Two pieces of software in particular, nDo and dDo by Quixel have been creating a buzz in the industry. With nDo you can create a normal map from a texture based on a huge array of pre-sets, but you can also draw in Photoshop and it will update the normal map, therefore speeding up the traditional workflow of generating normal maps, by creating high-res sculpts and baking the detail to a low-res mesh. So I wanted to get to grips with the software as an alternative to sculpting.
For my character texture I used the chipped metal pre-set to generate the normal map. Once generated it opens up a view-cube in Photoshop and lets you see the material with real time lighting and how that will affect your model. You can also go in and paint on the document and control the pre-sets to customise the normal map how you see fit.
Once you've created your normal map, with dDo open you can put the diffuse and normal map in their respective slots and then pick a pre-set based on the effect you want to create. For my own texture I used Edge Scratch with White Worn Weapon to create random scratches around the edges of my UV's, it also adds effects such as oxidisation and random dirt to the material.
As with nDo, once dDo has baked the textures it opens a view-cube in Photoshop giving you a preview of how light will affect the material in 3D, you can also load your own mesh into the preview window. As well a diffuse and normal map with the added scratches and dirt, it also bakes out a specular and height map with these additions. The document is still fully customisable and updates in real-time to show any changes. It really helped to make my first colour pass texture feel less flat and naturally aged.
After exporting all the maps generated by dDo I then applied them to my model in Max for such a low resolution model I was really happy with the results. Rather than looking clean and new my character was looking aged and worn just like how I wanted.
The Final diffuse texture still needs work but I'm still learning both nDo and dDo. It's certainly helped randomise the dirt and discolouration applied to the underlying texture but perhaps overdone it! I also need to add more scratches around the edges of where the metal is worn to create a more natural look.