So What’s The Big Deal?

Some of you may be wondering, so what this big deal with normal/specular maps. Prompted by a poster in Jack’s (a.k.a. FlyingJackal Sim) normal map how-to thread at X-Pilot, we’ve decided to answer this question. Fact of the matter is, we just finished up an American Airlines in oneworld titles livery. Its primarily a bare metal tube top to bottom. Normal and specular maps were an absolute necessity for the success of this livery so we thought that we’d put together some comparisons and highlight some of the effects that you can pull out of your lighting with these maps in place.

First, lets compare the aircraft with and without normal/spec maps.

In the first set of images, focus your attention at the specular highlight on the nose and at the one world logo. In the second set of images, focus on the detail in the specular highlight and on the rivet lines. In the third set of images, focus on the oneworld titles.

In the next image, focus on the specular highlight paying particular attention to the window surrounds, the skin, and the panel lines. The specular effect is best seen on the window plug inside of the large e of one world.

In this image, the diffuse texture map has been removed completely. This allows you to see the normal map and the diffuse map directly. Due to the time of day, the LIT texture is also visible. Eventually we would like to control the cabin lighting via plugin.

And just because we’ve shown you all of this, another full shot of the aircraft on climbout.

Do note though that screenshots don’t really do these effects justice. They are best viewed live when the conditions that you are viewing the aircraft change…ie, time of day, angle of the aircraft to the sun, camera placement etc.


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