Bump Mapping

Bump Mapping

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Bump mapping is a technique used in computer graphics to create the illusion of surface detail on 3D models without actually modifying their geometry. It is a form of texture mapping that adds visual depth and texture to objects by simulating the interaction of light with uneven surfaces.

In bump mapping, a texture called a bump map is applied to a 3D model. The bump map contains grayscale information that represents variations in surface height. The brighter areas of the bump map correspond to higher elevations, while the darker areas represent lower elevations. By manipulating the normals (surface direction) of the object based on the grayscale values of the bump map, the lighting calculations can create the illusion of bumps, dents, wrinkles, or other surface details.

The process of bump mapping involves the following steps:

  1. Creating or acquiring a grayscale bump map that represents the desired surface details.
  2. Applying the bump map to the 3D model by associating each texel (texture element) with a corresponding point on the model’s surface.
  3. Modifying the normals of the surface based on the brightness of the corresponding bump map texel. Brighter areas push the surface outwards, while darker areas pull the surface inwards.
  4. Performing lighting calculations on the modified normals to generate realistic shading and highlights that accentuate the surface details.

Bump mapping is widely used in computer games, simulations, and visual effects to enhance the realism of virtual objects. It is a computationally efficient technique compared to physically modifying the geometry of models, making it suitable for real-time rendering applications.

Bump mapping can be combined with other shading techniques, such as specular mapping and normal mapping, to achieve even more realistic and detailed surface appearances.

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