View Full Version : Normal Maps for Lightwave

05-03-2003, 06:02 PM
Iketeru... this is a great plug-in for you real-time people (Jin... )


Now back to work...

05-03-2003, 09:01 PM
Hell, its a great plugin for anyone non realtime who wants to severly reduce rendertimes.


05-03-2003, 09:05 PM
Originally posted by Mike_RB
Hell, its a great plugin for anyone non realtime who wants to severly reduce rendertimes.Yeah, I'm using it for some stone floors right now ^_^!! It's great that it's using it correctly in the Lightwave renderer. I don't know of any 3D app that uses normal maps at render time.

05-03-2003, 09:10 PM
there are plugins for maya, xsi and max already. We are the last to get this functionality.


05-03-2003, 09:11 PM
Now I know ^_^!

05-03-2003, 09:17 PM
Hey Mike,

Isn't this an alternative to that other method that I can't think of that Renderman does? My mind is numb, or I'm just dumb.

05-03-2003, 09:32 PM
what method?

05-03-2003, 09:34 PM
I really can't find the link. It was a feature request here a while back. The example had a dinosaur with bumpy skin...

05-03-2003, 09:38 PM
lamont, you're a freak. Stop watching this thread like a hawk. I think the renderman thing you're talking about is Micropoly displacement. It's like our bump displacement except you dont have to subdivide the object at all, it subdivides at rendertime to the level it needs to get the detail in the map, and its apperently lightening fast.... So no. Normal maps have nothing to do with with actually making displacements (micropoly or not).


05-03-2003, 09:44 PM
Originally posted by Mike_RB
lamont, you're a freak. Stop watching this thread like a hawk.Ehhh... I use Pop Peeper so I get alerts, besides, when fiance is 6000 miles away... and I'm always on the comp if I ain't playing games or reading. And I'm workin' ^_^! I know, exscuses... I am a looser.

Originally posted by Mike_RB
the renderman thing you're talking about is Micropoly displacement. Ahhh!! That's it!! ^_^!!!

Originally posted by Mike_RB
Normal maps have nothing to do with with actually making displacements (micropoly or not).Yeah, I knew that.. but I wasn't sure of the micro-poly method. Cool, I knew you'd make sense of what I was trying to say...

05-03-2003, 10:12 PM

This works really really well... I need to give it a shot with quemloss3 poly reducer, which keeps morphs intact!


05-03-2003, 10:16 PM
Yeah, QuemLoss3 is so badass.. I love the control it gives.

This plug-in rocks...

jin choung
05-04-2003, 01:07 AM


Dude! MarvinL is my motherf#$$ing HERO!!!

and lamont, you are his herald!


wow... i've been aware of the ati plugins for max and maya and there was an ORB normal mapping program that was an external app that did this that was free as well but nothing for lw specifically....

well, there is another commercial app but it's mucho bucks and it looks like this free plugin does the same thing for free!

awesome. awesome. awesome.

yah, i think the next version of our engine is going to have normal mapping too so this is gonna be super useful.

plus, the fact that there's a normal map shader allows us to use low poly proxies in non RT projects for objects that are in background and such for super fast, optimized renders!

if marvin didn't provide us with a normal map renderer inside lw, we'd have to rely purely on bump maps (to the same effect) but fortunately, marvin provides a method of encoding the hi poly info into a bump map too!

marvin landis, you rock!

and thanks again lamont.

boy, i can't wait to start generating mods and stuff for the next gen games like doom3, half-life2, thief3, etc. woo hoo!


jin choung
05-04-2003, 01:30 AM

it doesn't make grey scale maps so you can apply it as a bump map.

no big diggie cuz he has indeed included a lw normal map shader.

but it would be really cool to have the option to generate a grey scale map too so that one day, when SDS UV MAPPING is fixed, we can apply the grey scale map as a DISPLACEMENT MAP!!!

that would be a great way to generate a really hi rez, frozen poly model with lots of ultra detailed bevels and such, then simply bake the detail as a displacement map to be applied to the more manageable, un-super-detailed SDS cage!

it's the stuff that they did on nurbs models for LOTR...

anyhoo, neat stuff. i may email marvin about it though.


05-04-2003, 02:12 AM
dvix 5.03


1.93 mb


PS: jin, email martin about it, I already have and if we pester him enough....


05-04-2003, 03:33 AM
another example of this plugin in action:



05-04-2003, 09:35 AM
Yeah, Marvin is badass...

I'm going to have fun with this. I'm working on some stuff now...

05-04-2003, 02:21 PM
microwave is the commercial plug in for Lightwave that uses normal map technology. I don't think there's any plugin for XSi that utilizes the normalmap technology. The downside of normal map is that it doesn't smooth edges.

05-04-2003, 02:23 PM
microwave is the commercial plug in for Lightwave that uses normal map technologyI know... now I don't have to buy it ^_^!!

This plug-in is soooo cool... can't wait to set up SockMonkey with it...

