Not sure if i can recommend any papers - wikipedia, polycount forums maybe, google at the end.
Try this for a starters.
First, i might have messed up something in previous example but this file uses 3 ways to bump things up - http://www.pasteall.org/blend/30047
- Bump node which converts gray height map into normal vectors output
- Displacement input on material Output node
For other applications difference considered between normal and bump mapping is that “bumping” doesn’t create shadow while normalmap kinda does. Correct me on previous but in general there is minimal visual difference between both; normalmaps are considered better. Here in Cycles nodes Bump node produces vectors which work like normalmap result by “turning” reflected light rays so i assume difference is minimal if there is some.
Blurring. I did say “turning” vectors above. If you have BW image there is no gradual transition on border between black and white it just flips from one possible state to another. Visually that doesn’t look good 9 times out of 10.
Black, 50% gray, white is the same as “below”, zero level, “above” for all these bumping things. Make your maps accordingly and use blur between levels. Bumping and normalmaps can build just a limited height illusion; do not try to push them too far.
I do use Gimp and normalmap addon from Gimp Registry only.