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Abadoxx

Do you rely on bump maps in your meshes?

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I made a model that is low res but has a high res normal map baked onto it. I realized a very high percentage of SL users do not have advanced lighting enabled. This means my models look awful to them. What do creators do to get around this? Should I not rely heavily on my mesh? Should I rely more on 2-3 subdivisions?

Edited by Abadoxx

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If you use Cycles rendering (or equivalent in non-Blender) you can pretty much bake your normal map INTO your main texture. That solves lots of problems. I almost never use normal maps in SL. In Sansar they work much better. Different engine. Here, the look is VERY much dependent on the Windlight setting and so those bumps can look OK or really horrible. 

 

 

Edited by Chic Aeon

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I use normal maps all the time, all my products mention "Advanced Lighting Recommended/Required" and do minimal shading for non ALM users.

If you make your normal maps properly it will look just fine in most settings.

Subdivision is a big nono for realtime rendering and baked lighting should be avoided if possible because it requires large textures which cost a lot of vram.

Edited by Kyrah Abattoir

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On 12/4/2018 at 1:00 AM, Chic Aeon said:

If you use Cycles rendering (or equivalent in non-Blender) you can pretty much bake your normal map INTO your main texture. That solves lots of problems. I almost never use normal maps in SL. In Sansar they work much better. Different engine. Here, the look is VERY much dependent on the Windlight setting and so those bumps can look OK or really horrible. 

 

 

Normal maps tell lighting how to react in order to show bumped surfaces that aren't really there. I don't see how this would be accomplished all that well in a texture but I've never heard of it before unless you mean baking the higher poly model into the lower poly. This can ruin topology and is a method of it's own that I don't see much use for outside of SL. How do you bake a normal map into a texture, I'm curious to see how well it would work for more complex geo. This is for a full AV. I've tested normal's in SL and they work well. Clear difference, but the mesh looks awful without it if you're relying on normal's for most of the realistic details (as you should).

For instance if I had a low poly mesh with larger muscle detail and were to sculpt smaller muscle detail onto a higher poly model then bake the normal's into the low poly, the muscles would reflect that in the final mesh but only if the user has advanced lighting on. Without it the mesh would be lacking major defining details. It would look like it was from 2010 not 2018. If you were to do this sort of detail in a texture it may look decent head on but from other angles I would think the surface detail is lost. I assume it would give a drawn on effect. The only way around this I can think of is to add as much geometry to the low poly so everyone can see the detail with advanced lighting or not. I rather not go down that route as I plan on using my meshes in asset packs and rather not do things 3 times over just for SL and contribute to ridiculous tri counts. It seems like a lot of content creators go higher poly over using normal maps that could accomplish the same and much more. It would explain why SL is so difficult to run. To keep up with consistent quality of other creators it has to be mimicked or you risk a bunch of bad reviews. In my opinion bump mapping should be a requirement to run SL. Almost everyone I asked has advanced lighting off to save frames. It's completely backwards but it seems to be the way SL is.

 

I could keep my mesh around 20k tris with one subdivision and some topology edits but I see most of the top creators have sort of an "inbetween mesh". Not anything ridiculously high poly but something that will look nice for all users. This seems like a lot of unnecessary extra effort that would end in a much higher tri count that most games would only use as a main character in their video game. When everyone is a main character you run into issues running a game.

edit:

heres a quick example of what something would look like to a user with and without bump mapping on 96sYrUM.png

Edited by Abadoxx

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@Abadoxx That's a good example but normal map isn't just for "surface" details since you can fake curvature with it too, pretty much anything that doesn't contribute to the object's overall silouette can be normal mapped.

The main advantage of normal mapping is to leverage the hardware rather than relying on higher and higher texture resolutions. A normal mapped object will look more interesting and vivid than one with details burned into a hig-res texture.

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7 hours ago, Abadoxx said:

I could keep my mesh around 20k tris with one subdivision and some topology edits but I see most of the top creators have sort of an "inbetween mesh". Not anything ridiculously high poly but something that will look nice for all users. This seems like a lot of unnecessary extra effort that would end in a much higher tri count that most games would only use as a main character in their video game. When everyone is a main character you run into issues running a game.

In Second Life everyone is the main character - to themselves...

