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  #1  
Old 01-04-2010, 03:21 AM
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mwilson914 mwilson914 is offline
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Photoshop CS4 Normal Map Creation

I've been creating my own colorschemes lately and I've been trying to progress as quickly as I can with Photoshop CS4. I've been using CS4 for almost a whole month and on Windows Vista 64 bit. I've not found any plugin support on this version of Windows that works to create normal maps.

So, I begin my journey in creating normal maps as accurately as I possibly could and tonight I seemed to nail this procedure down to a fine art. (for now anyway.)

I've eliminated quite a number of steps and reduced the comlexity which plagued my way of doing this for the past week. So here it goes:

###FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY TO ACHIVE AN ACCURATE NORMAL MAPPING (_n) FILE###

*Steps 1-3 can be used to convert the main picture file to your specular mapping (_s) file. This is my personal preference. If you decide not to use specular mapping you can first edit your file with rivets and panel lines, etc. as a transparent layer over your original color scheme file.

The specular mapping file is less complex in color and texture than the main .tga file, therefore easier to edit and convert to a normal mapping file.

**Also note that it is not necessary to use a specular mapping file for the finished color scheme.


1.) convert to Grayscale
1.a) edit to fit your specular mapping needs (not in this tutorial)
2.) convert back to RGB
3.) filter/noise/despecle
----3a) (At this point you will create your "specular map "_s" file to suite your liking")

4.) Save _s file to 3 file names for red, green and blue channels for the finished file.
(these RGB files will follow instructions below)
4a.) Use a another file to past each final red, green, blue files into the channels of the finished normal mapping file.


5.) Instructions to manually create "_n" file:

(5A)
***RED FILE***
Filter / Stylize / Emboss
-Angle 180 degrees
-Height 4 pixels
-Amount 33%

(5a-1)
Image / Adjustments / contrast/brightness
Image Brightness Adjustment
increase to 18% brightness
----------------------------------------------
(5B)
***GREEN FILE***
Filter / Stylize / Emboss
-Angle 90 degrees
-Height 4 pixels
-Amount 33%

(5b-1)
Image / Adjustments / contrast/brightness
Image Brightness Adjustment
increase to 17% brightness
----------------------------------------------
(5C)
***BLUE FILE***
Filter / Stylize / Emboss
-Angle -42 degrees
-Height 4 pixels
-Amount 33%

(5c-1)
Image / Adjustments / contrast/brightness
Image Brightness Adjustment
increase to 70% brightness
----------------------------------------------

Copy each final flattened layer red, green, blue, file into your channels for the file which will end with "_n.tga". Save as your "_n.tga" file and you are done.

I will provide screenshots later this week because the tutorial file I created is much to large to attach unfortunately. I hope these written instructions provide some assistance for the time being.

Regards,

Matt (mwilson914)
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:12 PM
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I'm hoping to get photo's attached to this thread tonight before I go to bed--I'm currently at work.

I thought while I was thinking about something, I should post it before I forget. When you emboss a picture/selection, white is raised, black is indented on the surface. If you have something in your picture that is dark such as text or something else you want raised, you just click on the styles and select "Invert". It is a layer mask which either inverts the entire picture or just what you have selected, so this tool becomes very useful. Using "invert" has one major advandate over "negative" in that it does not affect RGB color.

I'll post more tips as I think of them.
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:27 PM
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Maj. Numbskully Maj. Numbskully is offline
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CS3 allows normals mapping

not in CS4?????

Or you can always use Gimp for your n_tga

And as irecall if you are using an Nvidea graphcs card
thier are plug ins/programs availible check this cool one out:
http://developer.nvidia.com/object/melody_home.html

Last edited by Maj. Numbskully; 01-04-2010 at 01:29 PM.
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maj. Numbskully
CS3 allows normals mapping

not in CS4?????

