Making sense of Normal Maps

Since I see a fair amount of mods for Mass Effect 3 that has these very dark blue-looking normals that also tend to cause a series of somewhat unsightly visual artefacts, I figured I’d make a post just describing the ins and outs of what a normal map is for and roughly how they work. While I don’t know whether or not the issues are out of ignorance, a lot of this covers things that I only learned of long after I’d started to poke around with 3D graphics, so perhaps it will be useful to someone.

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Importing Custom Shepards into 3ds, script edition

This is an addendum to my previous entry of the Random Render How-to, so I guess that makes this part 7b. Anyway, the point to this is that I put together a MaxScript to import morph data and bone offsets from the me3headmorph files that the Gibbed save game editor can export, which should make it slightly easier and more accurate to import a custom Shepard into 3ds.

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Random Render How-to, part 7

Kaidan Tutorial: Part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six

Since we’re now done with the basic things, we’ll be moving on to more complicated things and to start that off we’re going to - in accordance with public request - touch upon how custom Shepards work and why they take a whole lot more extra effort to work with. The default, non-custom Shepard faces work pretty much the same way except you can skip the very last step, so we’ll glance by that too as we go. This one’s also pretty long - I probabl should’ve separated it up into multiple parts, but oh well hindsight.

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Random Render How-to, part 6

Part one, part two, part three, part four, part five

Right, before we move on to more complicated things we’re going to touch upon the final few things that go into a render, which is to say the actual rendering as well as lighting and compositing. The last part of that is optional - you might notice a fair amount of my own renders are against flat gray backgrounds - but it goes with the other topics and might prove helpful.

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Random Render How-to, part 5

Part one, part two, part three, part four

So by now we’ve got our things set up, we have a model exported, imported and finally textured. So let’s move on to the question of why does our imported Kaidan look like a porcupine - or in other words, it’s time for posing!

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Random Render How-to, part 4

Part one, part two, part three

Before we can move on to actual posing, we’re going to have to address the issue of eye colours and in order to do that, we’re going to have to look a little closer at material properties and texture maps, so that’s what we’ll be doing for this part.

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Random Render How-to, part 3

First part, Second part

With the third part we’re moving on to 3ds Max and doing our first actual import and assigning basic textures to it.

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Random Render How-to, part 2

First part available here.

For part two we’re going to be exporting models and textures from Mass Effect 3 through the umodel program so we’ll have something to import later. So without further ado, let’s just get on that.

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Random Render How-to, part 1

Since I’m sort of tapped out for ideas at the moment, I thought I’d try to get this thing off the ground since people asked for it. So, this is part one of my bare bones Mass Effect 3 Random Render how-to. For this first post, I’m going to start off with the things you’ll need to make this happen, and move on to from there in subsequent posts. Sound good?

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