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Correctly exported normal maps

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Correctly exported normal maps

Postby ledbetterman » 05 Aug 2016, 01:03

I'm attempting to replace the low-res normal maps for the Illusive Man in ME3 with those found in ME2. As you probably know, photoshop opens up the extracted .dds normals much brighter than normal, affecting the depth of the normal map. I know how to re-adjust the levels of the normal map to match the original, but when I export from photoshop, I still get the washed out, bright version.

Can anyone experienced in upscaling textures give me some advice as to which settings you use to export normal maps so they have the proper depth when upscaling them in Texplorer?

(ps- I know this is probably better suited in the "Modders Help" area, but I was unable to add a new thread there.)

Thanks!

EDIT: Found a great tutorial series by SaltIsGood, where he goes over this particular export problem in photoshop and shows how to fix it using the DirectX SDK tools:

https://youtu.be/uBIPPH_NH9E?list=PLk-2 ... DhIf&t=185

To Summarize:

1. Download DirectX SDK 2010: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/downloa ... px?id=6812
2. If you have the Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 Redestributable installed (both x86 & x64 bit versions), uninstall it. It will interfere with tool installation.
3. Install DirectX SDK tools. Open the 64-bit Texture Tool from Applications > MicrosoftDirectXSDK > DirectXTextureTool
4. Save your normal map in your image editor as a lossless format (.png or .bmp)
5. Open your saved normal map file in the texture tool. Go to Format > Change Surface Format > V8U8 (for mass effect 3)
6. Go to Format > Generate Mip Maps
7. Save As: Image File (.dds)
8. You now have a properly generated normal map for Mass Effect 3. This fixes the mirrored/seamed normal maps that some TPF mods come with (there are many in ALOT for Me2, watch for them).
9. Be sure to reinstall Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 Redestributable either via Windows Update (should do so automatically next time Windows updates), or from the following link: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/downloa ... x?id=26999

Thanks to SaltIsGood for his insight.
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Re: Correctly exported normal maps

Postby CreeperLava » 05 Aug 2016, 10:06

If you still need to use Photoshop to edit norms, you can save them as .tga, then convert the targa to dds using DXTT.

Out of curiosity, what is the name of the Illusive Man's textures in ME2 ?

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Re: Correctly exported normal maps

Postby giftfish » 05 Aug 2016, 16:25

And, this is a texture modding question, so it should be posted in Textures and Meshes. I know it's not linked yet on the home page, which is b/c I still haven't finalized it yet as part of the forum overhaul. Will do that soon.

In the meantime, post other questions of this nature here, please :)

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Re: Correctly exported normal maps

Postby ledbetterman » 05 Aug 2016, 21:37

CreeperLava wrote:If you still need to use Photoshop to edit norms, you can save them as .tga, then convert the targa to dds using DXTT.

Out of curiosity, what is the name of the Illusive Man's textures in ME2 ?


His face textures are all under the header "hmm_hed_proillusiveman_". That will pull up the diff and norms for his face. I'm not sure about his clothes.

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Re: Correctly exported normal maps

Postby CreeperLava » 05 Aug 2016, 22:41

The clothes are what interest me, unfortunately^^. Thanks, anyways :).
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Re: Correctly exported normal maps

Postby Tarshana » 19 Sep 2016, 08:06

I have done this ten ways to Friday and have not been successful. I am using the latest Photoshop 6, should I downgrade for doing this? Husband has CS3 and I think I have 5 on the laptop. The norm pictures end up looking a severe dark blue, like an Asari's bum and it does not look right in game :(
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Re: Correctly exported normal maps

Postby KFreon » 19 Sep 2016, 12:51

Asari's bums always look right...
Maybe I'm just biased :P

EDIT2: Just re-read you post and realised you've already solved the problem. Ah well. Here for posterity :)


It's been a problem since the beginning, and I'm not actually sure how modders like Ottemis and Ele got around it, but in my dabbling with things, I went by a round about option.

Workarounds
Basically, you want to convert the normal map to something that behaves properly. DDS' aren't good to repeatedly edit, since they're lossy compressed, just as an FYI.

One thing you can do is use something in the DirectX toolkit or the DDS Converter in the toolset to convert to .png (lossless and keeps alpha channel if there is one. Note that the DDS Converter might have to have a setting for this.)
Then you can edit the .png as normal in Photoshop, exporting as .png when done.
Use the DDS Converter/DirectX to convert back to V8U8 or 3Dc or whichever normal format it is :)

In summary:
    1. DDS -> png (using DDS Converter)
    2. Edit as png in Photoshop.
    3. Save/export as png from Photoshop.
    4. png -> DDS (using DDS Converter)


Hopefully that helps :)

EDIT: You could also try GIMP, but I believe it has similar issues with DDS' in general, and normal maps in particular.
If the DDS Converter in the toolset doesn't work, you can also use the DirectX toolkit to convert to DXT5 or something, which should be properly editable in Photoshop, then convert back using the toolkit again.
I'd also like to know if the Converter doesn't work HERE :)
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Re: Correctly exported normal maps

Postby Tarshana » 20 Sep 2016, 16:32

lol and at least the Asari's can look good in blue right?

And no, I have not really solved it :( but! you gave me an idea. So what you are saying is I can use Texplorer to export the image files in a PNG format instead of DDS? Because I am almost certain that is what the issue is. If I can do that it will help on a lot of fronts since people need the vanilla norms and a simple export and upload does not work properly. I have been working on fixing some face seams and the normals refuse to cooperate.
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Re: Correctly exported normal maps

Postby Ottemis » 20 Sep 2016, 19:46

Photoshop has a tendency to translate 2 channel texture data over three channels, when you open a texture in it that only holds data over two channels, not three it ends up looking so much lighter.
Open the (ME2 normal) texture in Photoshop and adjust the brightness by -60 and the contrast by 50 (by approximation):
Image

You can fiddle with it some, it's not an exact match but it gets you pretty damn close.

Save as .PNG or .TGA.
Open in DirectXTexture Tool, change surface format to Signed 16bit v8u8, generate MIPs and save.
That should do it.

As for facial seams, you'll want to exchange values on the wrap seams of neighboring textures regardless, AKA make sure the diffuse RGB and A and the normal have the same values around the edges of the facial and scalp textures.

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Re: Correctly exported normal maps

Postby KFreon » 20 Sep 2016, 22:13

@Tarshana: What I meant was you can convert the texture format once you've exported it from Texplorer.
But Ottemis knows how to edit these things, so I'd follow her Instructions :D
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