Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Applying normal maps

From: Creating Textures and Shaders in Maya

Video: Applying normal maps

In this movie, I am going to show you how to hook up a normal map to a shader network applied to a surface in Maya. Now Maya's Transfer Map tool does a decent job of creating normal maps, but professionally speaking, I prefer to create my normal maps using a third-party program. I personally use ZBrush to sculpt the objects, create the texture maps, and generate the normal maps because I find it easier to use and the normal maps generated by ZBrush are superior to those that are created in Maya. Other artists will use programs such as Mudbox or xNormal or CrazyBump.

Applying normal maps

In this movie, I am going to show you how to hook up a normal map to a shader network applied to a surface in Maya. Now Maya's Transfer Map tool does a decent job of creating normal maps, but professionally speaking, I prefer to create my normal maps using a third-party program. I personally use ZBrush to sculpt the objects, create the texture maps, and generate the normal maps because I find it easier to use and the normal maps generated by ZBrush are superior to those that are created in Maya. Other artists will use programs such as Mudbox or xNormal or CrazyBump.

They are all good ways to create normal maps for your characters. So in this case, I've created a normal map and I'm going to apply it to the surface as a file texture. So let's start by taking a look at how we can preview the normal map in Maya. I am going to create a blinn texture for this character. So I am going to expand the old man in the outliner, make sure I have oldManShape selected, and I'll click on the Blinn material to assign a new blinn to the surface. In the Shading menu, I'm going to turn off Use default material so we can see the blinn shader on the surface correctly.

I've selected the surface and I am switching over to the blinn3 tab. In the Bump Mapping section of the blinn3 tab, I am going to click on the little checkerboard icon. This brings up the Create Render Node window. Under 2D Textures, I'll choose File, and this is going to pull up the bump2d attributes in the Attribute Editor. I need to make sure that Use As is set to Tangent Space Normals, so that it calculates a Tangent Space normal map correctly, and now I'll click on the icon to the right of Bump value.

The little arrow, this will switch me over to the File node. And to cook up the image, I'm going to click on the folder next to Image Name. Switch to the sourceimages directory of the current project. I am going to use the file called madHatter 1_NORMAL, and then the last thing I am going to do is set Filter Type to off. The filter adds a slight blur to the texture which sometimes can kind of destroy the detail in the normal map. Once I have that setup, I am going to go into the Perspective View and turn on the Texturing Bump button.

This is a little checkered sphere at the top of the Perspective View. Now, you can also press the 6 key on the keyboard. I am going to set the Renderer to High Quality Rendering, and now we can see the normal map, and all the details that I have sculpted into the surface of the skin. So I have got a lot of veins here and some pores and wrinkles and that kind of stuff. So now I want to hook this up to my skin shader network. So I am going to go Rendering Editors > Hypershade and I am going to middle-mouse button+drag the fast skin shader.

This is the misss_fast_skin_maya shader. I am going to rename this just skinShader. You can see under Bump Shader, I actually already have the normal map connected, but I will show you how to recreate the connection. So I am going to break the connection here just by right-clicking and go to Textures. I am going to pull down file4. Middle-mouse button+drag file4 down into the Work Area. I am going to Shift+Select both of these nodes here in the Work Area. Choose Graph Input And Output Connections.

So now we can see the graph of the shader is also normal map. I am going to expand the Work Area. Then what I need to do is select the skinShader, so I can see its attributes in the Attribute Editor and I will just middle-mouse button+drag the Bump node on top of the Bump channel here, and this will hook up the normal map. So now I will create a render, and I'll see how this looks. Oh! Yes, I need to apply the shader to the surface.

