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xNormal is an application to bake normal/displacement/cavity/relief/cone/ambient occlusion maps from a very high polygonal mesh into a lowpoly one. Also provides a tool set to convert height maps to normal maps, cavity maps, cone maps, etc... and includes also a realtime 3D viewer with shaders and 3dsmax and Photoshop plug-ins.

xNormal 3.14.3

February 24, 2008


  • Added a three light simulation in the 3D viewer
  • Added more options to the fine detail
  • Corrected some minor bugs

xNormal 3.14.2

February 9, 2008

  • Corrected some minor bugs

xNormal 3.14.1

January 28, 2008


  • Added a DX10 graphics driver with HDRI, improved bloom effect and sightly better soft shadows.
  • Added an useful text information in the 3D viewer: the maximum cage distance. You can measure better uniform ray distances and height limits just going to the "edit cages" mode and looking at the text's value.
  • The height map rendering no longer requires to enter manually the min/max ray length in the options dialog. Now uses the cage as limit or the const uniform ray distances on the highpoly mesh list. Max cage distance
  • Solved some bugs ( including a crash in the Simple AO GPU tool when loading files with more than one mesh inside ).

xNormal 3.14.0

January 18, 2008


  • Added Luxology Modo, Nevercenter Silo and Geomview mesh importers.
  • Solved some bugs in the Ogre importer ( flipped UVs and tangent basis data ). Also solved several bugs in the PLY mesh importer.
  • The PLY, OBJ and ASE mesh importers now consume less memory. Used the Stanford's mesh collection with 1,5Gb of RAM to test. The Lucy mesh ( 116M polygons ) was loaded without problems with that amount of memory.
  • The realtime ray tracing graphics driver has been optimized to manage big meshes better. Standford's mesh set
  • Added per-vertex ambient occlusion computation in the simple GPU AO tool.
  • The 3D viewer was adapted to show the per-vertex-AO in both highres and lowpoly mesh models. Per-vertex AO
  • Changed completely the rendering system to make it more efficient and to consume less RAM. Now uses a "bucket" approach. Now is possible to render 4k x 4k maps with full antialiasing without problems. The new adaptive sampling render system allows to generate the maps faster when you enable antialiasing. A diagnostics option has been added to see visually the sampling density.
  • Modified the preview window to show the realtime progress of the render.
  • To finish, the maps baked don't use the alpha channel anymore. Now you can use "paste" or to enter manually a path in the file boxes. Some bugs were corrected too.

xNormal 3.12.0

November 6, 2007


  • Added video capture support inside the 3D viewer ( with coded selection ).
  • Removed 32k UV lowpoly limit to improve compatibility with ZBrush AUV/GUV tiles.
  • Added a realtime ray tracing graphics driver ( 100% software, no need for any hardware ).
  • Optimized CPU multicore usage.
  • Added a new height map - to - occlusion map method ( LON )
  • Added PRT-n/p map baking.
  • Added a GPU tool to bake simple ambient occlusion.
  • Added a height map - to - cone map tool for improved parallax effect.
  • Added 3DSMax 2008 support.
  • Added Ogre engine mesh importer/exporter.
  • Added OpenEXR B44A compression support.
  • Improved the compatibility of the PLY mesh importer.
  • Solved tons of bugs ( including a severe hangup when rendering the AO, fixed dilation filter for Photoshop, 3D viewer memory leaks, solved Radeon HD 2XXX problems, etc... ).

xNormal 3.11.1

August 31, 2007


  • Corrected a bug that was generating the message "The size of the cage data must be ZERO or equal to the positions array count" with certain external cage files ( position welding ).
  • Revamped the Photoshop dilation filter so you don't have anymore to flatten the image or to select an alpha channel mask to work.
  • Corrected a bug that was not setting well the default mesh scale ( 1.0 ) in both lowpoly and highpoly slots.
  • Added a function in the highpoly mesh context menu to load multiple meshes at one time ( load mesh folder ).
  • The AO bent normals default backbround has been set to (0,0,1) normal ( blue color ) like the normal map one.