05-04-2003, 09:22 PM
Yeah, but there isa way to hook up rendering of normal maps and baking of them natively in xsi with shaders.


jin choung
05-05-2003, 03:27 AM
hey har har,

if you're referring to the silhouette, that's absolutely correct. the silhouettes will still look faceted.


look how freakin' incredible it looks nonetheless!

for RT games, if you can have models that have 500 polys but look like they have millions except for the silhouette, i think most gamers could live with it.

the BIGGEST deal of course is that the normal map RESPONDS TO THE LIGHTS!!! so if you have a swinging lamp on the ceiling, the shadow underneath a normal mapped pectoral or cheek bone will respond and swing about as well.

if you see it in motion, i don't think you'll pay much attention to the silhouette.

for lw LOD proxies, the edges may end up being unnoticeable... or perhaps soon, we'll be able to use displacement maps.


05-05-2003, 09:36 PM
I think the plugin has some bugs as I'm unable to create a normalmap with the createnormalmap plugin, it renders out an empty image file. And I can't render objects with Normalmapshader applied, although the normalmap renders fine with Microwave's normalshader.

05-05-2003, 09:53 PM
You're missing a step it seems...

Go through what steps you take...

05-06-2003, 07:47 AM
put high res object in first layer
put low res object in 2nd layer
create atlas UV map for both objects
run plug in
save map

add plugin to shader in layout
apply normal map in UV mode

05-06-2003, 07:57 AM
1st and second dont matter, low rez needs to be foreground, and hirez needs to be background

05-06-2003, 10:21 AM
All I can say is this friggen rocks. I was thinking you had to
have the same uvmap as on your high res model. which would mean you would have to use qemloss 3... Not the case! I creat a totally seperate map for my high and lowres model and it somehow figures it all out for me :)

rabid pitbull
07-16-2004, 09:38 AM
ok, I know this is an ancient thread now, but was searching for some answers and it came up.

My question is will this plugin allow the use of zbrush 2 normal maps in lightwave?

07-16-2004, 10:05 AM
Policarpo has managed to use ZBrush normal maps with LightWave, look here:


07-16-2004, 02:09 PM
I've been using the normal mapper plug with zbrush. I'm still learning but the results look good so far.

Here is an image of the zbrush model progression:


This is lightwave render with zbrush generated model, normal map and textures - no SSS yet:


Still a work in progress. I'm doing this as a test to understand the workflow possibilities with zbrush and the normal mapper shader. I just wish it worked with fprime :rolleyes:

Here is a test render with morphmixer applied to the model along with the nomal map shader plug:

Normal_map_morph_test (http://www.nemac4.com/files/render.mpg)

rabid pitbull
07-16-2004, 03:51 PM
Thanks for getting me up to speed! Those test look great, very nice to know that it is possible to get zbrush and lw working so well together.

Just about to take the plunge and get zbrush just cant put it off any longer.:) I figure at the very least it will be a nice way to get some excellent looking detailed models done fast.

As far as Zbrush goes how is its built in renderer? Does it produce decent results compared to LW? How about speed. Speeking of speed does the normal map plugin work in conjunction with fprime? I have seen that the displacement plugin by lynx works well with fprime.

Ok enough questions... sorry to hijack this thread btw. :(

07-16-2004, 04:07 PM
The displacement plug gives me problems,.. but I've not tried the new version. It tends to lock up LW8 (for me anyway) when I use the normal mapper shader with the normal displacement plugs. By itself,.. it works fine and works with fprime as well.
The normal shader,.. being a shader does not currently work with fprime.

07-17-2004, 10:33 PM
Originally posted by jin choung
dang, it doesn't make grey scale maps so you can apply it as a bump map.
Does so too, (sort of)! Bottom left hand corner, it asks you if you want to save a displacement map. This generates a monochrome image which can be used as a bump, the caveat being that the low res model must be entirely inside or entirely outside the high res one.


10-30-2004, 06:48 AM
Good thread, thanks..

Is there a way to bake or combine the bumpmaps into normal maps? The high poly would have procedural bump maps etc, is there a way to combine those little bump details among with the surface normals from real geommetry?? Do we need Microwave to do this?

Also, I'd want to bake the ambient occlusion information into the low poly model, to combine with the colormap, baking the colors of a totally white object in radiosity or fake skydome. We'd probably need the high poly one to get an accurate ambient occlusion map, but how would we put that in the lowpoly's uv map????

Thanks guys..

08-05-2005, 03:58 AM
Hey Guys. I am having a problem using this normal map plugin... I am probably just doing one thing wrong, but maybe you have heard of this before? Here is what I am doing:

LowRes and HiRes both have UV maps that I created using the Atlas with 20% and whatever other default, and hit the OK button. I didn't do anything else but you can see in the UV window that they are there all spread out just fine...

LowRes in foreground, HiRes in background

NormalMapCreate plugin, using the TGA image and I have actually tried it using the lowres UV map and the hires UV map, but with same result...

I am asked where to save the image, I say OK after naming image file

I then get the error message "No Polygons to Export" and the program then deletes the polygon outlines and leaves me with vertices only in the entire model...

Is this a common problem? Did I make the UVs wrong? Did I skip a step? I just have not been able to grasp why this isn't working; it seems straitforward enough!!!

