More on Bump Mapping

Bricks with bump mapping in AE

Same Bricks with no bump mapping

Bump Mapping is an effective way to add surface-dimension to still images and textures by allowing light to interact with the contours of the surface. Usually this is done in a 3D program but a similar technique can be imitated in After Effects, as shown in the latest Short_Cuts Tutorial.

The above example shows how bump mapping can have a dramatic effect on a still image, but sometimes a separate bump map is needed to simulate the proper depth. I created a new bump map by manipulating the original image to look like the one on the right. The white area designates “extrusion” while the black stays unchanged.

This new image is then selected by the Glass filter to be used as the “Bump Map” layer. After playing with the settings, the bricks now appears to extrude slightly. The actual settings can be seen by clicking on the screen shot.

QUICK TIP: The bump map doesn’t have to be a descendant of the original image. Think of the possibilities…

Also be sure to play with the material options to mimic the properties of the surface. In this case, dull bricks don’t have as much specular hot spots.

Now if you have already built bump maps to use in your 3D program, then you know how fun it is to make custom bump maps from images. Unfortunately, simply inverting an image is never good enough because the necessary depth information is not always black or white.

9 years ago
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What is this thing! I’ve basically combined a bunch of stuff into one experiment! I might have been inspired by the amazing planet explosions from The Force Awakens but wanted to see if I could get a cool version inside Element 3D. Few Notes on this experiment; I added smoke elements, shockwaves using CC Sphere, and even […]

HUGE difference! So cool! I need to rewatch your Short Cut about this.
9 years ago
Hey ITV teacher,

this tutorial is only on the Creative COW Master Series DVD:
ITV teacher
9 years ago
hello first off thank you for a you do! I am looking for the tutorials that has sam dancing as a silouette. is it still avalible? what is the name? thanks. your stuff has helped me tech my students some great fun stuff. we broadcast a morning news show with k-5......

more info on it here
9 years ago
Totally figured it out! get a Golf Ball bump map

Drag it into it's own comp and apply CC Sphere. Make your light value 0 and your Ambient value (under shading) 100. This gets rid of all shading.

In a new comp (1000 x 500) create an off white solid and apply CC Glass. Drag the bump map comp into your new comp

(turn the eyeball off and put it above your solid) and follow Andrews tutorial (layers don't need to be 3D and use the "Bump Map" layer for the bump map).

Use the Bump Map layer as a track matte to cut out your ball. Tweak all of your lighting and surface properties in CC Glass and animate the ball within the Bump Map precomp using CC Sphere.

Hopefully I included all the details. It's a cool twist on the original tut! Hopefully Andrew has improvements to make it even easier/more functional (Maybe expression controls for animating the ball)!

    5 years ago
    Hey Chris. Thanks for this little tip from years ago. =) I too am trying to make a golf ball for a client's video, and this does everything I need it to do, except that I need it to also have text printed on the ball. I can get it to work so that the text is part of the bump map, which is ok and probably useful, but I also need it to have color like something printed on the ball would be.

    Any thoughts?


9 years ago
Excellent tutorial.

One idea... I think it would help your composite a little more if you faded out the white from the center so the highlight effect fades off at the edges. For this example, the shadows really sell the shot and I think the highlights around the edges are subtracting from the 'realness' of the shot. Does that make sense?

What do you think?
9 years ago
Done that one, but I'll take another look! It's been a while.

Thanks, Chris
9 years ago
Hey Chris,

maybe you should take a look ti the "Blue Planet" Tutorial:

Should help ;-)

A QuadCore takes lot of profit from AE, it can use every single core - damn fast ;-)
9 years ago
I need to create a 3D looking golf ball on the cheap. I'm about to start playing but thought I'd also ask. Will this technique work with CC Sphere applied to the layer?

I plan to make a "golf ball dimple texture" to which I'll apply CC Sphere so I can rotate it. If the Glass effect can provide the same look but on the sphre-ized version of the texture... Wooo Hooo!

I always get confused (fool myself) with AE and it's fake 3D effects.

