Understanding Texture Components

I’ve been hearing about bump maps, diffuse maps, and occlusion maps amongst other things for some time now, but have had no idea how to use them in Blender. I’m looking to create these to complement the meshes I create in blender.

Is it possible to 1) preview or 2) create such maps in Blender? If so, how should I go about this process, and if not, what are the best alternatives to use?

  1. Is there any way to export texture maps to Photoshop?

Amongst other things, Diffuse map or color part of the bunch of different maps - images is probably the most important one you could ‘glue’ on your object. All you need is blank image and so called UV map which says what part of image comes where on object.
As you see all bumps into UV map.
Let’s assume you have it. It can be exported as an image from blender’s UV editor window and can be further used to assist any other map’s painting in any image editor available.
To further improve object’s look in 3d and determine how it’s surface reacts to the lights thrown at it, several other ‘maps’ - images which are ‘mapped’ using UV coordinates can be used - reflection map, specular highlights map, bump map/maps, normal map, AO map. Each does it’s part to how colors look on object. First two are self explanatory, normalmap - improved bump map; AO - ambient occlusion map which says that creases, dents, gaps look more dark usually.
All of them can be ‘Baked’ - generated in Blender using Blender Render engine (Render tab, down below) and further used in any image editor (see above - UV map part).
Hope helps.

Thanks, but I already had a general idea of what they did. I was wondering how (what I have to do) to render them in Blender, because when I preview normal texture maps they just show up really dark and flat. I don’t know how to add these additional maps.

Is there any way to apply these maps (reflection map, specular highlights map, bump map/maps, normal map, AO map) to models in blender?

Yes, they are all parts of what make up your materials and textures, you can do them in Blender but some are easier to do outside of it. How you make them and the steps involved in using them will depend on what renderer you are using and what other software you have to make them. It’s a rather lengthy topic to try and outline in a thread like this, so I would recommend you start looking at tutorials around the web and then come back with any specific questions you may have.

Some suggestions for starting points are:

wiki.blender.org/index.php/Doc:2.6/Manual/Materials
cgcookie.com/blender/
www.blenderguru.com
www.blendernerd.com/