Getting The Bump

I hate bump maps!

Have you ever seen what a bump map truly does? As an interesting experiment play around with different settings. Basically, all a bump map does (at least in Maya)

is cast an offset shadow on things like pores. If you ever played with the Emboss filter in Photoshop, it's the same thing.

It's kind of nasty especially when you put it in lighting situations. In my opinion, it's one of the hardest things that lighters have to deal with.

Bumps are lame. Real photographic shadows and detail come from displacement maps. I file normal maps in the same category as a bump on steroids. With displaced subdivision surfaces, displacement maps will give you the exciting detail wrinkles you see on ZBrush Central.

Bumps are very tricky for tight skin. Many bumps that you see generated on CGTalk are the repeating "orange peel skin" from a procedural texture. With the advent of 1 Brush you dish off your model to the texture team and then back to modeling. With ZBrush you can extract all that wonderful photographic detail. Never use a procedural or hand-paint a bump again—it's all in the photograph.

With the Inflate tool in ZBrush you can take a wonderful 4K image map and "inflate" the surface detail to create your high-frequency detail displacement. This not only works for skin, but also ground planes for environment scenes. If you examine skin on a macro level, a ground plane (concrete or rocks) is just like the surface of skin. You can take a simple photo of rock from 3D.SK, slap it on a simple plane, pull it into ZBrush and boom! You can inflate all the detail in the photography into a displacement for ground plains, buildings, or mountains.

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