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View Full Version : What is "your" normal mapping workflow?



tyrot
11-27-2008, 08:25 AM
dear LWers

Honestly i am confused.. What is "your" Normal Map way to High-Low poly modelling for both organic and hard surface objects?

Possible workflows

All Lightwave: LW for low - high poly modelling (hard surface modelling .eg.scifi guns weapons ships etc)

Question: In this way, Which NormalMAP baker should we use and why?
1- Microwave
2- NormalCast Node (dpont)
3- NormalMap Baker
4- Xnormal
5- Abnormal (the plugin im currently developing everynight!)

Low in LW - High in Others:
1- Low poly modelling in LW (uv)
2- Export to what and why?
a) Zbrush
b) Mudbox
c) 3Dcoat
3- Where to Bake the normals?

Low-High Poly4Others

Zbrush...for modelling
3DCoat for painting?
XNormal or ZMapper for Normal Map?


If you share your workflow with some examples i believe not me only but many game oriented lightwavers will be grateful

Thank you for responses in advance..

Best

zapper1998
11-27-2008, 08:47 AM
wow interesting, hmmm,
I use the Nvidia tool set, and pretty much do it all in LW, do not have z-brush, 3dcoat, XNormal or ZMapper, never heard of the last 2....hmmm
I try to keep it simple work flow..

tyrot
11-28-2008, 06:55 AM
dear zap

is there any problem with low-high poly import export to NVIDIA tools? do you have an example to show?

I think i ll go for ...LW for low poly and 3D coat + LW for hi-poly..and skip all others...lets see..

Best

pming
11-28-2008, 07:14 AM
Hiya.

Totally new at LW (just bought it a few days ago; waiting for arrival), but for how I used to do it was basically:

1a - Low poly cage model in other package
-- OR --
1b - Use Z-Spheres to create low poly then export as .obj.

2 - Detail the hell outta it in ZBrush

3 - Poly-Paint in ZBrush

4 - Export relatively high level mesh into .obj.

5 - Export Normal Map, Texture Map, Bump, Spec, etc...

6 - Open .obj in UltimateUnwrap3D to fine-tune UV maps

7 - Save as (whatever I needed).

8 - Import into XSI or 3DS MAX (the two packages I primarily used before)

9 - Animate, render, etc.

Of course, sometimes I'd have to re-import/tweak the maps once in XSI/3DS, but for the most part that was it.

Now that I'm delving into the realm of LW (adding another tool to my repertoire), it will hopefully be very similar...we'll see.

[EDIT] Oh, forgot to mention that sometimes I'd pop a map into Corel Painter for some 'fine tuning' or adding other little fiddly bits that are just easier there than in ZBrush.


Paul L. Ming

The Dommo
11-28-2008, 09:22 AM
Ace - not heard of that unwrapper before. Out of interest, what were your reasons for buying LW? Have you switched or are you just adding another tool to the knowledgebase?

A good thread this, will be keeping my eye on it. :)

GraphXs
11-30-2008, 09:02 PM
I've done it this way before:

1) Take High-Res OBJ into ZBrush with a UV Map from LW (make-sure UV edges match low-poly version)
2) Sub-D it more add details
3) Save out displacment map (or normal: but somtimes I like the Nvidia one better)
4) Convert Displacement map with NVidia Normal plugin in Photoshop
5)Have to flip UV in photo-shop to corect it from ZBrush flipping it.

or

1) Take Low-Res OBJ into ZBrush with a UV Map from LW
2) Sub-D it more add details
3) Save out low-mesh obj from Z-Brush
3) Save out displacment map (or normal)
4) Convert Displacement map with NVidia Normal plugin in Photoshop

I've used ZMapper in v2, but haven't used it for a long time.

XNormal seems to give good results... sometimes.

I know that the UV's of an object left or right side has to be corrected (fliped) to make the normals act right.

IMI
11-30-2008, 09:36 PM
GraphXs, does the Nvidia p-shop plugin do anything special for the normal map that makes it better for use in LW? I haven't even tried it, but I have done a good deal of what you describe above with ZB and have sometimes had some normal weirdness in LW.
You seem to be implying here that the NVidia plugin makes for a better normal map?

The Dommo
12-01-2008, 05:05 AM
So do you flip the normal map horizontally or vertically?

Why do you need to take Z-Brush generated normal map into photoshop and use the nVidia tool? :S

IMI
12-01-2008, 05:48 AM
So do you flip the normal map horizontally or vertically?

Why do you need to take Z-Brush generated normal map into photoshop and use the nVidia tool? :S

The normal map needs to be flipped vertically after ZBrush is through with them. That goes for all image maps in ZB, because ZB just works with maps and UV's inverted on the V. I'm still trying to figure out why they thought that was a good idea, considering all other apps which use OBJ don't think so... unless they just wanted to be Zdifferent or Zannoying. ;)


Yeah, that's what I'm wondering too - what the purpose of the NVidia plugin is.

pming
12-01-2008, 09:37 AM
Ace - not heard of that unwrapper before. Out of interest, what were your reasons for buying LW? Have you switched or are you just adding another tool to the knowledgebase?

A good thread this, will be keeping my eye on it. :)

Hiya.