Thanks. If you want visuals, let me know and i can upload the screenshots.

08-05-2005, 04:49 PM
Do your objects contain subdivision surfaces? If so, you need to freeze them. Both objects should only consist of polygons.

08-06-2005, 04:46 AM
you know, they do not have any subdivision surfaces. And I checked to see if i could freeze it anyway; however, the freeze option isn't even active...

08-06-2005, 01:12 PM
Hmmm... subdivision surfaces is the typical problem when seeing the "No polygons to export" error message. I'm not sure what else I can suggest without seeing your objects. I would be willing to look at the problem if you are willing to send me the objects.

08-06-2005, 03:44 PM
Here are the lwo files... See what you think.

There are 2 layers on each (they are trees, so I would like to keep the leaf surfaces a bit separate until i am done with the model), 3 surfaces (leaves, branches, trunks); the file names make it obvious which is the file with the lesser amount of normals (optimized less).

So, I have been keeping both layers active, putting both layers of the hirez as the background and trying it like that. And getting to that point of the error. Let me know if you have any questions...

Maybe I am doing something wrong, who knows... Check it out if you have a chance; I would really appreciate it!

Thanks a bunch!

08-06-2005, 04:09 PM
here is the other set of files... the rar was split into 4 volumes (somehow the interface was having problems uploading the full rar on its own).


Also, I tried the same process after merging the two layers in both files (so there was only one layer in the modeler to deal with), with the same resulting error...

Thanks so much, maybe you can help me!

08-07-2005, 05:25 PM
I downloaded your files and was able to successfully create a Normal Map with the NormalMapCreate plugin.

Before I describe the step by step approach I took, let me say that these trees aren't really the ideal type of object for normal mapping. There is not a whole lot of detail in the high polygon objects that will translate well into a normal map. The leaves are just individual polys that really won't do anything special in a normal map. And your high polygon trunks aren't that much different from the lo-res ones except for some extra branches and more polygons. Now if your high polygon truck had some indentations for bark, knot holes, and maybe some other imperfections, then a normal map might make sense for the trunks of the trees.

But having said all that, I was still able to get the plugin to create a normal map and here are the steps I took:

1. Load the optimized version of the object.
2. Load the high poly version of the object.
3. Also create a whole new, blank object in which the plugin will eventually be run on.
4. With both layers of the optimized object selected, copy those layers and then paste them into the first layer of the new object.
5. With both layers of the high poly object selected, copy those layers and paste them into the second layer of the new object.
6. Make the first layer of the new object the foreground layer, and the second layer of the new object the background layer.
7. Run the NormalMapCreate plugin. The only parameter that really needs to be changed is the UV map (the lo-res version of the map should be the one selected in the pull-down list).
8. After giving a file name to the Image saver dialog box, the plugin should eventually create and save the normal map.

08-07-2005, 06:27 PM
You are awesome. So, it has to be within the same file. That actually makes a lot of sense. I really appreciate you helping me out with this; this plug-in is really inspiring.

Also, I figured you'd say something about the trees compatibility with the mapping... They are going into a bigger architectural model with more trees, lots of plants, and on top of that, houses which are modeled inside and out, all on a nice land model... I needed something that would allow me to build higher-rez models while still staying within the polygon parameters that our project allows with procs that we have, and I think maybe even if this isn't suited perfectly for trees, it will work on the houses and the other pieces of the model... So, the trees are a test but the normal mapping will most definitely help in many other ways.

I will use your directions and am relieved that this works actually. What a joy to have something so stubbornly tedious become so easy!!


08-07-2005, 08:58 PM
> So, it has to be within the same file.

I just wanted to make one last comment... You should realize that the hi-res and lo-res versions don't actually have to be in the same file. They just need to temporarily be in the same object, as that's the only way Modeler supports a foreground and background layer (which the plugin needs to get access to both sets of polygons). That new, temporary object never needs to be saved to a file. Once the normal map is created, you'll only need the map and the lo-res version of the object in Layout.

08-08-2005, 12:17 AM
The normal map shader from Marvin has problems with objects that are being deformed (doesnt work correctly). There is another normal map shader from TB that does work correctly with bones, etc.
You can find TBs Normal Map shader here:

08-09-2005, 03:10 PM
> Once the normal map is created, you'll only need the map and the lo-res version of the object in Layout.

Thank you for the info; you have been such a help! That last comment is useful too... saves me some wondering. Thanks also to SpineGod for your note as well with the link...

I tell you, this normal mapping stuff rocks now that I can get it to work!!

08-14-2005, 07:33 AM
OK one last thing if you're around...

When I am in Layout and I add the normal map image to surfaces in the surface editor, how to I get the colorations that I want? It somehow is still those dayglo green and pink colors, which are nice, but not what I need... :hey:

08-14-2005, 09:06 AM
You dont add the normal maps to the surface editor you add them thru the shader plugin I mentioned. It has its own texture editor. :)

08-14-2005, 03:23 PM
There is a free video tutorial for Normal Mapping on the the Simply Lightwave website.


08-15-2005, 04:12 AM
You guys are great!! Thanks and I realize how it works now... :lwicon: