We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Bump Mapping?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At EasyTechJunkie, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Bump mapping is a process by which a texture, or texture map, is applied to a surface in a three-dimensional (3D) computer graphics program to create greater detail on that surface. A bump map is typically used to add a greater amount of surface dimensionality and detail, such as bumps, ridges, scratches, and other details that affect the smoothness of a surface. The use of such mapping allows an object created in a computer graphics (CG) program to appear more realistic without increasing the number of polygons in the object. Bump mapping is typically accomplished through the use of traditional bump maps, normal maps, or parallax maps.

When an object is created in a 3D graphics program, it is made using a wireframe to which polygons are applied. This creates the basic shape of the object and provides it with a surface. Complicated objects often have more polygons than simple objects, but higher numbers of polygons often make objects more difficult to render out. This is not always a concern for CG created for movies, but video games that render images in real time often have limitations on the number of polygons that can be rendered in a given scene.

Bump mapping is typically used to allow objects with lower numbers of polygons to appear more realistic. A single surface, for example, can be used to create a brick wall and would have only one polygon. To make the surface appear realistic, each brick would need to stick out slightly further than the mortar between them, and they should have some dents, scratches, and other textures. By using bump mapping, these details can be added without increasing the number of polygons in the scene.

There are three different types of bump mapping that can be used, though they all generally create somewhat similar effects. A basic bump map uses a grayscale image — using only white, gray, and black — to create a map. When this texture is applied as a bump map, the object will appear to have greater texture; white areas will appear raised, while black areas will seem indented. This type of bump mapping does not actually change the surface of the object, only the way in which light and shadow are rendered on that surface to give it the appearance of texture.

A normal map is a type of map used in bump mapping that uses red, blue, and green to create a similar effect. Normal maps are usually created based on a highly detailed version of an object, and then applied to a low detail version of that object to create a more realistic appearance with fewer polygons. Parallax maps can also be used in bump mapping, though these are somewhat more complicated. They basically function by mimicking the parallax effect that occurs when an object is seen from different points of view, to create the illusion of depth for a surface when viewed at an angle.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.