use tiling and non-tiling textures
      3m 2s
    5. Using multiple mapping coordinates
      4m 3s
    6. Using multiple unwrap modifiers
      6m 47s
    7. Unwrapping objects a second time: Planning an unwrap for a light map
      7m 46s
    8. Unwrapping a building façade using overlapping texture elements
      5m 53s
  10. 30m 25s
    1. Understanding ambient occlusion
      1m 50s
    2. Assessing the quality of occlusion as a cinematic mood
      2m 48s
    3. Overview of the Ambient Occlusion shader
      5m 9s
    4. Baking maps using the Render To Texture dialog
      3m 15s
    5. Using occlusion as a foundation for dirt
      5m 28s
    6. Using occlusion from detailed models for texture
      5m 54s
    7. Baking lighting
      6m 1s
  11. 25m 18s
    1. Preparing for Unity as a world builder
      2m 26s
    2. Importing into Unity and recognizing limitations
      4m 12s
    3. Importing elements with detailed materials
      5m 59s
    4. Setting optimal texture sizes and resizing in Unity
      3m 12s
    5. Setting up a naming convention and scene management
      7m 40s
    6. Renaming tools in 3ds Max
      1m 49s
  12. 1m 21s
    1. What's next
      1m 21s

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