Mesh-generated normal maps

I was just wondering if Blender has the ability to generated normal maps onto a low-poly character from a high-poly mesh. I know it’s possible in some programs (UT3) but I just thought that would be nice.

Yes, I could bake ambient occlusion and fake normals, but that doesn’t work in realtime lighting. I want to use the model in Nexuiz (open-source FPS), so I consider normal-maps of high priority to quality.

compare this realtime player

to it’s high-poly normal-mesh

which in-game results in

Pretty nice, isn’t it? I don’t want to make it THAT complex, but I like the idea of a normal map that I don’t have to make manually.

Yes . Yes it does :

You mean like this?

What you’re looking for is tangent space normal mapping, which afaik Blender cannot yet bake from a hi to a low poly mesh. I hear it is in the works. Currently only camera space normal mapping can be baked. This can be used on static objects only.

However, Blender can render tangent space normal maps:

Not sure whether the Blender GE can deal with them real-time, however.

I used xNormal to generate the normal maps from high- to low-poly models made in Blender.

Thanks for the replies, it helps a lot.
I don’t want to use it in the game engine, so that’s not a problem, I don’t even need to render it, but I do need my normap to be in B/W, that’s all that nexuiz accepts, should I just be using AO for that? there must be a more accurate way, or is the RGB normap available as a monochrome?

Edit: I also have a mac, so I can’t use artweaver

all normal maps use RGB data regardless of their “space” – the normals direction is encoded in the color. if you’re limited to monochrome (I assume you mean grayscale), then you’re talking about a bump map, which is fundamentally different than a normal map. Bump maps encode a height above/below a mean surface based on gray value (white highest, black lowest, 50% gray at the mean level), producing a pseudo-embossed effect.

There’s an interesting thread here

Someone’s made a blend file with nodes that can make tangent space normal maps. Using them as displacement maps may be another question though.