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Normal map vs height map

Hello. I'm creating a procedural material library in Substance Designer for our PC/nextgen game. With both normal and height maps, and with tesselation set in the shader, the materials look great inside Designer, but I know this won't translate 1:1 into UE4.

I'll consult this with our techs, but I'd like to know what the general practice is these days. Here are my thoughts/doubts/options:

  1. Parallax is cheap, use height map everywhere VS use only normal map in most materials.

  2. For parallax, use Bump offset node?

  3. Tesselation is gpu-heavy, but it's good to use it for more important objects. How often, though?

  4. In my early tests, neither tessellation, nor parallax occlusion, look as good in UE4 as in Designer. Possible reasons?

  5. Put same information into both normal and height maps? Or macro shape in height, and fine detail in normal? If the latter, but, in some materials, we won't use height map at all, then normal maps will look different depending on whether we'll be using height maps or not. In other words, while designing a material, we have to know from start whether height map will be used in UE4, or not. Or at least have 2 different normal map outputs, for use with and without height map.

  6. Use parallax/tessellation/no height at all depending on material type (organic/hard surface/floor/buildings/characters etc.)?

Any comments on those points will be greatly appreciated.

Product Version: UE 4.11
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asked Jun 11 '16 at 06:51 PM in Rendering

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