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 Post subject: Creating Texture Maps
PostPosted: 2012-03-23, 15:02 
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Having not dealt with sophisticated Materials before, what program or process can be used to generate the diffusemap, normalmap and specularmap ?


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PostPosted: 2012-03-23, 16:27 
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Diffuse is just a plain texture, normals are made from heightmaps, specular is the shininess.
I've used gimp, paint.net, photoshop. First making a tiling normal, then painting height/normal and spec.
There's a bunch of normal map generating software, free too, plugins for the mentioned programs and standalone software.


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PostPosted: 2012-03-23, 16:58 
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I made Texures yesterday with gimp in less than half an hour per 512x512 Texture. You only need the normalmap Plugin from here and this works perfectly. The only tool in gimp I needed were the clone tool to make the textures seamless and then playing around with the colors did the rest.

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PostPosted: 2012-03-24, 01:15 
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The Diffuse and Specular maps you can just hand paint. The normal map can be painted with a grey image (Heightmap) then run through a normal map filter in Photoshop, Gimp, etc.
Theres also Crazy Bump and XNormal which are stand alone apps that can convert your heighmap and out put other stuff besides a normal map. Crazy bump is excellent for extracting normals from photographs.

The other method of making normal maps is using high polygon geometry which will get you the best results. XNormal's primary function is to bake normals from models.


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PostPosted: 2012-03-24, 03:24 
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Thanks for the explanation and guidance, and the plugin Haimi.


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PostPosted: 2012-03-24, 10:34 
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Hi Jim,
welcome to the Cafu forums! :welcome:

Did you have a look at the two threads linked at viewtopic.php?f=2&t=856 ? :up:

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PostPosted: 2012-03-24, 16:50 
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Carsten,
Yes Ive seen those threads, but my intent is to train some one that has no experience on how to convert simple textures into materials, and I need to understand how to do it first. I' want to give them the Public Domain Blender Texture CD, the gimp and a plugin (or two), a procedure and a before and after example, and tell them build me assests for Cafu.


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PostPosted: 2012-03-25, 11:16 
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Hi Jim,

well, creating normal maps can be a very broad topic that takes some time to learn.
Generally, creating normal maps from rendering 3D geometry yields better results than converting them from heightmaps, but clearly both techniques have their uses.

Just some additional links that you probably know already, the "classics" with the academical basics of normal mapping, but with links to related normal maps creation software as well:

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PostPosted: 2012-03-29, 03:57 
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Hi there :)

i guess the most important things are already mentioned.
2D conversion is what it is: a conversion
while 3D yields more accurate results but takes more time to setup and could create more errors if done wrong.
so in many cases a 2D conversion will still be good in many cases or add detail where needed.

In general:
small\high frequency details as well as natural surfaces are more suited to be created out of conversion using a bump map type texture.
All technical surfaces or surfaces with very clear angles or curved surfaces would be made out of a 3D mesh simply because its more accurate.
A normal map is nothing more than the encoded angular information of any given surface on a per pixel base.
That's why it works so well with lights and a low poly surface as long as the silhuette is not revealing the obvious :)

To achieve better results, you might also want to have a realtime solution that can show all textures on a simple shader to give a better impression on the overall result (which can vary depending what shader and lighting you use)
Marmoset Toolbag (small but excellent comercial tool) or Nvidia's FX Composer (free) can provide that
http://developer.nvidia.com/fx-composer
http://www.8monkeylabs.com/toolbag

there also ways using Xnormal (another great free app by the way) but i dislike the crowded and somewhat cumbersome interface\controls ...

Last thing:
The polycount wiki is probably the best source of knowledge about 3D for games .Period.
Many pros from Blizzard over Naughty Dog (Uncharted) to Sony Santa Monica (God of War) or Bioware ... they all are contributing a lot of information proofed during production so it's invaluable !

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PostPosted: 2012-03-29, 22:54 
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Hi Kai,

thanks for chiming in! :-D

I've put a link to "this" thread into the collector thread viewtopic.php?f=2&t=856, but I'd really love to eventually transfer this wealth of information into a dedicated page in our Wiki, so that it is less fragmented, more prominently visible, and easier to find.
(Right now I'm working on the Model Editor documentation, and will probably do it as soon as that's done.)