Any pointers would be great!
9 years ago
heey andrew.

i'm in NY right now, do you have any tips on where to go?
Michiel P
9 years ago
oh well

i only did the blog indeed didnt tot about contact :)

thanks noddy
9 years ago
i just rely on the tutorials man...i can't afford buying
ur products.., money problem...anyway
thanks maaan,.... ur godz gift to mankind.
9 years ago
@Michiel P: You didn't search too hard big fella, explains what he uses...

"What type of computer do you record your tutorials with?
I use a Custom Built Intel Core 2 Duo 6800 Extreme Processor with 2GBs of DDR2 Ram and a Geforce 7950 GX2 as well as a 150GB 10k Raptor Hard Drive. For the early tutorials I used an Athlon X2 4200+ with 2GBs of Ram and Geforce 7800 GT and a 74GB 10k Raptor Drive."

Michiel P
9 years ago
stop joke :/

I try search your blog all over .. nothing about good setup...

tell us your pc :)
9 years ago
Should not the short cuts tutorial come every day????
9 years ago
Very very nice Andrew. Keep the good work.
9 years ago
Pentium 3 for me.
Michiel P
9 years ago
Can any1 tell me what a decent pc setup for …AE cs3

now amd x2 4200 ... 2gb mem ... geforece 6600 ... i cant even do tutorials smooth.. always lots of waiting and errors...

plan to buy

quad core 2.66 ... 3gb mem... quadro fx 1500...

andrew confirm if this can be any good.. i want my Green progress bar!! to be green.!
Michiel P
9 years ago
Can any1 tell me what a decent pc setup for ...
9 years ago
i would like to see a tutorial about animating objects with shapes or another technic like path constrain in after effects...............but thanks for all andrew.
kelvin Mozambique
9 years ago
Nice. The bumpmaplayer it self looks like a highmap, which is used in games.
9 years ago
Ey Andrew! Cool tutorial. This is the first time that I write to you. And I made a silly 5 seconds animation with your tutorial, can watch ir here

Thanks for your tips and the nuew short clips is a really good and usefull idea!
9 years ago
good stuff man. Keep it coming :)
Some Guy
9 years ago
@ Andrew Kramer: Well, it really was a hyperbole. VCP would not be the same without After Effects. What I meant was, that it is great, that the more or less plain world of After Effects is now expanded with a third dimension by VideoCopilot (yes, it is a metaphor ;) ). Since the announcement of the Advanced Training DVD there is a lot of 3D stuff here on the blog (like compositing CG shadows into real footage or talking about Blender or Bump Maps in AE, which I didn't know was possible). I learned so much from your After Effects tutorials, that when I see a cool new effect in a commercial or a movie I am often able to figure out how to do it in AE (maybe not the best way but still it's more than nothing). What I'm trying to say is that with your help I learned to understand AE - I know how things work and what is possible. And now you bring it to the next level by adding 3D to your VFX and GFX, which will open billions of new possibilities.
So, filled with pure excitement I wrote the upper comment, whose intention was simply to thank you for covering "as many pertinent topics as possible".
9 years ago
The light sertanly looks more realistic with this affect but at the same time you take away some of the realistic look of the wall.

The white in between the bricks looks like water and the bricks themself looks abit plastic.

Still a cool effect though :)
Big thanks to VCP from sweden
9 years ago
Awesome Andrew, the bump map gave more detail level in that still.

Thnx gr8 technique. keep them coming - Sandy
James Price
9 years ago
@ Andrew Kramer...I am playing with the caustic plugin at the moment and getting some truly awesome results, will this be covered by you in relation to exploring displacement techniques of layers?...nice bump map tutorial by the way!
9 years ago
not bad = not good !!!
But could be better.
9 years ago
I use this program too, great for making normal maps.
Kim A. Strandli
9 years ago
Hey Andrew, or everybody actually... Just a tip:

