Normal Maps to Unreal Engine: Installing xNormal and Overview

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Instructor John Burdock

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What is Xnormals and how to get it.

In this video you'll learn about the Normal Map Converting software you are going to be using, Xnormals. you'll also learn how to download and install it.



Now that we understand what Normal Maps are and how they're used, let's talk about a program called xNormal. So, first up, what is xNormal? xNormal is a baking and converting application for Normal Maps. Here's an example of what the xNormal interface might look like for you. Now that we know that, let's talk about, how are we going to use xNormal? What we're going to use it for is to convert our Object/World Space Normal Map we get out of CINEMA 4D by default into a Tangent Space Normal Map that Unreal Engine natively accepts. Now that we know that, let's talk about real quickly, the full process, the full process of creating the Normal Map in CINEMA 4D and making it compatible for Unreal Engine. To help kind of explain what this is, I prepared a nice diagram here showing that. First, we start in CINEMA 4D where we create our Object Space Normal Map, and then we convert that inside of xNormals to a Tangent Space Normal Map. We then use one of these three applications to flip the Y or Green Channel as it's called to make it fully compatible and ready to go for Unreal Engine. Now, I want to point out, you can use one of these three applications. You don't have to use all of them, you just pick one of them. This far as I know, these are the best applications for this. So, to start, we have xNormals, then we have Unreal Engine, and we also have Photoshop. Now, for the sake of this course, we're actually going to be using Unreal Engine to flip the Y or Green Channel because it actually does it, in my opinion, the easiest way of doing it with the best results. Now, this, of course, is my opinion, so I just want to leave that as an option that you can use Photoshop or xNormal if you'd rather use that. But now that we understand all of this, let's talk about how to get and install xNormal. Let's get down to figuring out how we can get this. So, to get xNormal, all you got to do is head to, where you can start the download. I'm just going to grab that web page here. I have it pre-set up for you, and this is the xNormal homepage. Now, it may not look super pretty, but xNormal is the industry standard and used in many workflows from game design all the way up to film and CG work. So, anything that involves Normal Maps, xNormal is the king of it. It does a very good job. And it gets even better, xNormal is 100% free, so I highly recommend getting this amazing piece of software. To start, let's just click Downloads right here, and this will bring us to the download section. Now, right now, I would like to point out xNormal is only compatible for Windows. I'm afraid it's not available for Mac users. So, Mac users will not be able to use xNormal. That said, though, for Windows users, feel free to just go over and click the Download xNormal right here. Now, that cursor isn't changing on your mouse, but that's okay. It'll still start the download when you click that. I actually have it pre-downloaded for me. So, I'm going to head over to my File Explorer. I'm using Windows 10, by the way, so just make sure to note that xNormal is going to download to the default directory for whatever browser you're using. For me, that would be right here, and this is the file you're going to get once you're done downloading xNormal and whatever version it currently is for you. All you have to do is double-click this, and it'll start the installer. Now, the screen probably went black for you, so I'm going to have to edit this in, but all this is asking me a yes or no, if I would like to use this application on my computer. I'm going to click Yes, and then it's going to start unpacking the xNormal file. It's only going to take a few moments but once this data is done packing, we're going to open up in the xNormal installer interface. The first thing you're going to need to do is click the Next button right here, and then read through this, and then click, I Agree. Once you've done that, you'll be presented with this Select Components to Install dialog. This lets us choose the components that we install along with xNormal. For me, I'm actually going to uncheck the special plug-ins and the Create Desktop Shortcut folders here. But if you would like to keep 3dsMax, Maya or Photoshop filters, you definitely could keep these checked on if you'd like, as it will not change the functionality of how we're going to be using xNormals. Do make sure, though, that you do keep the xNormal application actually checked on because we do need that one. Once you have the setup to your liking, though, just click Next, and then we just need to choose the default download directory for our xNormal application. For me, the default is fine. I'm just going to click Install, and now, it's going to begin installing xNormals. This can take anywhere from a few moments to a little bit longer, depending on the speed of your hard drive. For me, though, I actually have a pretty quick computer, so installed relatively quickly. Now, that it's done, all we have to do is click Next and then Close. xNormals is now installed on your computer. Feel free to launch this however you'd like. For me, I'm just going to launch through my search engine here and click xNormal, and now you can see that xNormals is launching on a computer and is now fully running. This is the xNormals interface. Now, we're not actually going to talk about the interface or the controls in xNormals yet. I'm going to save that for later on in the course. For now, though, let's head back to the little slides we have up here, as I want to talk and review what we just learned. So, what did we just learn? We just learned what xNormal is, how we are going to be using it, how to download and install it, and we'll be finishing up the normal map in Unreal Engine.
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