Gmax Tutorial: Bake Normal / Specular Maps into Diffuse Map

Export a 3ds Max model to .3DS format (read the tutorial: Import 3ds Max models into Gmax). This makes it possible to import the .3DS file into Gmax or any other 3D modeling software.

Baking Normal, Specular, and Diffuse maps will help simulate Normal Bump and Specular rendering. This is best used in older 3D software like Gmax, because it does not render these maps.

It’s like the old style bump mapping used before new video cards, and video game machines made Normal and Specular maps possible. Back then all color, highlights and shadows, was put into the Diffuse map. Now a days, Normal and Specular maps give you more 3D depth and realism on a model.

Download the pics


Copy the three bitmaps into a paint program like Photoshop or Gimp.



Photoshop Example

Turn on the Specular layer.



On the specular layer, go to Magic Wand, set Tolerance to 0, and uncheckContiguous. Click the black background, then Delete. This will keep just the highlights showing. On the menu go to Blur / Blur More, to soften the pixels.




Turn on the diffuse layer. On the specular layer go to Screen mode, and bring down the Opacity until it looks not too shiny.



Move the normal layer above the diffuse. Go to Image / Adjustments / Black and White, then Image / Adjustments / Invert.



Change the mode on the normal layer to Overlay. Right click any layer and Flatten. The normal and specular maps are now Baked together to simulate highlights, shadows, and depth.



In Gmax: Unbaked diffuse map. Plain and dull.


In Gmax: Baked diffuse map. The highlights and shadows give more depth and realism.


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