View Full Version : Texture Maps vs Procedural textures?

04-20-2004, 10:56 AM
Anythoughts on whether it's best to use image maps to achieve textures and surfaces than procedurals, providing one can access quality images?

I've always felt that I was spinning wheels trying to perfect procedural approximations of wood, brick, and other surfaces. Since I have a good digital camera, I've thought, 'why not shoot the textures I need, and apply them in LW?'

I wanted to gather opinions and others' experiences before I chuck procedurals..are there pitfalls? or, is it understood that procedurals are best for certain types of things, like glass and chrome, but not ideal for things like wood, cloth, brick...maybe distressed surfaces?

thanks for any input!


04-20-2004, 11:34 AM
This page has a good general description of pros and cons of procedurals-


They have their place but yes, some things are hard to simulate beliavably with them.

04-21-2004, 01:14 AM
I wouldnt toss the proceedurals just yet. A lot can be done with them especially when combined with image maps.

04-21-2004, 03:35 AM
I agree with Larry... think of using images as components of procedurals, and you get the most out of them. Once you get a few basics down, you won't want to be constrained to images.


04-25-2004, 09:48 PM
The comparison on the darksim site referenced in bloontz' post is a pretty good one except for 1 item:

Procedurals / Advantages / Placement

I'd give that advantage to image maps, especially when coupled with UV mapping.

Regarding bloontz' comment:
>>some things are hard to simulate beliavably with them.
Sure anything like traditional artwork (text, a soda can label, etc.) is virtually impossible to achieve procedurally, but when it comes to random noise or very non-random but mathmatically definable patterns such as waves, procedurals really show their strength. Some of the most believable texturing work I've ever seen was done at least in part procedurally. Especially if you include gradients (or shaders) as procedurals. I think a general rule of thumb is the more specific control you need over placement or color of specific surface locations, the more you need to use image maps.

Another important consideration is where the final rendering of the model will take place as LW procedurals, gradients, or shaders aren't portable to other rendering engines. But then too you can bake those procedurals down to image maps before exporting the models provided you've created UV coodinates on the model.

Procedurals are a great tool which I think are one of LW's greatest texturing pipeline strengths.

04-26-2004, 12:36 AM
Well drawn (or photo manipulated) texture maps are still the main part of my work, that being low poly game characters - no procedurals allowed, and high poly meshes, mainly aircraft, at home.

The aircraft generally need hi-rez texture maps, with spec, bump, diffuse etc. That said, I nearly always add a small amount of procedural bump to roughen up a painted surface, or for that matter on any of the channels.