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05-09-2006, 05:24 PM   #1
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Velusion's Avatar
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Utah, USA
Posts: 369
Normal Map mystery
I've been searching for info on normal maps. I've found a handful of tutorials and other reference material. I've seached through all of my Maya and Mental Ray books. I seached this board too. After all that searching and reading, the only information that made any sense at all to me was this.

"All those little wrinkles and stuff aren't really there. They're created by the normal map and the light source(s). A bump map would always show the same thing regardless of the light direction. Normal maps take light direction into account. Results are more realistic than regular bump maps."

Other information seems to be suggesting the same thing; a "high powered bump map"... yet other sources suggest that normal maps are only used in video games for realtime surface information.

I remember seeing a behind the scenes clip from The HULK that showed the CGI hulk's head with a normal map on it.

Can someone explain what all the mystery about normal maps is?

What is the actually purpose of a normal map and what is it's typical application?

How is it different from bump maps?

If it's so good, then why use bump maps?

I went to Vlad's site and I noticed that he uses normal maps and his models are fantastic but that doesn't explain why he used them. Vlad, if you're reading this, please shed some light on the subject. I'm not lazy but the truth is that I can't find any info on normal maps that doesn't dance around the subject. Help!!
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