Workflows

Before going into the details of every individual method I want to give a small overview of all the techniques I use for material creation to help you decide which technique to try out.


Bitmap Approximation

This is the by far the easiest but also the least accurate way. You take 20-50 photos of a surface and stitch them together in a suitable software, much like a panorama taken with a phone. All other maps are simply approximated from the color map using software.

Upsides

  • Very easy to do.
  • Quick.
  • Not a lot of hardware needed (see below).

Downsides

  • Results can be inaccurate or plain wrong (especially the displacement map).
  • Requires a lot of random tweaking when generating the maps.
  • Very reliant on external conditions (weather, lighting, etc.)

Hardware

  • Any camera. Even a phone will technically work.
  • Almost any computer. Creating a 4k texture from a couple of photos works okay on a notebook with a dual core i5 processor, 8GB RAM and no dedicated graphics card.

Software

  • Microsoft ICE 2.0
  • Krita
  • Substance B2M, Substance Alchemist or Materialize

Multi-Angle Approximation

This is an extension of the standard bitmap approximation. It involves lighting a surface from 4-8 different angles without moving the camera. Substance Designer can then use the differences between the images to create a more accurate normal map.

Upsides

  • Still pretty easy to do.
  • Requires only a camera, a light source and a computer, a laptop is good enough.

Downsides

  • The camera must not be moved. This makes this technique useless for anything larger than a piece of A4 paper
  • Results are better than normal bitmap approximation, but can still be inaccurate.
  • Requires a dark environment.

Hardware

  • Any camera. Even a phone will technically work.
  • Almost any computer. Creating a 4k texture from a couple of photos works okay on a notebook with a dual core i5 processor, 8GB RAM and no dedicated graphics card.

Software

  • Substance Designer
  • Any image editor

Photogrammetry

Photogrammetry creates much more accurate height information at the cost of more time and resources. You take 200-500 pictures of the surface and create a 3D representation in Agisoft Metashape which can then be turned into a displacement map.

Upsides

  • Unbeatably accurate maps when done well.

Downsides

  • Shooting, processing and editing is extremely time-consuming.
  • Requires a powerful computer
  • Very reliant on external conditions (weather, lighting, etc.)

Hardware

  • DSLR or something comparable.
  • A tripod or monopod
  • A powerful computer with a dedicated GPU.

Software

  • Agisoft Metashape
  • An image editor
  • xNormal
  • Substance B2M

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