Or you can always use Gimp for your n_tga

And as irecall if you are using an Nvidea graphcs card
thier are plug ins/programs availible check this cool one out:
http://developer.nvidia.com/object/melody_home.html
Unfortunately I tried those plugins. I re-installed my graphics card drivers and also found new drivers that were a couple months newer than my previous ones. I follwed all instructions to a tee, but it still errored out when running the script. I found in several forums for Photoshop that these plug-ings don't work on 64 bit versions of Vista.

I might still try Gimp. The install is sitting in my documents folder in case I want to try it.

I will be moving on to Windows 7 before too much longer, but for now this was my work around that created some amazing results for me last night. In the least, it's really cool in my book to run with a manual procedure that delivers the same final results in comparison to a ready-made "_n.tga" file. I'm a command line guy so doing things like this are fun for some reason.
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thegibson
have you tried 'xnormal'? its real similar to the nvidia plug in, its free and works with vista64 LINK
Thanks for this link. When I get home tonight I will try this one out.
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  #6  
Old 01-04-2010, 01:40 PM
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Maj. Numbskully Maj. Numbskully is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mwilson914
it's really cool in my book to run with a manual procedure that delivers the same final results in comparison to a ready-made "_n.tga" file. .
yes it is!!!
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Old 01-04-2010, 02:04 PM
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FYI: 4 pixel offsets make things look pretty deep.

For screws and panel lines 2 pixels may be better, and 4 pixels may be more applicable for things like cowl edges on planes where the cowl is not separately modeled.

This makes generating normal/bump files a bit more complex.

It is better to generate several separate detail layers, generate bump maps for each and merge them into one final file that contains the varying depths.

Photoshop's layer blending options permit you to do this ( e.g. using "difference", "overlay" etc... ).

Also the direction of the 2-4 pixel offset determines if something will appear to be raised or recessed.
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Old 01-04-2010, 02:38 PM
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[QUOTE=opjose]FYI: 4 pixel offsets make things look pretty deep.

For screws and panel lines 2 pixels may be better, and 4 pixels may be more applicable for things like cowl edges on planes where the cowl is not separately modeled.

This makes generating normal/bump files a bit more complex.

It is better to generate several separate detail layers, generate bump maps for each and merge them into one final file that contains the varying depths.

Photoshop's layer blending options permit you to do this ( e.g. using "difference", "overlay" etc... ).

Also the direction of the 2-4 pixel offset determines if something will appear to be raised or recessed.[/QUOTE]

I was trying to figure out the blening options last night actually (e.g. difference and overlay, etc.) and I have the use of overlay in one of my very basic examples, but until I get this perfected I had to leave it out.

As far as the pixel offsets, you guys are absolutely right. I have been using anywhere between 1 pixel up to 6 for my tests and have used seperate offsets in the same file. Anything above 5 really is pushing the boundry of looking good or bad based on the applications I've required at this point.

My tutorial is definately just a first step in the process, but using this as a foundation really opens the door for me to progress to more complex projects. I plan on doing some other tutorials as well on highlighting rivets and panel lines on a basic CS which has no normal mapping file. I've done this already, but used a different meathod altogether which I've now moved beyond as it was extremely complex.

Everyday I learn something new and I'm glad to have you all provide input in these threads. It really helps us all.
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Old 01-04-2010, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thegibson
im using 1 pixel for panel lines and generate my bump map from a single layer. go look at my jet model to see the result
For my information: Are you talking about the Optica?

If not which plane?
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Last edited by opjose; 01-04-2010 at 04:15 PM.
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Old 01-06-2010, 12:59 PM
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[QUOTE=opjose].....It is better to generate several separate detail layers, generate bump maps for each and merge them into one final file that contains the varying depths.

Photoshop's layer blending options permit you to do this ( e.g. using "difference", "overlay" etc... )........
QUOTE]

WOW! I got to play with Photoshop again for a couple hours yesterday evening and used the layer blending option "overlay". It's real cool doing everything I need now in one file. I'll play around with "difference" hopefully tonight at some point. I'm working on the Furion 450 CS and seperating various elements to get the exact varying depths I want. I did just the ESC last night and I'll mess with the canopy and the battery tonight. I'll be creating my own design on the canopy, so it won't be a job I'll finish too quickly.

