|Normal and specular maps generated using Substance Designer 4|
At some point in game development, you are likely going to need to do some texture mapping for your game materials. I'm not going to use this post to explain what textures and materials are, but if you don't know, check out this Wikipedia article about texture mapping and this page from Epic Games that discusses materials and textures. Here is a list of some popular free and paid software you can use to help you create materials for your game assets.
If you don't want to spend time manually making your texture maps in Photoshop (or paint or whatever graphics editing program you use), you're in luck.There are several texture map generators available to do most of the dirty work for you. With a majority of these programs, the process involves importing a diffuse map, and the software outputs corresponding texture maps for it (normal, ambient occlusion, etc.). Not all of them are built (or priced) alike, so the prices and features of some of the most popular tools are discussed below.
- CrazyBump- $299 for a commercial license and $99 for a non-commercial license
- BitmaptoMaterial- $150 for a commercial-use license, $50 for non-commercial
- Shadermap 2- $39.95
- FrozenFlame's Mindtex- $15
There are also free resources
- Smak- Free; Open source.
- Smart Normal - Flash 10/ Air-driven
- GIMP Plugins- If you use GIMP for your graphics editing needs, there are also a couple free plugins that you might want to try: Insane Bump and GIMP Normapmap.
- xNormal- This is a very popular free program that creates normal, ambient occlusion, displacement maps, and the latest update added support for rendering translucency maps and, as stated in their FAQ, "can also project the texture of the highpoly model into the lowpoly mesh."
I have, personally, only tried a trial of Crazybump, and Xnormal
All of the paid programs above have free trials, so feel free to try them all to see which you like best before diving in and spending money.