Edited by Theresa Tennyson
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4 hours ago, Kyrah Abattoir said:

@Abadoxx That's a good example but normal map isn't just for "surface" details since you can fake curvature with it too, pretty much anything that doesn't contribute to the object's overall silouette can be normal mapped.

The main advantage of normal mapping is to leverage the hardware rather than relying on higher and higher texture resolutions. A normal mapped object will look more interesting and vivid than one with details burned into a hig-res texture.

Exactly, thus the issue with SL. There is a reason there is no option to turn bump mapping off in video games, it would pretty much break them visually. I'm just going to make my stuff industry standard and hope for the best ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Edited by Abadoxx

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1 hour ago, Abadoxx said:

I'm just going to make my stuff industry standard and hope for the best ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

That's not possible. The "industry standard" today is PBR and SL has no support for it at all.

Edited by ChinRey

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1 hour ago, ChinRey said:

That's not possible. The "industry standard" today is PBR and SL has no support for it at all.

Correct, I was talking about the industry standard that involved normal mapping. Why would I be referring to something that doesn't exist? Both have similar logic and neither rely on extra geometry, which was my point. The logic I see in 90% of avatar mesh is, "how many times can I subdivide this and get away with it." Not, "How do I optimize this to use a lesser tri-count and still keep detail". That mindset leads to ridiculous unnecessary tri counts that force users to turn off things like advanced lighting to save frames. Really not much you can do about it, I was just wondering what logical people do to keep up with this fact.

Edited by Abadoxx
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On 12/7/2018 at 3:11 PM, Kyrah Abattoir said:

Welcome to the good guys club @Abadoxx :P

hahaha, don't give me to much credit, it's not only more efficient but its the way to go if you want things to look good.

 

72HLJXj.png

Still a bunch of work to do but this is 18k tris. Subdivided once and removed all the unnecessary loops. The normal map doesn't hold across the mesh at 1024x1024 so I'll have to use 3 different normal maps which means 3 texture maps and 3 specular maps. That's 12 textures at 1024, I wonder how bad is that on resources. I can't find a way around it.

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I think I would query use of a spec map at all, unless your dinosaur is made of metal. 

You can get quite far with just the shininess layer embedded in the normal map. 

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@Abadoxx to get around the issue of how bad things look when ALM is off you can/should bake an AO that includes the bump onto your diffuse (it depends a little on what you are doing but in most cases, it works well enough).

Here is a lamp of mine, all the engraving is entirely normal mapped and as a result if I did not bake the AO from normal into the diffuse those not using ALM would get a very plain brass stem (which given the lack of ALM wouldn't even look vaguely brass either!).

This is also handy if like me you combine normal; mapping and modelling to support your LODs. Sometimes I have a surface detail that appears in the HIGH LOD but vanishes in the medium and appears only in the normal map. By baking the diffuse with the detailed AO you improve the lower LOD for the non-ALM capable.

e5a6f5ef23ffc1ca9fee97b8e972a1a9.gif

There are a lot of people using SL from very low-end devices. Whether, as a creator, you want to consider those people is an individual choice, of course, but the effort involved in doing this is relatively small and will make your stuff look better to more people. 

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1 hour ago, Beq Janus said:

There are a lot of people using SL from very low-end devices. Whether, as a creator, you want to consider those people is an individual choice, of course, but the effort involved in doing this is relatively small and will make your stuff look better to more people. 

Keep this on mind also when not marketing to them. I always test how everything I want to buy looks with and without ALM - if it looks crap in either I won't get it. I don't pay Lindens to have my stuff look like crap no matter who will look at it. My vanity forbids me and my stuff from looking like crap, period.

Edited by Fionalein
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10 hours ago, Beq Janus said:

@Abadoxx to get around the issue of how bad things look when ALM is off you can/should bake an AO that includes the bump onto your diffuse (it depends a little on what you are doing but in most cases, it works well enough).

Here is a lamp of mine, all the engraving is entirely normal mapped and as a result if I did not bake the AO from normal into the diffuse those not using ALM would get a very plain brass stem (which given the lack of ALM wouldn't even look vaguely brass either!).