Mainly just adding a nice all-around tool after adding a few of the 'specifics' (most recently [year and a bit] : Hexagon, Painter, UltimateUnwrap3d and ZBrush). I mainly use XSI, but haven't upgraded since v4. I definitly will, it's my fave app, but right now I'm wary of what/how Autodesk is going to handle it... Once they get settled and I see what they're going to do with it, then I'll decide. :)

The other programs I'm looking to add over the next few years is Cinema4D (was *almost* going to get this over LW), and Houdini. But Houdini seems a bit of a rip off if you look at what you're missing. Re: Particles, Fluids, Rigid Body, Cloth and 'Wire' are missing in their $2000 package...to get those you need to fork over $8000. Faaaar too expensive. I may have jumped on the $2k version if it had particles and cloth...but at that point I'd probably just upgrade my XSI.

Anyway, yeah, Lightwave has always peaked my interest. I had a college use it waaaay back in '98 when I was at a multimedia company.

Looking forward to playing/learning it. :)

Paul

GraphXs
12-01-2008, 09:43 AM
IMI, no the Nvidia plugin doesn't do anything special, it converts displacment values to normals. I also use it with photoshop bevels for simple lines and details for non-organic stuff. As far as the weridness, sometimes half of the models normals will be inverted, so flipping that UV island and the Photoshop normal fix the problem.

The Nvidia plugin can take any displacment,bump, photo, whaterver and turn it to a Normal. (Layers must be flatten, so it will work right) I'm sure ZMapper will do a better job, but sometimes I found out that it's not always what i want. So I mix and match to get what I want. ZMapper will project the high-res mesh to the low-res one.

I know 3D coat can export multiple maps as well, I will have to try it when I buy it.

IMI
12-01-2008, 09:48 AM
GraphX, Oh OK, I seem to have misread what you wrote. I thought you meant you were running the normal maps through the nvidia plugin for some reason.
Thanks for the info. :) I'll have to try that out some time.

Myagi
12-02-2008, 07:48 AM
I don't do any organic stuff (unless it's extremly simplistic) because I haven't needed it and I'm not good at it, so third party stuff like zbrush might be better for that, don't know.

I have two different pipelines, both entirely in LW. I prefer to keep them in LW because I can bake both normal map and the color texture, using LW's all procedural material stuff and UV gen options. That avoids, what seems to be, the more classic approach of hand painting the color texture, since I'm not an artist.

For making texture "tiles" I use a material shader in combination with an image (post) processing plug to compute the final result. Then just set up the camera to frame the hi-poly object with the desired dimensions, and render using the PSD saver. I get nicely layered PSD containing the normal map, color texture and other goodies. The downside of this would be that because it uses a special material shader you can't get a normal in-LW render as long as the shader is enabled, but no real biggy.

For object skins (ie. uv unwrapped lo-poly vs. hi-poly) I use a propriety modeler plugin. You have a uv mapped low poly model in the FG layer and a hi-poly (complete with LW materials) in the BG and invoke the baker, which outputs all wanted textures.

tyrot
12-02-2008, 01:43 PM
dear myagi

"propriety modeler plugin" ??? which is.....and where is ? :) Can you show us some examples?

and normalmappers ...noone is using normal cast? or Native LW based (low-hi poly) workflow?

Best

Myagi
12-03-2008, 05:06 PM
"propriety modeler plugin" ??? which is.....and where is ? :) Can you show us some examples?

to answer the which, mine. and where, on my computer ;) It's a tool that's part of my main project, where I intended to include the tools for free, but it's quite some time before that project is done if I manage to get it done. I have been thinking about maybe releasing it separately for sale earlier (and/or if newtek would be interested), but I haven't had much time to deal with that. It would require making a demo version and gauging interest, probably registering a bussines and figuring out how to do the payment/delivery.

I don't have that many objects (that I would be comfortable) to show as examples, I ended up with something not too spectacular with lower poly counts but the principle is the same. I've used it on higher poly stuff too, also a test character where the hi-poly object was between 100k-200k polys and the lo-poly a few thousand.

zapper1998
12-03-2008, 06:14 PM
dear zapis there any problem with low-high poly import export to NVIDIA tools? do you have an example to show?I think i ll go for ...LW for low poly and 3D coat + LW for hi-poly..and skip all others...lets see..BestNo examples right now..But I have had good success with the Nvidia tool Setand the DDS plugin..

thekho
12-17-2008, 11:39 AM
Myagi- Your plugin looks so interesting!

Myagi
12-17-2008, 05:07 PM
I have been doing some work on a demo version, or maybe preview version would be a better name, to get an idea if it's worth going further with as a stand-alone project and to see if it works in lw9. A "real" stand-alone version would need some options for configuring Y-sign and some other stuff, which currently aren't added as it's tied to a specific engine.

Might have something for download within the next couple of days, I'd prefer to add a little documentation first, to at least cover the most basic functionality.

monovich
12-17-2008, 06:06 PM
...

Myagi
12-21-2008, 10:34 AM
The preview version is now available. I made a new thread (in the game dev forum) here (http://www.newtek.com/forums/showthread.php?t=93145).