From this project, I'll be writing my most refined tutorial, with pictures to suppliment the instructions. So, in a sense, this tutorial is already somewhat obsolete, but it's still the basic forming foundation. I'll edit the original post in this thread when I'm ready.

I'll eventually find some way to use the plug-ins or use gimp for my future normal mapping needs, but I like seeing what all I can do manually. I believe this helps me better understand the fundamentals of how things work. Learning in this fashion forces me to understand every little detail, and it allows me to develop more creative ways of using tools.
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Old 01-07-2010, 02:08 PM
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The shadow layer blending option in Photoshop permits you to set the direction, depth, curve, etc. of a shadow.

If you decrease the shadow offset to 2-3 pixels you have the foundation for a Normal/Bump map.

And since you can set the shadow direction for each layer separately, you can put things you want to raise on one layer, things you want to recess on another, etc. etc.... then merge the layers into one layer you can use for the bump/normal map.

I did this with the Nitroplanes 1.20 Ultimate colorscheme to get the edge of the cowl to appear properly ( it receeds at the break ), while getting things like screw heads to rise "up" out of the scheme.

Needless to say I had to play with many interations and tests, to determine which direction a shadow had to be cast to get it to appear as a recessed item or something that rises out of the colorscheme....
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Old 01-07-2010, 03:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by opjose
The shadow layer blending option in Photoshop permits you to set the direction, depth, curve, etc. of a shadow.

If you decrease the shadow offset to 2-3 pixels you have the foundation for a Normal/Bump map.

And since you can set the shadow direction for each layer separately, you can put things you want to raise on one layer, things you want to recess on another, etc. etc.... then merge the layers into one layer you can use for the bump/normal map.

I did this with the Nitroplanes 1.20 Ultimate colorscheme to get the edge of the cowl to appear properly ( it receeds at the break ), while getting things like screw heads to rise "up" out of the scheme.

Needless to say I had to play with many interations and tests, to determine which direction a shadow had to be cast to get it to appear as a recessed item or something that rises out of the colorscheme....
Thanks for that info Opjose.

I did download and install x-normal yesterday too just before I went to bed. It installed within a minute and the plugin showed up immediately in my filters list with no problems at all. I tried several different settings, but wasn't able see what this plugin is fully capable of. Each normal map sample I created just didn't carry enough depth/detail as what I can accomplish with my manual procedure. I'm sure that once I become more familiar with it's apllicable use I'll achieve better results. I'm also looking forward to any tips right off the bat from anyone willing to post.

The one thing I was doing the manual way was to create a grayscale template layer over the main RGB file and then embossing the appropriate image segments into 3 RGB channel masks. I've got so much control over my end result doing things this way (e.g. pixel height, direction, seperation strength, hard/smooth edges, etc.) Since I work in grayscale, I can invert my image selection with the click of a button. I'll definately be trying out your suggestions since you've been doing this longer. I'm always open to executing less work since time management, as a husband and father, usually doesn't work out in my favor.

I'll check back often and update the thread as I reach various results, ask for help, etc.
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Old 04-21-2010, 04:29 PM
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I have photoshop CS4 and the Nvidia plugins work fine for me,i downloaded the normal map plugin from the link below and its great.See pic

http://developer.nvidia.com/object/p...s_plugins.html

Its what i used for the normal map on my Avatar Scorpion.
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File Type: jpg Untitled-1.jpg (321.8 KB, 21 views)
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Old 04-21-2010, 06:28 PM
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Which operating system are you using. I had tried numerous times with the NVIDEA plugin, but it just never wanted to work on my system. I have Windows Vista 64 bit Home Edition.

I haven't created any normal maps in a while and I almost forgot about this thread. The couple of CS's I've done in the past few months I either didn't do normal maps or I custom created them without the filter plugin. I like the results I get by my manual method, which I still have to write up a complete procedure on that.

Anyways, let me know your operating system and I may have a go at that again. Xnormal works flawlessly though, so I haven't bothered with any additional plugins in a while.
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Old 04-22-2010, 03:32 AM
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I am running Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit
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