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Normal maps

arno

Administrator
Staff member
FSDevConf team
Resource contributor
Hi all,

As I am updating the MCX preview to support PBR materials as well, I need to make sure that the various types of normal maps are supported correctly.

For FSX we always had to do a special conversion for our bump maps. If I understand it correctly for MSFS that is no longer needed and we can use the normal maps as typically made by other tools. But how about P3D? As far as I know the earlier versions of P3D use the same normal/bump map as FSX, but I believe I also read somewhere that P3D v5 has already dropped that convention. Can somebody let me know how you developers handle your normal maps for the different versions?
 

Christian Bahr

Resource contributor
Hi Arno.

I'm not sure, but the P3D could be using OpenGL Normal Map?
MSFS uses DirectX Normal Maps, I read that in the documentation for the MSFS SDK.

Usually the P3D Normal Map has 4 channels (RGBA):
p3d_normal_map.jpg



The MSFS Normal Map has 3 channels (RGB):
msfs_normal_map.jpg
 

arno

Administrator
Staff member
FSDevConf team
Resource contributor
Hi all,

By comparing the P3D and FSX shaders I have come to the conclusion that P3D does still use the FSX style normal maps in PBR mode as well (at least in v4.4 I have installed, not sure if it changed in v5).
 

Christian Bahr

Resource contributor
No, nothing has changed between the PBR version 4.5 and the PBR version 5 of the P3D. But I have one question. I mentioned an "OpenGL Normal Map" above. But I am not at all sure whether there is such a thing at all. Or is there just a DirectX Normal Map -> looking at the alpha channel of the normal map at the P3D?
 

arno

Administrator
Staff member
FSDevConf team
Resource contributor
I don't think there is an OpenGL and DirectX normal map. For some reason the FSX developers have chosen to not follow the normal convention and use their own layout. Not sure why they did that, hopefully they had a good reason :)
 
I don't think there is an OpenGL and DirectX normal map. For some reason the FSX developers have chosen to not follow the normal convention and use their own layout. Not sure why they did that, hopefully they had a good reason :)
From the SDK:
The Normal maps used in the rendering engine reassign the Red channel as an Alpha channel and leave the Green and Blue components unchanged. This saves disk space and aids performance.
 
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