Normal Mapping

Normal mapping
  • Create a new, empty scene.
  • Remove the cube.
  • create two plane ("SHIFT+A", "Mesh/Plane")
    • One is going to be our high-resolution model
      • press "TAB" (mesh tools)
      • Click subdivide 6 times
      • Switch to "sculpt" mode and draw a few "hills" on the plane
      • select all vertices
      • click in "mesh tools" smooth a few times to "soften" the hills.
    • One is going to be low-res
      • Select it
      • create a new texture (under U/V)
      • unwrap the texture-coordinates
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  • Select the "render" tab and the bake part
  • Select Bake mode = "normals"
  • Selected to active = "true"
  • Select the high-resolution plane
  • Add the low-resolution plane to the selection (shift+right-click)

Now you have two "normal spaces" to render into: object-space & tangent-space. It depends on the 3D-engine you are using what is needed.
  • Select either "normalspace = "objectspace" OR "normalspace = "tangent"
  • and "Bake" and you get one of the below images as a result:
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Now we want to put the normal map on our low-resulution plane, however having it visually look like the high-resolution plane.
  • Move the high-resolution version of the plane to the side
  • Select the low-resolution plane
  • create a new material
  • create a new texture / Image / "Browse image to be linked", and select the baked normalmap-texture
  • under "influence", deselect "color" and select "normal"
  • under "image sampling", select "normal map" and "tangent" (or "object, depending on what you generated previously)
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Here we have both low & hi-resolution planes as wireframe
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Now switch the "viewport shading" to "textured" and notice your low-resolution plane looks similar to the high-resolution one.
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Under "object mode" press "N" to open the properties screen, find "display" and "shading" and change it to "GLSL". Note: It somehow is "flipped" here... need to figure out why...
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