How to Create Height Maps

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Height maps (also known as bump maps) are widely used in CGI graphics and 3D animation to make renders faster. They do this by simulation depth or height detail on models that would otherwise have to be modeled in. If you would like to create a height map for a 3D model texture, you will need to use a graphics program like Photoshop.

Things You'll Need

  • Photoshop
  • Open Photoshop. Select "File" and click "Open." Browse to the location of the texture map you want to create a height map for and open it. Now immediately select "Save As" and save the file under a new name in a new location. This will protect your original file.

  • Select "Image," then "Mode" and click "Grayscale." Now go to the bottom of the layer panel and create a new layer.

  • Change the "Foreground" color to white and the "Background" color to black. Use the background layer as a reference when you paint. Select the "Paintbrush" and paint to highlight the areas you want "high" by painting them white. Then highlight the areas you want low by painting them black.

  • Fill the background layer with a medium gray color. Then go to "Layers" and select "Merge Layers." Then add a "Gaussian Blur."

  • Select "File" and click "Save." Save your document as a bitmap file.

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