Exporting High-Quality seameless normal maps in Zbrush3 without Zmapper

Hey Everyone, as probably many of you, after release of Zb3 I was very upset with a fact that there is no Zmapper and export Normal map button didn’t work, so I was struggling for quite some time because I could not bring my high rez meshes into 3dsmax.

But then, somebody have mentioned in this forum a freeware software called xnormal, so I have downloaded it and I was really amazed with a quality of the normal maps it produces.

So I have wrote a step-by-step tutorial on how to export a displacement map in zbrush, bring it into Xnormal and produce a normal map of an extremely high quality, that even beats the quality of zmapper. And all of that in under 3 minutes, including map rendering

I have uploaded this tutorial into my blog, as I am having a trouble uploading and displaying images in this forum, but if somebody feels like bringing the whole tutorial into zcentral, I don’t mind at all, as long as it helps :slight_smile:

you can find my tutorial here:

and your comments and suggestions about this tutorial would be Greatly appreciated :slight_smile:

Hope it helps :slight_smile:

Thanks for the post, it’s good to have options :smiley:

no worries, let me know if it works for you :slight_smile:

I still don’t know how a Normal Map created from a height field created from a displacement map can work? A displacement map only has 2 values while a normal map has 3. Am I missing something?

Well just like you can produce a normal map in photoshop vianvidia normal map plugin and a black & white image, I’m guessing from the displacement that third channel is automatically created for you. Or the red and green channels discerning left and right lighting on a normal. Nevertheless, thanks for the tutorial! Xnormal is a cool little app.

I dont know about the technical stuff behind normal maps, but I can tell one thing - works a treat for me, with a zmapper I allways had a random results sometimes it produced a good map, sometimes not, in this case the normal map are just perfect :slight_smile:

I believe the software uses shadows to calculate the third value. I’m pretty sure it’s hit or miss (with a good chance of hit), but there are parameters you can change to increase your chances for succes. The application in questions also has a 3D object loader where you can apply your normal map and make sure everything looks right before you export it.

oh yeah, you can actually bring in a low-rez and a high-rez model into xnormal to calculate the normal map, but this process is more complexed and takes more time. But so far converting displacements works great :slight_smile: and also there are tools that convert normal maps into cavity maps and displacement maps to occlusion maps

does anyone have any questions or suggestions concerning the tutorial?

thx skarpunin ,
it sure help alot . I used the other method to create normal map from zb3
by going back to zb2 and do it .
but always good to know more than one way to do things .
thx :slight_smile:

No worries :), I was soo thrilled when I have figured out a propper way to export normal from zbrush and I am very glad that other ppl find my info useful :slight_smile:

by the way did I mention that you need a .Net Framework installed in order to run XNormal, I am saying this because I’ve had a couple of e-mails where ppl say that xnormal is not working for some reason, so in order for it to work install .net framework it is a free software tool from microsoft, it is included in Windows Vista, but needs to be downloaded if you are using XP

This Is an exellent tutorial! thank you for sharing:D I do have one question on Step 5 where you say to go to Tool/Texture and make sure that UV option is enabled, then click on GUV Tiles. Is this assuming you haven’t unwrapped the UVs in another app? I have a model that I want to create normal maps using the techinque in your tutorial, but I have already unwrapped its UVs, should I skip those steps in that case?

thank you

yes, GUV tiles are only for the models that don’t have UV’s assigned to them, so definitely you should skip this step, but still I reckon you should click on fix seams just to make sure that you don’t have any seams in your texture

Thanks a bunch! this is exactly what I was looking for. will have to try it out tonight when I can dowload it on hi-speed.

I’ve tried it out and I’m still getting seams on my character:( I’ve followed the tutorial just as you said exept for step 5 as mentioned above I didn’t click GUV tiles I clicked fix seam as well but still I get seams. Does setting FSBorder to 0 have anything to do with it? I notice your site says 3Ds Maxer, does this technique only apply to 3Ds Max? I’m using Maya maybe that has something to do with it?

yep, the exporting part was meant for 3dsmax, what you should try to do is to leave fix seams value as it is, I think it is 4 or 3, also, it might be a good idea to check on tutorials about exporting displacement maps for maya (I think zbrush 2 practical quide can help), because then all you do is bring your disp map into xnormal and it converts it for you to normal map. also dont forget to flip your texture vertically in maya if you havent done so in zbrush because, zbrush flips all textures vertically.

Tell me if it works

How do you doo too import the psd into Xnormal? i cant select psd as an import type. Do you change it in photoshop first?

well in Xnormal when you right click and select import it should be “Photoshop PSD Importer” but if you are using an earlier version of Xnormal and it is not there, just save your map as Tif or Tga, just make sure that depth is set to 16 bits.

so did it work, did you manage to bring in your psd file?