Author Topic: Using Alpha in height versus normal texture for details  (Read 4132 times)

configt

Was reviewing the Wes tutorials on the si-fi crate workflow and he started with putting in height map texture information using Alpha, then baking and continuing the workflow.  Question I have is you can also using normal textures now within SP, when/why would you chose to use Alpha with height versus normals to create the details?  Alpha are easier to create? Can we not convert eh Alpha to Normal textures?

This is just more for my understanding when/why to make certain choices.  Thank you.

justaviking

This may be a very bad explanation, but...

On a stairway, each step's normal would point up, but the height would be greater as you go up the stairs.  So the normal map on each step would be the same, but he height map would get whiter as you go from step to step.

(You'd use geometry for a stairway, but I hope it correctly illustrates the concept.)

A surface normal points "away" from the surface, being "perpendicular" to the surface at that specific spot.  A normal map is one of the ways of creating the appearance of a richly details 3D surface without requiring a trillion surface triangles.

Height/Bump, normal, and curvature all work together, and in some ways their functions sort of overlap somewhat in terms of what they can do, but each has a distinct reason to exist and be used.
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configt

I know there are relationships between all the different maps, so height at some point gets baked into the normal map output correct?    If that is the case does it get baked down with better information per your explanation if I use alpha with height info versus using a normal texture?  Guess I am trying to establish when would someone use the normal textures to put detail in versus the alpha with height?

Froyok

An height map contains only information about elevation, while a normal map contains vector and can be more precise to describe some type of shapes. Note also that height information is easier to paint by hand. Usually you use height first, and if the quality is not good, you switch to normal.
Don't forget your log file. It can be exported from the Help menu of the software.
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Fabrice Piquet aka Froyok. Product Manager, Technical Artist and Documentation at Adobe.

configt

An height map contains only information about elevation, while a normal map contains vector and can be more precise to describe some type of shapes. Note also that height information is easier to paint by hand. Usually you use height first, and if the quality is not good, you switch to normal.

Perfect thank you.  One last question, if you only have alpha's and find you want to use them as normal textures instead can you convert the alpha with fidelity?

Froyok

Perfect thank you.  One last question, if you only have alpha's and find you want to use them as normal textures instead can you convert the alpha with fidelity?
More or less.
That's something you could do is Substance Designer, you would get more control over here.
In Substance Painter meanwhile you can put the alpha in the mask of a fill layer and use it to drive the height channel.
Don't forget your log file. It can be exported from the Help menu of the software.
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Fabrice Piquet aka Froyok. Product Manager, Technical Artist and Documentation at Adobe.

Thank you!