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Problem with Normals and Seams
show user profile  EthanC
Hi guys,

I've come here looking for advice because of a problem we're having with our male and female human models.

My group is currently in development of a game and we've gotten pretty far but this problem with the humans is tripping us up.

The problem is that since armor and clothing are interchangeable in our game, in wanting to save polys (tris) we had the human models separated into corresopnding pieces that overlay perfectly. In essence when a player equips an armored helmet, the naked head beneath it is removed, saving us lots of rendering at runtime. the diffuse, normal map and specular for each model is totally seamless, however when we cut the model up after creating it, you could very easily see these seams all over the body.

However they're only visible with lighting enabled in-game so it took forever to even figure out what the seams were, since it was obvious they weren't related to the textures themselves lining up incorrectly.

It's the normals.

We just found that out a couple days ago when selecting a vertex, adding the edit normals modifier and manually rotating one until like magic the seam gradually disappeared. It seemed like a great discovery however the realization is that we're dealing with thousands of thousands of individual normals that needs to be re-aligned like that and also we dont know of a way of telling the normal exactly what value to use as the only way we found to move them was with the normal rotate cursor.

My question is this, how do we fix this? we tried recalcaulting the normal in our game engine with no effect at all and since the seams are visible in 3ds max, it has to be corrected in 3ds max apparently.

Is there some way we can tell the model to always display its normal "straight out" or however you say full-on?

If you can't tell by now I'm not a 3d guy and since we had these models done on consignment, the original creators aren't going to help us out since they've been paid already, so it's basically up to us if we can make this work or not.

Thanks in advance!

p.s I didn't see anywhere on here to attach an image but on request, if i get an email address i can send an image of what we're seeing.
read 629 times
3/21/2009 11:36:45 AM (last edit: 3/21/2009 11:38:38 AM)
show user profile  dd
upload your image to a image host online and post the link here. there is no need for code just the link will do
ie like
or photobucket or flickr

read 613 times
3/21/2009 12:35:32 PM (last edit: 3/21/2009 12:36:39 PM)
show user profile  Poopsmith
Try re-applying smoothing groups. I think they have something to do with how normal maps are calculated.
3d 2d digital artist special effects poopsmith

read 599 times
3/21/2009 1:18:58 PM (last edit: 3/21/2009 1:18:58 PM)
show user profile  EthanC
Poopsmith... That's classic :P

Anyway, i'd be more than happy to try this "smoothing groups" thing you mentioned but I'm not a 3ds guy so I wouldn't know how. I have enough knowhow to perform basic tasks like animation, application of materials but the complex stuff escapes me. if you coul point me in the right direction that would be helpful.

Here's a link to that image:

read 588 times
3/21/2009 2:17:29 PM (last edit: 3/21/2009 2:17:29 PM)
show user profile  Dave
The mesh itself appears to be seperate elements, at-least that's what I'm seeing.

"I flew over Egypt once"

read 573 times
3/21/2009 3:30:55 PM (last edit: 3/21/2009 3:30:55 PM)
show user profile  EthanC
Each section of body is it's own piece, it's own geometry, it's own object.
read 566 times
3/21/2009 3:55:28 PM (last edit: 3/21/2009 3:55:28 PM)
show user profile  K-tonne
it's highly unlikely you'll be able to make it look like one whole mesh with the amounts of elements you have
smart thing to do would be to start with a whole mesh and swap out as you need to- to have an armless mesh for the model with covering on the arms, headless mesh with a helmet and so on- not what you want to hear at all i'm sure

Website and Portfolio

read 561 times
3/21/2009 4:54:49 PM (last edit: 3/21/2009 4:54:49 PM)
show user profile  Dejitarujin
That seems pretty convoluted. Which I would normally be all for, but not so much in a game environment ;)

The last time I saw a game using separate parts like that, it was quite low-poly, and had less to do with swapping out armor and such, and more to do with the engine just not supporting skinning.
Specialty: Non-organic modelling and effects.
Setup: 3D Studio 2010 with finalRender.
Rig: No, no I can't.
read 556 times
3/21/2009 5:04:08 PM (last edit: 3/21/2009 5:04:08 PM)
show user profile  EthanC
It's the same system that Age of Conan uses so that the player can have his arms and head cutoff, and we implemented it in the same way so I know it works.

The concept is fully functional, I mean we have that working already the adding and subtracting of parts. The only thing that's wonky is graphical.
read 545 times
3/21/2009 6:48:05 PM (last edit: 3/21/2009 6:48:05 PM)
show user profile  Sir_Manfred
This is the result you get if you split the mesh after you've had the normalmaps baked.
What you have to do to fix it is simply rebaking the normal maps, but using the split-meshes this time.

Visit my Portfolio

read 526 times
3/22/2009 3:35:19 AM (last edit: 3/22/2009 3:35:19 AM)
show user profile  RogerRabbit
This comes when
1) the texture size is too small (for example 256*256) and padding 0 or
2) you use mipp-mapp filter. You can set up the filter in Max Material editor to NONE and check again if it smears...

there was an interesting tutorial on Unwrella about avoiding it, getting the pixels to be equal. Check here, there are max files, pdf etc, hope this helps

read 493 times
3/22/2009 6:02:29 PM (last edit: 3/22/2009 6:02:29 PM)
show user profile  EthanC

That seems like exactly what we need.

Could you walk me through doing that briefly?
read 484 times
3/22/2009 6:41:20 PM (last edit: 3/22/2009 6:41:20 PM)
show user profile  jbrophy
The issue with normals is they go different directions. Choose 2 offending parts next to eachother. You can use the edit normals modifier. Now select each vert pair and hit the average selected for each. If you did this correctly you won't see any seems in the view even with different meshes. This will resolve the issues. You will most likely have to rebake your normal maps after this process.

Jesse Brophy

Fry Monkey

read 468 times
3/22/2009 9:42:32 PM (last edit: 3/22/2009 9:42:32 PM)
show user profile  Dejitarujin
Out of curiosity, is that also how one would split apart any model without disrupting the appearance of smooth groups? Such as, say, fragmenting a vase or some such?
Specialty: Non-organic modelling and effects.
Setup: 3D Studio 2010 with finalRender.
Rig: No, no I can't.
read 466 times
3/22/2009 9:47:40 PM (last edit: 3/22/2009 9:47:40 PM)
show user profile  Dave
To echo Jbrophy, I made this a while back:

"I flew over Egypt once"

read 452 times
3/23/2009 6:01:39 AM (last edit: 3/23/2009 6:01:39 AM)
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