No more Heightmaps

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Originally written by oDDity on http://forums.thedarkmod.com/topic/2341

I was taffing around the doomworld fourms and came across a thread about using orb to convert heightmaps to normal maps and combine the two into a single map, but there were questions about the quality of it.

So I've come up with a solution that is equal in quality to having two separate maps:

  • Run the NVidia normal mapper on your heightmap, the trick is to put the samples right down to '4 sample', set the height pretty high, 10-15.
  • Take the result of this and paste it on top of the geometry normal map in overlay mode.
  • That's it, you now have one image instead of two, and the quality is identical.

This technique can also be used to produce superior normal maps using the NVidia plugin. If you were doing floorboards for example, you'd want to render the main gaps between the boards with a high value like 9x9, and the details like woodgrain very crisp and sharp at 4 sample. The way to do this would be to duplicate you image, run the plugin on each at the respective setting, and overlay the sharp one on the blury one, erasing where necessary. This will avoid getting that embossed, molded look that you sometimes get when just running the normal mapper in a generic once over.