In our September Office Hours session, we took a look at a hidden side to rendering materials often known as ‘Normal Maps‘ or ‘Bump Maps‘. We showcased a mini demonstration where we utilized these normal maps to create the illusion of 3D Geometry with the added benefits of reducing the poly count of our 3D Model, offering more options for customization such as scale, controlling repetition, and more. Afterward, we answered a few more questions on how to customize normal maps, provided some additional resources, and we did a quick start-to-finish rendering demonstration in Lumion. Check out the full recap below!



There are a couple of items to consider if you wish to use normal maps in your project as opposed to modeling  3D geometry. The size, complexity, and prominence of your feature(s) will all weigh significantly on the amount of detail that you wish to convey. For example, in our demonstration, the back wall feature was a very central element to the spa room that we were using in the rendering. The wall was large in size and the tiles that we used in our normal map, were random, yet repetitive. By using normal maps in place of 3D geometry, we were able to adjust the scale of the tiles on the fly to suit the look and feel we we were trying to achieve in our rendering. If we had we used 3D Geometry for the tiles, we would have created tons of work in SketchUp if we wanted to see the same tiles represented in a different scale in our Lumion rendering.

Additionally, Normal Map Online is an online tool that allows you to customize, invert, preview, and save your normal maps for use in any texture you’re working on. Be sure and book mark the page if you want to experiment further.

Lumion provides a fast, quick, and easy way to produce high-quality renderings in a fraction of the time. Be sure and check out the latest version that will be hitting the market soon!