{Tutorial} – Combining two Normal Maps in Maya[2011]

NOTE: New version can be found here


So last time I showed how to combine bump maps with normal maps in Maya. This time I’ll show how to combine two Normal Maps.

I’ve used this before for cloth, like say I sculpt in the big folds etc in zbrush and baked a normal map out, I then made a tileable cloth fabric normal map and combined them in Maya so that if we zoom in on the fabric you can see the individual weaving.

I’m pretty sure games do this as well.

So what I used in this Tutorial

– Maya 2011

– Photoshop CS5

– Nvidia Texture Tools for Photoshop (http://developer.nvidia.com/nvidia-texture-tools-adobe-photoshop)

– Maya +|- Average Node

First off you need the two normal maps you want to combine. I’m just going to use one of the normal maps from the Eldar Bounty Hunter as well as the cloth texture built into Maya.

I’m going to assume you already know how to apply a normal map to an object. If not I think I show how to do it in my tutorial about combining bump maps with normal maps.

So here is my sphere with a single normal map.

Here is just my fabric normal Map (I show how I made this at the end of the tutorial)

Okay so to combine these two in Maya we’ll need to create a +|- Average node in maya.
After the +|- Average node is made we want to go into it’s attribute editor and create some stuff. In the 3D input we want to add 2 new items. We are adding a 3D one because it is a vector that we are adding, vectors have 3 channels which is what normal maps use to tell direction RGB. Well that is what I’m assuming anyway
So we want to create two new items because we will be adding two normal maps to it.
Next we want to take our 2d bump node and plug it into one of the 3d Inputs. So first middle click drag the 2d bump node onto the +|- Average node and choose other
Then on the left side scroll down to “outNormal” and for the right side expand the “input3D” by clicking on the + and choose one of the inputs
When this is done do the same with the other 2D bump node just make sure you select the input3d that isn’t being used
After that we want to go to the +|- Average and change it from “sum” to “average”, we don’t want it on sum because we don’t want to add up the information of the normal maps. Note the yellow channel boxes which mean there are incoming connections.
After this is set we just need to apply the +|- Average node into our bump channel of our material, I used a lambert
With that it should work
Next time I will show how to combine two mia_material_x shaders into a Layered texture node.
I’ll also show how I made that fabric normal map when I have some free time as well.

8 thoughts on “{Tutorial} – Combining two Normal Maps in Maya[2011]

  1. Halleluja….praise the lord:) I’ve been googling 360 degrees for 8 hours to find this sollution! I think this is the only page on the net that covers this topic with a WORKING solution:

    PS: Maybe you also know how to add in a multiply Divide node so you can controll the blending of the 2 normal maps? Would we a nice follow up;)

    Thank you very much!

    1. Hey ya Thanks for the Comment,

      yea I forgot to mention that with this method both of the normal maps will look not as strong as when by themselves. I’m thinking of updating this which will hopefully make both of the normal maps look like they have their original intensity.

      Also good idea on the multiply divide node, I’m not very technical with Maya as I’m just a character artist but I will give it a go and if I can get it working I will definitely put it up. Good feedback

  2. Hey Matt,

    Cool stuff! I would do “sum” instead of “average” and then “clamp” the values between -1 and 1. This way the maps will not look faded out.
    Regarding combining the color instead of the outNormal you are running into a similar problem where you must normalize the output! In this situation you need to blend them somehow 50% – 50% dark-light.. sort of how overlay works in photoshop. But this is more pain.. just do the way you started.


    1. You’re welcome, do note that this method the normal maps will be a little faded compared to just having a single normal map

  3. hi i use other programs but i need to do a similar map
    acutely i want to the same effect of your first bump map
    how can i make a smiler image and use it as bump map
    or can you share with us the image that you use as a bump map with us so i can study that and make one


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