Normal Maps(Bump Maps), Displacement and Baking

A bump map makes a flat surface look like it has sections removed even though nothing has been removed. It is a way to add detail. Bump maps uses grey-scale.

maxresdefaultFor example, in this picture it looks like the creator had to use a tool to put the lines in between the bricks. However he has actually used a bump map to make it look like this.

The opposite of bump mapping is displacement mapping. This is when you manually change the surface of an object.


As you can see in this image, the details of this arm has been manually created and isn’t an illusion.

It is now my turn to use normal maps and baking. The first thing I did today was make a box. I made it low poly because it would be easy to work with. I then made another box, I started with the same box as I made before, but it wasn’t limited to low poly. The picture on the left is the high poly box. The picture on the right is a wireframe version of the box.

I had to overlap the low poly box and the high poly box to make it easier to bake. I then had to change the settings before I baked it. A list of the settings are below.

Bake settings

The target mesh is the mesh that you want to be baked, in my case it is the low poly box.The source mesh is the mesh that is going to be used to create a normal map which I will be showing later in this post. The source mesh is the high poly mesh. You then set the envelope, this sets the area that Maya is looking in to create the normal map. It has to be over all the detail that you want to be baked. In the Maya Common Output area you can change the settings so that you get the quality you want.

After you have baked the low poly mesh should look like the high poly mesh. On the left is the low poly after baking. The image on the right is the wire-frame of the low poly box. It doesn’t change so the wire-frame image is of the original box that I started with.

Finally I am going to show you my normal map. This is made while you bake your mesh.



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