Baking bump as "normal" map vs generating normal (procedural)

Hey Community,

I have a rather theoretical question, I have a perceived answer, but interested in your opinion :blush:

I work with procedural textures, that I bake into maps. It means I have NO high poly mesh, just the procedural textures.

If you bake a complex set of BW procedural texture through a Bump node, you will end up with a normal-ish kinda map, right? You plug it in, and that’s it. But it is derived from a BW setup.

Now, the question is, would it look better, if you actually generated a normal map from geometry? With procedural texturing, and NO high poly mesh, the only way I see is to bake displacement, add it as modifier, apply it, then bake it back as normal (using CatmulClark or Multires for geometry).

Then, you would still end up with a normal map. But would that be better then simply baking it from your procedural BW setup? As far as I see, it may contain more legit RGB info, but maybe not. I feel like it wouldn’t be worth the hassle.

Or would it? What do you think? :blush:

I think baking from a procedural bump would give more detail than baking from geometry. With actual geometry, you are limited by the number of polygons, but a procedural texture will give a pixel perfect result. Also, you won’t have to use 2 models or multires modifier, so it’s simpler.

You simply pass the black and white setup through a bump node, plug that in the normal of the shader like you are trying to use it as a bump map and then bake the normals. I sometimes also mix the 2 ways, using a high poly model with a procedural material on it for fine details.


Hi there!

Thanks for the answer! I felt the same way, but I was hesitant if the BW to normal bake would be as good in theory.

Now, I will simply head on with the bump version.

Have a great day!
Happy blending! :blush: