Normal Map Update for Weapon skins

-GB A recent update to CS:GO introduced normal maps for skins. The only skin to currently use it right now is the Victoria, which I’ll be using to show the differences in this video. Normal mapping is an exciting new technology, only introduced around the time that Half Life 2 first came out in 2004. It makes flat surfaces appear 3D, applying the correct brightness and colour to each bit. Back in Half Life 2 it was used to make rocks appear jagged, and to aliens to give them beautiful curves and appealing bumps. Like so. For some reason it’s been absent from CS:GO, much to the frustration of skin makers. UNTIL NOW! This side-by-side comparison shows the difference it makes. Notice how flat the old version looked.

Now, the engravings don’t just look drawn on and it’ll be especially bumpy looking if you’re near a coloured or high contrast light-source. This new shader is particularly evident on engraved metal surfaces, which is why I suspect they used the Victoria to showcase it first. When speaking with all of the weapon artists recently, I heard repeatedly how limiting it was without a normal map- many ideas that could have looked great were scrapped simply because they NEEDED this feature! When making the Vulcan, its maker, Jim, shared with me the struggles he faced because pre-baked shadows were frowned upon. Normal mapping should alleviate these pains somewhat and is now available for skin makers who are using the Custom paint job, Patina or Gunsmith finishes. You might know of bump mapping, which stores the height of a texture. This would produce similar results. HOWEVER, Normal mapping goes one better, cleverly using the 3 colour channels to store the DIRECTION it’s facing as well as the height.

This means that if you’re near several different coloured lights, it looks like THIS. Beautiful. Before, a flat surface would only reflect the colour it’s directly facing. But now, different bits can light up in different colours. It’s simply beautiful to behold. A true testament to how impressive cutting edge computing graphics (from 2004) can look. Just be warned that you’ll need to have your shading set to high or very high to see this effect, since it’s only for modern systems that can handle the intense demands of DirectX 9.

Mappers are contacting Valve to see if they can update already-submitted skins, more on that shortly. But for now this update is great news for everybody! Unless you’ve recently showcased weapon skins..

As found on Youtube