Posted on July 8th, 2009

If you don't know what a normal map is then this program probably has no relevance to you. But click here to read more about normal mapping.

Normal map combining is not a simple matter of combining the pixel color of each map. Each pixel on a normal map represents a vector pointing somewhere in space. This direction defines the deviation from the vertex normal at that point on the model surface.

If there is an additional normal map then the direction of the first normal is affected by the second one. This may mean that the normal deviation can be either more or less depending on the normal vector of the second normal map.

Simply combining the two pixels of two normal maps will lead to an incorrect and diminished normal vector in all cases.

This normal map combiner treats the pixels of both normal map sources as real vectors and correctly manipulates them to produce the combined output.

The result is an accurate and rich looking normal map. This technique is essential when you are strugling with map seams which can look very ugly after maps are combined the wrong way

What can I do with this tool?

Enhance detail on your model by adding a high frequency normal map to your existing normal map. For example your model may be covered with a cloth like material but your modeling tool only exports a normal map based on the mesh geometry. With this tool you can add a high frequency normal map which will result in a accurate rendering of the mesh shape and cloth texture

Many modeling tools produce bump maps which can be converted to normal maps. The resulting normal maps may need to be combined with the normal map you already generated for your model. This is the right tool to do it.

Amplify the normal map by combining two times the same normal map. The slope of your pixels doubles.

Here is a post of someone attempting to combine normal maps by joining pixels. This post is relevant because it shows why users are trying to combine normal maps.

In this latest version 1.1 you can also scan and fix bad pixels. The program will check every pixel vector and compare it''s angle with the surrounding vectors. The pixel will be over written by the nearest surrounding value when the vector exceeds the angle treshold. This feature is especially usefull to remove isolated bad pixels from normal maps generated by Mudbox.

ncombiner will handle normal maps of any size and run as a windows or command line application.

You can download the free program here. If you find it usefull then feel free to show your appreciation by donating $6 USD with the button below.


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