Using a basic render of a scene from a 3D package to paint over is a very effective way of creating concepts. However, for those that aren’t familiar with 3D software or don’t have the time to learn a new program, painting normal maps and using 3D layers in Photoshop can be a very handy alternative.
In this tutorial, veteran CG artist Nick Lewis shows how to hand-paint normal maps in photoshop and use them in a 3D layer. Instead of using the normal map as a texture, it’s used to create the full form of the object or scene. As the normal map is added to a 3D layer, it can be lit, textured and painted over within photoshop without having to switch between software packages. In some instances it can also be quicker and more flexible, as lights can be moved and adjusted without the need for switching programs, and surfaces like walls and floors can be created and amended with the stroke of a pen. It can help you get quick concepts that will need texture and lighting variations, producing a 3D look and feel without the need for extra software.Get the Normal Sphere Convex >
Nick Lewis has worked in the games and animation industry for twenty years. He started out as a 3D artist on XBox and PS2 titles and moved on to managing art teams for games, concept art and animation production. Currently, he works as freelance CG artist and university lecturer.