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Writing a research paper for school - Subject : Normal maps

arnareli
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arnareli polycounter lvl 3
Hello polycounters! So I'm currently writing a research paper for school and decided on a topic that could teach me something that could benefit my future school work (focused around modeling, texturing etc.) So I chose to write about normal maps, far as I can see they play a big part of making the games we all love look good. If I gave myself 3 factors to work from to begin with well and fast over cheap, so the method/workflow I'm interested is getting the cleanest (well) result the fastest way (fast) rather then accepting "cheap" results (with artifacts for example) or lower quality. 

So I thought I'd seek your advice on the topic, if you are willing and have any information at all I would be glad to receive it! I'm only on my first year in school so some highly technical topics might go over my head but lets hope not. 
Since this is a research paper I will have to make comparisons/tests and show results, it would be very useful to get suggestions on what kind of comparisons/test I could make, my thoughts so far are if I have a asset I'm making a normal map and other textures for it and make at least two normal maps with two different specs I could see the difference by comparing bit rates, memory usage, ways to bake and file formats, there are no doubt other or better tests I could do right?

To sum up a bit, any information you found useful or think one needs to know would be appreciated. I have been reading here in the forums and found some material to help me like posts from EarthQuake, thank you very much for the information! Below I will put my 2.nd draft of the essays table of content, currently the software I have to use in this research are Maya, Zbrush, Substance Painter, Unreal Engine 4 and I have been using xNormal for baking.

Any tips or tricks would be great no information is useless, well if it's not wrong that is haha :) 

Table of content
(2. Draft)

·       Introduction

             o   Research question stated

             o   Why, What is the reason of researching this topic?

·       What is a normal map and what is it used for?

             o   A general overview of the subject.

...................................................................................................

·       What are possible benefits and costs of using a normal map for your product?

             o   How do they benefit, what major costs follow using them?

·       Technical overlook of normal maps

             o   A more specific/detailed overlook of how they work, technical specificities one must know.

·       Where and when in a pipeline should you make them and apply them correctly?

             o   How do you make them?

             o   What software are you using and how are you applying them?

             o   What are the most common mistakes or misconceptions people do/have with normal maps

·       Testing our results, what have we learned so far?

             o   Comparison of normal map for the same object done at least two different ways.

             o   Did we hit the target? If not what can we change?

...................................................................................................

·       Conclusion

             o   What is there to gain from knowing how to apply normal maps?

             o   Where and when should you use a normal map?

             o   Is there really a right way over any other or is it all situational?

·       Last words

            o   What did I learn?

            o   How will this information help me in the future?

Thanks for reading!

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