Nathan Throckmorton (alshazar)

1 answer · asked · Lesson: Height Maps Vs. Normal Maps · Course: Normal Map Modeling for Games

Height/Bump Map vs Normal Map vs. Displacement Maps

So I am struggling to understand a concept and this is the only place that I can see it addressed. My primary purpose is character and prop modelling for games. I understand that normal maps will work well for objects that don't deform, but for characters and animated objects, do normal maps work effectively?

I have created a high poly creature model and done the retopology on it down to a reasonable level of detail. I am trying to bake the high poly details onto a map that I can use on a rigged and animated version of the lower poly version to import into Unity.

I have tried to use normal maps and displacement maps, but things get a little funky when baking onto the low poly model. Am I going about it the right way? What is a normal workflow for character height/normal map creation in a game workflow? How does that compare to a cinematic workflow that can use higher polycounts and higher resolution maps?

Any way you can clarify the high level view of these workflows would help me get over this roadblock.

  • crew

    I understand that normal maps will work well for objects that don't deform, but for characters and animated objects, do normal maps work effectively?

    Yes! Just be sure to use tangent space normal maps, which is the default that you're already familiar with. 

    It sounds like you're going about the workflow the right way. The process is the same as what you'll see here: https://cgcookie.com/course/texturing-game-assets-with-blender

    The only real difference is exactly that - high polycounts and higher resolution. The process of baking is still the same. 

    Good luck!