ZGametools Normal map algorithm – Test Overview

That test is not supposed to tell which is best or worst, so make your own appreciation keep in mind only the final result is the most important thing that you should never forget.


Industry Standard requirements for Normal map texture:

  • Support DirectX and OpenGL Normal map.
  • Compatible with all game engine  ( Unreal Engine 4 , CryEngine 5 , Unity 3D 5.5 , Stingray )
  • Compatible with software editors  like  Substance painter, Substance Designer and more
  • Support DirectX compression, Optimized for DXT5 and BC5 compression.
  • The Normal map are computed from 16bits matcap data ,then are  rendered with BPR and directly exported to RGB 8 bits PSD /TIFF file format, without extra edits to apply in Photoshop.
  • No Banding Issue ( read more about Banding)
  • Rendering time and quality of the anti-aliasing of BPR renderer.

In both articles I am trying to make relevant observations i am comparing the normal map i had baked using Substance Painter (native RGB16bits) with the normal map baked using ZGametools in PSD RGB 8bits file format and imported into Substance painter as texture resource.

  • Comparison and observations with  Substance Painter 2.4.1
  • Comparison and observations with Marmot Toolbag 3.0
  • Comparison and observations with Unreal Engine 4.14
  • Comparison and observations with Unity 5.5

Note :  Both articles linked above are constantly updated.

The stress test

What is my Objective ?

My objective to provide a normal mapping algorithm to use with ZGametools Texturer Plugin in Zbrush that is conform with all  the industry requirement and who follow all conventions and all norms, and that could compete with other algorithm on the market.

Why do I based my comparison and observations, on substance painter normal map algorithm  why not a different algorithm ?

To me the best and finest baking algorithm for normal mapping on the market, is the one built
by the Allegorithmic developers. The normal map you bake with Allegorithmic tools, are compatible with many game engine and editors.
What i am trying to reproduce with ZGametools is to provide at least, an equivalent of in terms of quality and compatibility,
than what Substance designer and substance painter would provide to you no matter which are the game engine or software editors
you would like to use with ZGametools normal mapping algorithm.

The Baking Setup

To make sure i based my research in the right direction, I setup a mesh and exported it to subtance Painter, to bake a clean normal maps.

Substance painter normal map spec :

  • Texture resolution  : 2048* 2048
  • Baked RGB16bits and supersampling 4×4
  • Exported to PSD format in RGB 8bits
  • Rendering time : 1 minute 36 secs
ZGametools normal map specs :

  • Texture resolution : 2048*2048
  • Baked and exported to PSD RGB 8bits
  • Anti-Aliasing : BPR subpixel level 3
  • Rendering Time : 6 ~ 10 seconds

Switch between the tabs to compare both Textures


(Click for the full Size )

( Click for the full Size )

Here is the hires model  sculpted in Zbrush, then exported as Obj file to bake the normal map in Susbstance Painter 2.4.1.

This is the same model i use to bake directly in Zbrush.



Posted in CryEngine, Game Development, Game Engine, Plugins, Research & Development, Software, SourceEngine, Unity 3D, Unreal Engine, Zbrush, ZGametools.

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