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Anonymous sent: Could you explain the difference between bump maps, normal maps, spec maps, and ao maps?

askagamedev:

Sure.

First, a little background reading. You might want to familiarize yourself with my previous post on how this sort of thing works in a general sense:

Ok, you’ve read that? Good. Let’s talk about the specifics of what the rest of these do:

Bump Map vs Normal Map

Bump Maps and Normal Maps are actually very similar - in fact, a bump map is a type of normal map. They both store height information about the surface they’re mapping, but the data they store is different. Bump maps store this data in terms of height directly - relative distance from the base of the polygon it’s on. Normal maps store the normals of the surfaces - the direction that the surface is facing. This can be used to calculate other things in addition to the sort of lighting involved, because the normal of the polygon being mapped might actually be facing in a different direction than the normal of the fake surface that the normal map is trying to simulate.

image

If you look closely, you can see how the shapes on the right look a little different from an angular sense, especially on the bottom two. That’s the directional data stored in the normal map coming into play.

Bump maps and Normal maps differ in that Normal maps require a lot more calculation. Bump maps can be created by hand, but you need some sort of tool to generate your normal maps for you, or else you run the risk of them not functioning properly. 

Specular Maps

Specular Maps are used to calculate something else entirely. Rather than trying to simulate height, what a specular map does is simulate reflectivity. Imagine a chunk of coal. It is dull, it is pithy, it is dirty, and it doesn’t reflect light very well. Now compare that to something made of chrome. You can see your face in it. The “texture” (as in the way it looks, rather than the image painted onto the surface) of these two materials can be simulated with a specular map applied to your polygon. Here’s an example of the same model with changes just to the specular map:

image

See how it looks so different in each image? Now imagine being able to use this to add other texture or detail. You could, for example, create a visual of a frosted glass with a detailed logo on it just by messing with the spec map.

Ambient Occlusion Maps

The final type of map you asked about is the Ambient Occlusion (or AO) map. Ambient Occlusion calculates how easily ambient light will reach that particular part. The inside of an opaque plastic tube, for example, will tend to be more dull and less bright than the inside of a frosted glass tube of the same dimensions, which will be different than a clear glass tube. This will tend to make things with crevices and cracks stand out more when doing lighting calculations, much moreso than a simple normal or bump map. Here’s an example of an AO map at work:

image

There’s an overall increased amount of darkness with the ambient occlusion on, but you can see it specifically concentrated around where the crevices and deep wrinkles are on this model’s face. Those areas are harder for ambient light to get into, since the general topography of the face is less conducive to letting light get in. Hence, we get ambient occlusion.

As you can see, there are a lot of really interesting tricks that programmers have invented in order to get more and more things that artists can tweak in order to create the specific visuals they are looking for. These sorts of techniques aren’t only necessarily useful for hyper-realistic looks either - imagine a game with sort of the stylized visuals or post-production of films like 300 or Sin City, except done on the fly. It does come with the drawback that adding all of these things also increases the amount of work that needs to be done for each thing (the ability to use an AO map means that now you need someone to create AO maps for everything), but it does empower artists to create objects of steadily increasing graphical fidelity.

Further Reading:

305,844 plays

skarvo:

jacktherbert:

micthemicrophone:

I WASN’T EVEN PAYING ATTENTION AND WHEN I WATCHED THE REPLAY I HAD TO.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT

You stared death in the face and didn’t even notice.

That is stone cold.

1 day ago
45,045 notes
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plays

littlefroggies:

Cat Simulator 2014 aka me and Lin spend our money wisely

(Source: vine.co)

2 days ago
3,854 notes
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+ cats

tentakrule:

sixpenceee:

Metalosis Maligna is a fake disease invented by award-winning Dutch filmmaker Floris Kaayk.

According to the mockumentary, Metalosis Maligna occurs when a metal implant has a bad interaction with human body tissues, causing the metal to grow tendrils that eventually puncture the skin from within and destroy it.

I was skimming through the video at first not knowing it was a mockumentary and landed on the part of the man in bed. I nearly died. 

WATCH VIDEO

Here’s an alternative link to watch it on vimeo, in higher resolution, from the creator’s channel.

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gransmells:

laurenmaccoll86:

gransmells:

bring this back

I’ve seen some users on Somethingawful forums with avatars of this and wondered where it came from for a while. I actually thought it was some random in-joke, but now I know….

Still, it raises more questions like, who made this? What is the song about? and just… WHAT? in general.

the song is literally from a dutch commercial for cup of soup and some animator thought “im going to make something weird with this” that is the whole backstory

3 days ago
2,107 notes
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yaoi-hell:

manifestoonmoralmansex:

Reversed faces will forever be funny to me.

would you believe I almost scrolled past this without noticing anything was wrong
high resolution →

yaoi-hell:

manifestoonmoralmansex:

Reversed faces will forever be funny to me.

would you believe I almost scrolled past this without noticing anything was wrong

3 days ago
689 notes
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(Source: becausebirds)

3 days ago
44,660 notes
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+ burd
+ coo

challengerapproaching:

So this is a thing that’s happening.
Famed horror manga creator Junji Ito (Yes, the “this hole was made for me” guy.) is creating an officially licensed Pokemon short story that will be out in time for Halloween!  Details on the subject matter is a bit scarce, but we have a feeling that little girl there just picked up a new dollie to replace her old one~!
Spooky.

challengerapproaching:

So this is a thing that’s happening.

Famed horror manga creator Junji Ito (Yes, the “this hole was made for me” guy.) is creating an officially licensed Pokemon short story that will be out in time for Halloween!  Details on the subject matter is a bit scarce, but we have a feeling that little girl there just picked up a new dollie to replace her old one~!

Spooky.

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sommerrev:

OH. MY GOD.

4 days ago
21,280 notes
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+ burd
+ CUTIE

p-kom:

inktober/ monster girl challenge day 11. “True Monster”, odd prompt. Why not use a fetus cultist god thingamabob for today then

p-kom:

inktober/ monster girl challenge day 11. “True Monster”, odd prompt. Why not use a fetus cultist god thingamabob for today then

18,160 plays

scalestails:

gears-keep-turning:

cloudiiedays:

So /this/ is what I was trying to show with how dorky they are with their tongues.

The shadow is my finger moving back and forth and him responding to it.

Mordecai does this and he has this hilarious habit of just letting his tongue stick out a little and keeps it out. House snakes are great.

That’s FUCKING ADORABLE

5 days ago
2,559 notes
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+ snakes

1,525,812 plays

willzone:

laughterkey:

digg:

Skipping a rock over a frozen pond makes the coolest noise.

stick around for the surprise ending

There’s so much to talk about here

watch til the end.  perfect video.

5 days ago
280,403 notes
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heliospanoptes:

no pigeons no deal

heliospanoptes:

no pigeons no deal

5 days ago
6,890 notes
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+ rude
+ coo

bpm999:

majorvirgin:

LOOK AT WHAT THEY FUCKING DID TO BOB THE BUILDER

image

I AM FUMNG WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS 

SMUG ASS STEPDAD LOOKING ASS LITTLE SHIT 

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considerablybigben:

*puts down capri sun* i am ready for a sex