Height/Greyscale Image to Tangent Normal via Material Nodes?

Just wondering, since I don’t know enough about 3D graphics, and what kind of math goes into these kinds of things. Don’t be too harsh on me, I’m still learning.

But, is there a way, that isn’t super complicated, to create a Tangent Space normal map from a greyscale image or height map using nodes in the Material editor?

Probably a silly question, I know, but I’m actually wondering.

I have tried to figure out how I might use the Parallax Nodes for this task, but I haven’t figured out if I can or how to do it.

Maybe if you layer different colors at different transparencies together?
Otherwise use a mesh and just bake the normals over would be my suggestion.

Well, if I’m being honest. I’m trying to make normal maps on-the-fly. I’m looking for a method I could use that takes the blended grunge maps in a material node tree that are used to add extra texture detail, like dirt, and add depth to them, like broken concrete. The issue with baking, is that I would have to do it for every object that has the same material applied to it and I’m trying to make it as simple as I can in terms of re-usable materials.

You could say I’m just trying to be lazy, but I’m trying to “work smarter, not harder”. I’ve tried looking up information on Tangent Space normals, but I’m not as mathmatically inclined as some to figure out how it all works.

You’ll have to do a finite-difference approximation and some linear algebra to generate the normal map from the height map.
Then you’d have to do the tangent to viewspace conversion to do the bump mapping, which can be done via the new Normal Map node.

I’d suggest learning GLSL and writing your own fragment/vertex shaders.