Still have the blinn shader attached to the surface of the old man, so I want to select the oldManShape, and then the Hypershade, right-click over skinShader and choose Assign Material To Selection and now that has been assigned. Now let's create a render and see how it looks. There we go. You can see some of the detail here in the lips, and some wrinkles on the skin, and some pore textures as well as on the some of the veins here, as well as the detail on the ears. So why would you choose to use a normal map over a bump map? One, they have their advantages and disadvantages. You could use a bump map to create the same kind of detail and the advantage of the bump map is that you can easily paint them in a program such as Photoshop, because it just uses dark and light values, and it's very easy to sort of figure out as you're painting the texture how light values will create little bumps like pimples, and that kind of stuff in the skin, and dark values can create things like pores and wrinkles and that kind of stuff.

But a normal map tends to be a little bit more accurate because a normal map actually uses a vector to change the normal on the surface in order to create the surface detail. So it uses a red, green, and blue value as opposed to a simple grayscale value. So for instance, if I select the normal map here in the Work Area of the Hypershade, right-click, and choose Test Texture. this will open up the normal map in the Render View and you can see what the normal map looks like. So you see how it is using color values.

Red, green, and blue color values to alter the surface. This is not something that you could easily paint by hand in Photoshop because it is very difficult to figure out how these red, green, and blue values are going to accurately deform the surface. But normal maps do tend to render faster, their bumps are little bit more accurate, and the reason that I use them is I tend to sculpt the detail directly in ZBrush on the surface of the object, because ZBrush can handle objects that are millions and millions of polygons much more than Maya can.

Then I just basically use their normal map conversion method to convert the sculpted high-frequency detail into a normal map that I can then use in my lower resolution object in Maya. It's kind of a personal preference thing. You might want to experiment using normal maps, and bump maps, and see which one you prefer, but that's the basic idea of how to hook up a normal map to a surface in Maya.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Creating Textures and Shaders in Maya
Creating Textures and Shaders in Maya

37 video lessons · 7924 viewers

Eric Keller
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 19s
    1. Welcome
      1m 6s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 13s
  2. 17m 49s
    1. Explaining diffuse reflections
      2m 39s
    2. Defining glossy and blurred reflections
      2m 32s
    3. Looking at refraction
      4m 20s
    4. Describing the Fresnel effect
      1m 56s
    5. Understanding anisotropy
      1m 10s
    6. Identifying ambient and reflection occlusion
      1m 49s
    7. Defining sub-surface scattering
      2m 4s
    8. Simulating translucency
      1m 19s
  3. 1h 8m
    1. Using Maya's standard shaders with mental ray
      7m 2s
    2. Comparing mental ray and Maya shader nodes
      9m 12s
    3. Creating mental ray shaders
      2m 32s
    4. Making sense of mental ray shaders
      10m 35s
    5. Introducing the mia_material
      9m 16s
    6. Creating a custom mia_material preset
      9m 17s
    7. Looking at car paint materials
      6m 43s
    8. Using subsurface scattering shaders
      13m 33s
  4. 1h 5m
    1. Understanding UV coordinates
      4m 26s
    2. Comparing NURBS and polygon UVs
      4m 48s
    3. Mapping polygon UV surfaces
      13m 1s
    4. Using texture maps for color and other shader channels
      8m 1s
    5. Applying and projecting 2D procedural texture nodes
      4m 0s
    6. Applying 3D procedural texture nodes
      7m 1s
    7. Using ramp textures
      8m 12s
    8. Setting up utility nodes
      6m 29s
    9. Using file texture nodes
      9m 41s
  5. 22m 36s
    1. Applying the turbulence texture
      9m 37s
    2. Considering the round corners texture
      4m 17s
    3. Improving skin detail with ambient occlusion
      4m 27s
    4. Applying reflection occlusion
      4m 15s
  6. 33m 6s
    1. Painting bump maps
      4m 14s
    2. Creating normal maps
      5m 24s
    3. Applying normal maps
      6m 17s
    4. Creating displacement maps
      9m 14s
    5. Troubleshooting displacement maps
      7m 57s
  7. 33s
    1. Goodbye
      33s

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ.

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now "Already a member? Log in

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed Creating Textures and Shaders in Maya.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferencesfrom the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Are you sure you want to delete this note?

No

Your file was successfully uploaded.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.