xNormal 3.11.0

July 20, 2007


  • Added full screen antialiasing support for the DX9 graphics driver.
  • Added a checkbox inside the 3D viewer to lock the position of the light to the camera. Notice the shadows dissapear when you enable this mode(which is logical on the other hand)...
  • ATI viewer problems solved(I hope...)
  • Changed the default normal map back color to that nice blue we all luv!
  • Added a checkbox to auto center the camera orbit point in the 3D viewer.
  • Distributed rendering with hxGrid
  • Added "attenuation" and "jitter" options to the ambient occlusion generation. Also improved a lot the quality of the AO generation. Caution when you set the # of rays... now with 32 you can get the same results than 200 before.
  • Modified internally the memory manager to allow to use RAM more efficiently. That increases a lot the polygon limits.
  • Solved a crash bug when you set the render maps width and height different.
  • Added a two new Photoshop filters: the dilation filter and the normalize filter.
  • Now the grid is a plane, not lines.
  • Solved a problem that was causing the 3DSMAX6/7/8 exporter not to be loaded using 3DSMAX 6 and 7.
  • Added projective caustics/translucent shadows to the 3D viewer ( see Bojana's example ).
  • Now the DX9 graphics driver will use high-quality floating-point normal maps if your graphics card can filter/mipmap them correctly.
  • Added axis indicators to the referenceCubemap.jpg.
  • Rolled back to the DirectX April 2007 edition due to problems with the June 2007 one ( debug mode is broken, speed loss, etc... ).
  • Added a new tool: the object/tangent space converter.
  • Added a "mesh scale" parameter to control the conversion units when importing geometry.
  • Solved some hang problems with multi-core CPUs when showing the progress window.
  • Corrected tons of bugs and improved the UI accesibility with tab order.

Enjoy it!

xNormal 3.10.6

10 Jun 2007


  • Added two new examples from Howard Day and Vidar Rapp.
  • Added an option to render a cheap and fast AO map from a lowpoly model + a normal map.
  • Improved numerical stability and memory efficiency.
  • Rewritten the multicore renderer.
  • Added the 8MonkeyLabs mesh importer for their upcoming game Darkest of days
  • Two new tools: the heightmap to occlusion and PhotoNormal to generate normal maps from photographs. Also added the normal map to cavity methods.
  • Added automatic camera and light rotation in the 3D viewer.
  • Added antialiased/non-antialiased map mask output files.
  • Solved tons of bugs

xNormal 3.10.5

29 Apr 2007

Just uploaded the 3.10.5 with some bugs corrected, a SBM mesh exporter port for old 3dsmax version(6/7/8) and recompiled the image filters to support the new Photoshop CS3.

xNormal is an application to generate normal / ambient occlusion / parallax displacement maps. It also includes an interactive 3D viewer with multiple meshes and textures formats support ( including COLLADA 1.4 ). The idea is to model the highpoly and lowpoly models with your favourite program ( 3dsmax, maya, xsi, lw, silo, blender, zbrush, modo, mudbox, etc...) and then pass them to xNormal to bake some maps easy and fast.

xNormal 3.10.4

16 Apr 2007

  • Improved AO rendering speed.
  • Added a "bent normals / unoccluded direction" map generation.
  • Added MIN/MAX rendering values for almost all the maps. You can use to control the bright/contrast with that.
  • Now you can use the "AO Bias" option to eliminate surface self-collision problems.
  • Also added a new AO distribution model, the "Random" one, which is very useful to add some dirt to the shadow areas.
  • Solved some bugs in the OpenGL graphics driver painting the highpoly models and also some problems in the DX9 graphics driver rendering meshes.
  • Added an option to ignore the ray hit if the highpoly normal and the lowpoly one are opposite ( to solve reversed-normal problems ).
  • Added a Photoshop PSD image importer.
  • Added Photoshop CS/CS2 filters for the xNormal height map to normal map and normal map to cavity map tool.
  • Added 3DSMAX 9 .SBM mesh importer/exporter plugins with complete cage support ( with the "Projection Modifier" ).
  • Added support for the HD Photo ( Windows Media Photo ) image format which allows to compress ( a lot! ) with much more quality than the JPGs and close or even better than the JPEG2000 image format. It includes support for alpha channels and can be lossy or lossless.
  • Added a new amazing example created by Bojana Nedeljkovic for the Dominance War 2 contest. I wish her the best luck to win!
  • Also added other incredible Diablo 3 example created by Samuel Arshlevon for the Blizzard 2006 contest.
  • Added a new tool to generate a cavity map approximation from a tangent-space normal map.
  • Changed the old installer by the new and better NullSoft Scriptable Install System one.
  • Finally, solved a lot of minor bugs ( numeric up-down increment revised, black sand remover configure button, degenerated triangle-cages crash, etc... )