This is also handy if like me you combine normal; mapping and modelling to support your LODs. Sometimes I have a surface detail that appears in the HIGH LOD but vanishes in the medium and appears only in the normal map. By baking the diffuse with the detailed AO you improve the lower LOD for the non-ALM capable.

e5a6f5ef23ffc1ca9fee97b8e972a1a9.gif

There are a lot of people using SL from very low-end devices. Whether, as a creator, you want to consider those people is an individual choice, of course, but the effort involved in doing this is relatively small and will make your stuff look better to more people. 

Yeah a small amount of AO can also help for those low light nights, if you can't use a bit of environment. But burned in things like cast shadows tend to mess with your normal maps by making areas that the normal map considers to be "sun facing" darker, and thus harder to lighten.

@Fionalein In a perfect world there would be a tab for each of the rendering modes so you could put burned in diffuses for non ALM users and full materials for ALM users (oof that workload tho). But we can never have nice things.

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10 hours ago, Beq Janus said:

@Abadoxx to get around the issue of how bad things look when ALM is off you can/should bake an AO that includes the bump onto your diffuse (it depends a little on what you are doing but in most cases, it works well enough).

Here is a lamp of mine, all the engraving is entirely normal mapped and as a result if I did not bake the AO from normal into the diffuse those not using ALM would get a very plain brass stem (which given the lack of ALM wouldn't even look vaguely brass either!).

This is also handy if like me you combine normal; mapping and modelling to support your LODs. Sometimes I have a surface detail that appears in the HIGH LOD but vanishes in the medium and appears only in the normal map. By baking the diffuse with the detailed AO you improve the lower LOD for the non-ALM capable.

e5a6f5ef23ffc1ca9fee97b8e972a1a9.gif

There are a lot of people using SL from very low-end devices. Whether, as a creator, you want to consider those people is an individual choice, of course, but the effort involved in doing this is relatively small and will make your stuff look better to more people. 

That sounds amazing but I wouldn't be sure how to go about this. I am use to using substance painter and having everything work

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6 hours ago, Kyrah Abattoir said:

 

@Fionalein In a perfect world there would be a tab for each of the rendering modes so you could put burned in diffuses for non ALM users and full materials for ALM users (oof that workload tho). But we can never have nice things.

We can but if you choose not to make them I won't buy yours, it is really as simple :P

 

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12 hours ago, Abadoxx said:

That sounds amazing but I wouldn't be sure how to go about this. I am use to using substance painter and having everything work

Do you have the latest Substance? The new export viewport function is perfect for SL and if I understand it correctly gives you all the baked in goodness in a single diffuse texture. Use with care, of course, baked in lighting can be the death of an effect if used too much but if you stick with largely ambient lighting and comparatively bland reflection maps you ought to get a decent effect that non-ALM users will appreciate and which you normal maps will enhance.

ef3bed2a2a410ee688807fc99c67ed87.png
https://gyazo.com/ef3bed2a2a410ee688807fc99c67ed87

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On 12/9/2018 at 6:24 AM, Abadoxx said:

hahaha, don't give me to much credit, it's not only more efficient but its the way to go if you want things to look good.

 

72HLJXj.png

Still a bunch of work to do but this is 18k tris. Subdivided once and removed all the unnecessary loops. The normal map doesn't hold across the mesh at 1024x1024 so I'll have to use 3 different normal maps which means 3 texture maps and 3 specular maps. That's 12 textures at 1024, I wonder how bad is that on resources. I can't find a way around it.

 

Getting a dino to look good shouldn't take more than 1-2 1024 maps if you use symmetry and UV Pack well.  If you UV Stack the left and right sides on top of each other and you split it into two 1024 x 1024 maps you should be able to get a good normal map resolution with minimal seam distortion down the back and underbelly.  Additionally, along the top of the back,  that specific ridge you can add extra ( non-normal map ) based geometry to help your silhouette.  It'll help distract from the natural normal map defects you get from ( relatively ) smaller normal map sizes.  As a general rule I'd avoid making super-tiny spines like the ones you have along the neck, but defer to something a little bit courser and built to help the silhouette will hide the normal map seam, especially if it goes from neck-to-tail-tip.  You can put these spines on their own UV islands that break symmetry and sprinkle them into the crevices of your existing UV maps to maximize space utility and keep the symmetry from being too stark.

~Cheers!

-Liz

Edit! :: A dino like that can be well executed with a triangle count of roughly 25-55K triangles ( no subdivisions needed ).  Just got to break some edge loops up near the spines and head and do your topology right !

Edited by polysail
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