View Full Version : Vertex normals Maya

09-02-2011, 02:57 AM
Hey guys got a question for you.
I made a model, edited the vertex normals a bit so it looks more like its a high poly object. The specular highlight for example is tighter vs the "smoothed cube" stretchy highlight and what not.

Now whenever I edit a vertex' normal in Maya it automatically smooths it.
For example I made an edge hard, it now has 2 vertex normals pointing out at different angles. Now I want one of those to point at x0 y1 z0 and the other to be x1 y0 z0. (check image for a clearer explanation.)

How do I go about doing this? As I said manually editing vertex normal automatically smooths it so there is only one vertex normal to rotate.
I want to be able to edit the vertex normals individually.

I know there are scripts that do this, but the controls over the vertex normal manipulation is limited.

09-02-2011, 03:10 AM
I'll quote the "article" I wrote on another forum to show why this is useful.

It's actually pretty easy to make something look high poly without any normal maps or whatever.
Here are numerous ways to make a lowpoly model and how to smooth them using vertex normals.
First attachment (http://www.polycount.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=3005&d=1314957952)
from left to right,
- Simple cube, hard edges. Works ok for small details.
- Simple cube, soft edges. look pretty bad. The way it is smoothed it look like its trying to render a cube as a sphere.
- Simple cube with bevelled edges. This is better for medium to large objects. Always try to bevel your edges if polycount permits, this way baking normal maps will give better results. Though noticed how the "flat" surface look like they are curved.
- Cube with bevelled edges and extra edge loops to get that flat surface look going on. this is not recommended as it adds unnecessary polygons, plus the edges don't look as sharp as they should be.
- Same as number 3, has nice flat surfaces but obviously all hard edges which isn't ideal for normal map baking as hard edges mean potential ray misses.
- Same as number 3 but with edited vertex normals. Best method for making lowpoly models. Notice how the vertex normals point out like the first cube with hard edges. The flat surfaces are actually rendered flat as opposed to cube 3 and the bevelled edges have a nice sharp curve making it look like a high poly model.

So basically;
Try to bevel any hard edges if polycount permits.
Try to avoid edge breaks as much as possible when planning on baking a normal map.
Try to set your vertex normal perpendicular to the polygonal face as much as possible.

Here's another example
Second attachment (http://www.polycount.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=3006&d=1314957952)
from left to right;
- all smooth, waste of geometry the way it is right now.
- Looks better only the top edge ring has an edge break, but obviously the specular looks stretched.
- Both edge rings have hard edges, potential ray misses when normal map baking. Also its look allot more lowpoly now as well and misses the specular highlight altogether.
- Basically the same as number 2, only the top edge ring has an edge break. But this time the vertex normals on the lower ring are all pointing out perpendicular to the bigger faces, resulting into a tighter and correct specular making it look a bit more high poly.

09-02-2011, 03:40 AM
You can do this with some smart use of detach components and the Type-In Dialog of migNormalTools, might also need to think of locking your normals before some model adjustments sometimes.

I got someone from around here to make a plugin that does most of that work automatically (the part you already know how to do) really well on multiple selections without breaking hard edges etc, it's great for chamfered/beveled stuff and fancy cylinders, but I'm not sure if he's ready to share it with the world yet, need to convince him. :D

09-02-2011, 04:15 AM

Makes sense to detach it.. would have been nicer if I didn't need to do that though.

It'd be nice to get that plug-in =D.. Would definitely help speeding things up a bit.

09-02-2011, 04:17 AM
Right click > Vertex face > click on verts


09-02-2011, 04:58 AM
Right click > Vertex face > click on verts

You sir are awesome. Thanks!

09-02-2011, 04:59 AM

09-02-2011, 05:16 AM

Ah I knew someone else would have discovered this before me. I should visit Polycount more often.. Anyway that link in the first post seems to be dead. Pretty much the same principle as what Ii was doing it seems

09-02-2011, 05:49 AM
I think as already mentioned, MigNormalTools is your best bet. At least afaik.