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Height Field to Normal Map


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Hello All,

I needed a height field (gray scale) to normal map plugin/feature and couldn't find one. So I wrote one.

Here is the .dll that goes in your Effects folder:

http://www.freewebs.com/realstinger/pdn ... Normal.dll


Here is the source:

http://www.freewebs.com/realstinger/pdn ... ToNormal.z

I've used it, but it is hot off the press so use at your own risk.

Have fun,



Edited by toe_head2001
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To answer your question here is what the plugin is for:

Start with a gray scale, white is highest, black is lowest:


Use the plugin to make a normal map:


Draw something with a shader that uses a normal map:



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  • 1 month later...
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  • 7 months later...

Thanks for a great effect!

The download worked fine for me, as did the plugin.


wait so how does this work? id like to use this

1) Download the DLL fille.

2) Copy/Paste the DLL into your Effects folder.

3) Now when you open Paint.NET and you click your Effects tab from the menu, you will notice this effect added to the bottom of your list of effects.

4) Load an image that is used for your models texture and grey scale it (turn it black & white).

5) Now use the effect on that greyscale image and you now have your normal map.

6) save the normal map and use it with whatever program your model will be used in.

Here is a quote from Ionozation.net that might help explain normal mapping ...

So what is Normal Mapping?

Normal mapping is a method where by the normals of a mesh are given more detailed lighting information by means of a bitmap image.

This give the mesh the appearance of more realistic lighting and more surface detail.

Normal maps are encoded to a bitmap image, much like a greyscale bump map.

The way in which they differ however is that in traditional bump mapping only distinct changes in elevation are registered.

A gradual change in height is almost impossible to perceive.

Normal maps not only describe height, but accurately depict the angle of faces and are able to describe curves and complex angles much more accurately.

In short, they create a much better illusion of height.

Normal maps are encoded in RGB values which are used to indicate which direction the normal faces relative to the face of the polygon it is mapped to.

The red channel describes normal facing in the X direction.

100% red means it is facing right 0% red means it is facing left.

A 50% value means it is facing straight out in the direction of the polygon.

The same goes for the green channel, except it is encoded to the Y axis up and down.

The blue channel theoretically encodes Z data which are values in height, however it seems to serve more as a base colour for the other two to work upon.

Normal maps can't contain values below 50% in this channel, as that would indicate normals pointing back towards the surface.

That is why normal maps appear to be primarily blue in colour.

Here is an example of a wall texture with and without the normal mapping/shaders applied...

WITHOUT Normal Mapping and Shaders...


WITH Normal Mapping and Shaders...


As you can see from the images above, the use of normal maps and shaders can make a your textures come alive with detail. (even flat surfaces)

This is a method that is used to create hi-poly detail on low-poly models, which gives outstanding visuals without the resource strain.

This is also a method that is basically a requirement for any DirectX 10 project, since it demands the use of these latest texturing tricks.

Thanks again Stinger, for one of the best and most needed plugins. You rock!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Great plugin! A few layers of clouds, then run the plug-in on each, Turn them all to grayscale, set the top layer's blend mode to screen, merge, adjust brightness, repeat until you only have one layer, tint, and you have an awesome rock texture!

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  • 1 year later...

The link does not seem to currently be directed to a current valid website.

Could you repost this somewhere. I would like to check it out. Thanks.


EDIT: My error, I just found it posted at the bottom of a similar request a couple posts back. Thank you.

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  • toe_head2001 changed the title to Height Field to Normal Map

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