If someone need a bump map (or displacement map+++) from a image, and wants to create it in no time, you can check out "Crazy Bump", it's a cool little tool. I have not tested it yet, but it looks awesome!
Check it out here:
Bump maps are not only useful to make depth in such things as a brick wall. But also to create abstract effects ++. Mainly this program is for the use in 3D programs, but I think it would be great for After Effect users too. Just a friendly tip :)
S. Gilbert
9 years ago
Wow this is Cool!!!
9 years ago
Hi there Andrew,

it's hard for me to "think of the possibilities", but if I discover a chance in my projects - I I take it.
It's like the demon-warp. I never could make use of it, but then I had a shot with a girl firing a gun. She wasn't very motived, but I realized this not until I was cutting the footage; but then I used your technique to make her look more fanatic.
It's not only great to learn cool effects, the coolest thing is to learn helpful techniques. Thanks for this - the time, the support, all around VCP.
I'm afraid I stand upon thorns, I can't wait for the Advanced Training DVD!!

9 years ago
Andrew, I'm a little confused.. I watch the latest tutorial and did it step by step. When you say 'Bump Map' is it just added the CC Glass effect and putting the light on it? Is that what creates the 'Bump Map'?
Just Amit
9 years ago
This is really one of those great techniques that makes the difference between good and really good results. Thanks for such a great short-cut. Also looking forward to Advanced Training DVD to get up on my blender skill.
9 years ago
Some Guy: I assume you are making a hyperbole (intentional exaggeration, in which case, well played). 3D is certainly not taking over.

We are simply diversifying our content. Ultimately to make the best use of 3D, it must come into After Effects for finishing and compositing. Likewise to create even more dynamic content, 3D renderings are an important factor as well.

At the moment AE is more or less a 2D compositing program, meanwhile every feature film that comes out has massive 3D animation incorporated, so we want to cover as many pertinent topics as possible. Our goals at VC are in Visual Effects & Motion Graphics. After Effects is at the center and 3D cannot be ignored.

I think we have only begun to scratch the surface at Video Copilot.
Some Guy
9 years ago
I like how 3D is slowly taking over VCP. All the excitement in the community. It's like the time before Christmas. This will be a great month. Thank you VCP crew for that!
9 years ago
Nice AK! I saw you at the AE User Group meeting in new york about a month ago. When your quicktime movie didn't play, some wise ass cracked "well, it's a PC". I am a big PC guy (Macs are overrated, benchmarks are always off (to their advantage), and there is way more open source software for PC's), but do you have some specific reason for using a PC, when so many visual effects users use Macs?
9 years ago
Very nice!!
Morten Enoksen
9 years ago
Neato information:) This will greatly enhance my 3D AE vids ;)
Take it slow Andrew, we are all exited about your new product. Take your time, you don't need to spend the time on tutorials in the meantime :)
9 years ago
Hi!... im from argentina... you are the best teacher in the history of tutorials! I understand all the tutorials in english very weel!!!
You are great! Saludos from argentina!
PD: i can`t wait for buying the T-shirts and make publicity of Video Copilot in my Country!!
tommie12P(Thorsten Miess)
9 years ago
OOooooh! and again that looks nice! Today i just recovered bump maps in blender while modeling a sphere (yes a simple sphere). Blender can look nice!

There are so many possibilities in After Effects and now i learned another one to make awesome looking motion graphics! Thanks again Mr. Kramer!
9 years ago
thanks again!
9 years ago
Well Kim, the answer is perhaps a bit more complex than this suggestion.

Creating bump maps is not a new thing, so you can actually search for tutorials on creating quality bump maps. An although they are specifically for 3D programs, they cover the same things you need to know.
Kim A. Strandli
9 years ago
truly a dramatic effect!
But the problem is to make the bump map.
Is there a good technique to make a bump map of a standard rgb image? Or does it work just as good with a non-black and white image?
Flim by Tim Productions.
9 years ago
6th! Btw andrew you pwn my socks off.
Florian Zeitler
9 years ago
"If i had to guess... i'd say you're a program from the machine world!"
9 years ago
many thanks!
Florian Zeitler
9 years ago
Thank you man!

you're the greatest !
9 years ago
Wow first one :D
Thanks for your exiting tips
9 years ago
you keep coming with more and more stuff man, good job, thanks