As any 3D artist would I really do appreciate the technical artistry that is normal mapping.
The simplified explanation: a 2D texture that when applied to a 3D shape instructs the surface which direction to bounce light. Creating the illusion of high details on a low detail surface.
In the old days the process would be quite taxing. It required a high poly mesh, this models details would essentially be mapped to the low poly. See the picture below for a reference.
However, in the last few years several tools, have been developed that pull normal information from imported photographs, which is a HUGE time saver. Generally, though these tools are best used for flatter surfaces, and tiling textures especially.
Recently I have been creating several materials for game development. Materials that require color, and normal information, and several are tiling. In my never-ending search for better tools, I stumbled upon this great tool: Knald.
Knald – Knald Technologies
Knald does several things, but the stand out feature for me is its photo to normal map capabilities. To be frank, they are stunning. So good in fact that I think that feature alone is worth the cost.
I invite you to check out their website/gallery and if you still need convincing give the Knald trial a free download. And see how great the tool is with regards to normal map generation.
If you would like to learn more about gamification, graphic design, or eLearning development, please visit www.pathwaysinc.ca