First Ever Normal Map

Jeepers, I’m like a kid with a new toy. I started playing with Sharp Construct today, and then found ORB tonight and started testing out a workflow. I made lots of mistakes, learnt a heck of a lot and here’s the result - modelled (low poly) in blender, sculpted (With two subdivs) in SharpConstruct, Normal map generated in ORB and applied to the low poly mesh back in blender. I know it’s not much to shout about - a lot of detail is lost in the low res map, but it’s my first normal map!! Ever!!!

Rendered with, then without the normal map.

Nice. I look how the map gives those wrinkles around the eye and on the top of the nose. I’d be interested to see what it looks like with a higher res map.
I haven’t come across any of those other packages you mentioned. How about putting a few screenshots of your workflow using them please?

Thanks Banni. I plan to re-do this with a better sculpted hi-res mesh (I was rushing - I didn’t have much time to test it) and a higher resolution normal map. I’ll post my workflow and some useful links soon, when I’ve ironed out all the snags.

Question, when I try and import my meshes into ORB, it says that they are not recognizeable, though they are saved as OBJ from SC. Did you have to do anything to them prior to importing to ORB?

Nice work btw.


Thanks, and no, I brought them in no problem. ORB is tricky to master though, it took me a while to get usded to the console interface. Maybe try exporting a model from SC to blender, then to ORB? All my models so far have been generated in blender, modified in SC and brought into ORB.

I worked a little more on the hi-res (250,000 polies) mesh in Sharp Construct. There’s more fine detail to add, but I don’t think I need to sub-div any more.

I want to produce a greyscale bump map to put onto the smooth sub-surf blender model (6,000 polies). I’m currently producing normal maps using ORB, but blender won’t display them as well as I’d like (blender only displays normal maps correctly on a flat plane). Anyone have any ideas?

What do you mean? You have to UV map it. It’s pretty obvious but maybe you haven’t UVed it. Best to be on the safe side.

Robin - yes it’s UV mapped. Blender doesn’t yet support dot3 rgb normal mapping (as seen in Doom3 etc) on anything other than a flat plane. Therefore I want to convert the high res mesh to a greyscale bump or height map which I can apply through the ‘nor’ mapping channel.

Is dot3 rgb normal mapping the normal mapping with real colors? That works in Blender there is a tutorial at

If you scroll down to ‘To do for next release’ you’ll read “…Meaning: normal maps in Blender now only render correct when applied on a flat plane.”

To my knowledge this hasn’t been upgraded to full normal map support yet, but I’d love to be proved wrong. In the meantime I’m planning to use ‘Xnormal’ to generate my bump-map whenever I get time.

Why is a normal map different from an oridanary bump map?
That is some impressive SC modeling there. I cant get it to do what i want.

hope this helps, and correct me if i’m wrong:
-black and white bump maps use the value (darkness, lightness, black, whatever) to calculate bumps, ie: white is higher than black.

-color normal mapping designates angles by using color, therefore you can get a good angle w/o having a super-hires map.

btw, that’s awesome gmanx… i gotta learn to do that.