And honestly, while its easy to convert bumpmaps into normalmaps (that's even a built-in feature of the MatSys, using the hm2nm keyword: see Map Compositions for details), I have never created a normal map for a wall texture from a 3D model myself, and never been quite sure how to do it.

However, I just re-read http://wiki.polycount.com/NormalMap and found that the Links section at the bottom in fact provides so much great information that it can be taken as a full, complete answer to the question: "How do I render a normal map from 3D geometry?".

So in summary, I'll add this question, with the http://wiki.polycount.com/NormalMap#Links link as the answer, to the Wiki as well.

(By the way, is http://tech-artists.org a clone of http://wiki.polycount.com/? The page http://tech-artists.org/wiki/Normal_mapping looks remarkably similar to http://wiki.polycount.com/NormalMap ...)

Btw., now that the Model Editor is nearly complete (for now...), I'll send you a new email soon, regarding the proper computation of tangent-space vectors, and how the prominent baking applications do it. I.e. essentially pick it up again where we left it the last time. :cheesy:
It's a very interesting topic, but I plan to read this, this and this beforehand though. ;-)

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PostPosted: 2012-03-30, 04:19 
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Hi

Quote:
I'd really love to eventually transfer this wealth of information into a dedicated page in our Wiki, so that it is less fragmented, more prominently visible, and easier to find.

Agreed how do you want us to do this ? What structure is it relying on ?
That would be a part besides the actual Cafu content because its more supplemental information.

Quote:
I have never created a normal map for a wall texture from a 3D model myself, and never been quite sure how to do it

It rather simple when starting witch something simple like a wall or ceiling tile that naturally repeats, also wall elements that just need a flat plane as caster for the nmap calculation. Xnormal is very well suited to produce high quality normalmaps and view them on your model. You need however at least a decent 3D app that allows you create complex geometry and to load that into xnormal.

I could do a tutorial for that but need still 2 weeks until i can start since we are pretty busy here delivering shots (as usual)

Quote:
By the way, is http://tech-artists.org a clone of http://wiki.polycount.com/?
In a way yes , Erick Chadwick is the main contributor for this article and is sharing these information on both sites. And yes, tech-artist is a great source as well but like the site name suggests, more tech oriented.

Quote:
I'll send you a new email soon, regarding the proper computation of tangent-space vectors, and how the prominent baking applications do it. I.e. essentially pick it up again where we left it the last time

yeah do that i'll be happy to go through that :) The sources you posted are pretty good especially the first one !
Not a whitepaper but a good overview about the tricks Guerrillia Games used for their pretty Killzone Engine 2 (! not 3 which was PS3 Hardware, this one was on PS2 !) engine.
Although very focused on PS3 Hardware their publications are worth having a look into http://www.guerrilla-games.com/publications/
It is probably the only European game company next to Crytek, building a proprietary shooter engine and a game (these guys are dutch by the way ;) ).

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PostPosted: 2012-03-30, 23:23 
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Hi,

Kai wrote:
Quote:
I'd really love to eventually transfer this wealth of information into a dedicated page in our Wiki, so that it is less fragmented, more prominently visible, and easier to find.

Agreed how do you want us to do this ? What structure is it relying on ?
That would be a part besides the actual Cafu content because its more supplemental information.


Yes, this is a good point and questions.
I think that in the future, the basic structure of the documentation table of contents should roughly be like this:
Code:
The Map Editor
The GUI Editor
The Model Editor
The Material Editor
At the Core: The Cafu Source Code
Appendix

Section "The Material Editor" would subsume today's sections "The Material System" and "Textures" -- if you have graphical editors, there is less a need to have lengthy technical texts with all the scripting details, for which we now have separate pages anyway (http://api.cafu.de/scripting/). Regarding purpose, the Material Editor would be presented as a common subtool to all the other programs, the Map, GUI and Model Editors.

Anyways, this is the future, and I just made a few changes to get structurally closer to it: view differences to TOC side by side.

So, to get back on topic, where should we integrate the material about authoring programs?
Regarding the logical structure, I think that we should have one page titled

Authoring Programs and Tools: Textures and Normal Maps
in today's section "Textures" (or "The Material System"),

and another page titled

Authoring Programs and Tools: Modelling
in section "Model Editor".

Alternatives include having both pages in the Appendix, or in a section of their own. I've no fixed opinion on this and am open to any suggestions!

Regarding the contents, the pages should be in the reference style of viewtopic.php?p=4247#p4247, with the goal of providing (indirect) answers to questions "How do I author models?" and "How do I create textures / normal-maps?"

Quote:
Quote:
I have never created a normal map for a wall texture from a 3D model myself, and never been quite sure how to do it

It rather simple when starting witch something simple like a wall or ceiling tile that naturally repeats, also wall elements that just need a flat plane as caster for the nmap calculation. Xnormal is very well suited to produce high quality normalmaps and view them on your model. You need however at least a decent 3D app that allows you create complex geometry and to load that into xnormal.

Thanks!
This would also be a sufficient amount of prose as answer to the "How do I create normal-maps?" question above -- the rest would be the programs and/or links list.

(We should not waste efforts with definitions or lengthy explanations for subjects that are already covered thoroughly either at Wikipedia or Polycount.)

Quote:
I could do a tutorial for that but need still 2 weeks until i can start since we are pretty busy here delivering shots (as usual)

I'd be very happy about it!, although I must say that for myself, the toughest problem regarding making normal maps is (or was) gaining an "overview" of everything: e.g. how does it work principally (2D conversions vs. 3D renderings), and what programs are available at all, which of those are recommended, which ones are "right" for this purpose?

Such "difficult" questions are my principal motivation here: For example, your answer above, combined with the link to http://wiki.polycount.com/NormalMap, is enough to remove the feeling of helplessness: I'd next check out specifically Xnormal and e.g. Blender (or 3D Studio Max if I wanted to purchase one). (And thus also largely leaving the scope of the documentation that we can provide here.)

Quote:
In a way yes , Erick Chadwick is the main contributor for this article and is sharing these information on both sites. And yes, tech-artist is a great source as well but like the site name suggests, more tech oriented.

Ah! I'll have another look then. Maybe it's just right for me! :cheesy:

Quote:
Not a whitepaper but a good overview about the tricks Guerrillia Games used for their pretty Killzone Engine 2 (! not 3 which was PS3 Hardware, this one was on PS2 !) engine.
Although very focused on PS3 Hardware their publications are worth having a look into http://www.guerrilla-games.com/publications/
It is probably the only European game company next to Crytek, building a proprietary shooter engine and a game (these guys are dutch by the way ;) ).

Thanks!! I've already browsed through several of their presentations, and certainly bookmarked this page for more thorough inspection!

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PostPosted: 2012-04-06, 15:28 
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You guys - thinking like designers again, so that's good thing. When I need materials so I can turn a mapper loose, I want my own materials. Coming from a world were all you need is a texture file to make maps, to Cafu, where things look real good ( I blame Carston ), I know that I need an artist, not an engineer to make the materials. If I can get them the tools, and get them a realtime or short time process loop, then they can experiment and do what artists do to make art.
How about this :
1. Start with a texture file
2. Edit diffusemap, normalmap, specularmap with gimp/others in "artistic" way
3. View in Materialviewer.
4. If it doesn't look good, go back to step 2.

There are probably ways to make this loop faster, add a file watcher into the materialviewer to reload the material when it or its components are saved ( -artist )...


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PostPosted: 2012-04-07, 10:37 
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Well, yes. ;-)
As mentioned above, the next big step would be to integrate todays Material Viewer with the CaWE Material Browser, which currently is a "dialog" that is used by the Map, GUI and Model Editors.

While some of the functionality is already there, we'd still need to expand it, mostly to have it show materials in 3D with dynamic lighting, and to improve it's material editing capabilities. (The implementation details could include a file system watcher as well. Or just a F5 key for reloading the materials.)

If you wish to help, it would be very welcome!

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