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How to make normal maps from real surfaces

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Date Added: 9th December 2009
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736_tid_crossrenders3.jpg
I've devised a way to capture normal and displacement maps from real 3D surfaces. It's easy!  Just follow the steps below.

Materials

You need these things:

1. Digital Camera
2. Computer with Photoshop and Nvidia's Texture Tools
3. Movable light-source
4. Subject.  (In this example, Subject is a bowl of peanuts.)

736_tid_camera.jpg
Camera
736_tid_UltimateComputer.jpg
Computer
736_tid_flashlight.jpg
Light source

736_tid_subject.jpg
Subject

Step 1

With your camera fixed, photograph your subject four times, lighted from each of four directions.  You'll want to experiment with the elevation of your light.  Light from a low angle, but not so low that your subject is obscured by its own shadow.

736_tid_above.jpg
Lit From Above
736_tid_left.jpg
Lit From Left

736_tid_below.jpg
Lit From Below
736_tid_right.jpg
Lit From Right

Step 2

Crop your photographs, and convert them to grayscale.

736_tid_north2.jpg
Lit From Above
736_tid_west2.jpg
Lit From Left

736_tid_south2.jpg
Lit From Below
736_tid_east2.jpg
Lit From Right


Step 3

Create a new image (hereafter called "AboveLeft"),  with your Above-lighted photograph for a green channel, and your Left-lighted photograph for a red channel.

736_tid_NorthWest3.jpg
AboveLeft:
green channel = Lit From Above
red channel = Lit From Left



continued on next page >

 
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