Painting normal maps directly with sculpt tools

Is there a way to make the sculpt tools paint a normal map directly on your mesh instead of modifying the mesh itself?

Sculpt is pretty slow, even with a good graphics card, and I was looking for ways to play with this without letting smaller details bog my laptop down.

Not with the sculpt tools. You can use the paint tools to paint on bump maps (not sure about normals) which will get you some of the way there.

That is interesting, since you would sculpt those fine details and then bake to a low poly version to get the normal map. You can paint a bump map directly in blender and see the effect using GLSL, but the normal map uses colors to drive all three axis of the normal to fake the detail, so it isn’t something you can just paint on, at least not that I have seen. There are photoshop plugins that enable this kind of painting, but only as a repair and not for extreme details.

nDo2 has a nice suite of normal painting tools. Painting on model in real time with visual feedback would probably put quite a bit of stress on the GPU to keep up, especially with 4k+ resolutions.

DON’T paint on a normal map, they’re not just pretty colours. they are embedded data maps. the “colours” are just a visual representation of the data, you can’t paint it with regular paint, no matter how purple it is.

Well, since a normal map is really a 2D representation of 3D structures in a way the sculpt tools would be ideally suited to paint it directly instead of having to bake those fine details and change the resolution of the mesh and break your workflow (and learn a new one.) Sculpting the normal map or bump map instead of the mesh.

It clearly doesn’t exist and maybe I’m oversimplifying it, but thanks for answering my question :slight_smile: