Our creative lives can be hell sometimes, especially when you are just starting out. You simply don't know what you don't know, which makes things terribly difficult and frustrating! I want to share a couple of software products with you in hopes they may make your creative life easier. Another reason is I wish someone that shown me these products long ago to help my creative life be easier!  

While I believe you can make create specific maps, such as normal, displacement, and specular maps, I do know you can create AO maps for your creations in Blender; however, the knowledge is beyond me at this point in my Blender learning journey.  Yet, I do know using these varying maps are something that will enhance my creations; thus, I don't want my lack of knowledge to keep me from creating good builds.  

You can also create bump and normals maps in Photoshop I believe beginning with the 2014 release.  Photoshop has come quite a long way with their 3D stuff since it was first introduced but, I don't feel like it is very user friendly. Plus, you are limited to those two maps and I am not sure it does the best job at this point in my knowledge of 3D modeling.  So, I found a couple of software products to use to make my life easier.


I been futzing around with creating my own textures for several years and have always been terribly frustrated when it comes to trying to make them seamless or tileable textures.  The first product I want to introduce you to is called Pix Plant.   Not only does PixPlant assist you in converting your textures into tileable seamless textures, it allows you to extract those textures into various 3D maps. 

Screenshot of PIXPLANT website

While nothing is 100%, I have found that PixPlant does a fairly decent job of converting your textures to seamless ones with little fuss and in a very short amount of time.  Yes, you may need to do some post work, but it really is worth the time saving you receive from this product over the often frustrating job of trying to make seamless textures.  You can use PixPlant within Photoshop, as an add-on of sorts, or, you can use it as a stand alone application.  

Personally, I use PixPlant as a stand alone application because I couldn't get it to work within the CS6 version of Photoshop I had.  I am not the most technical person so I am sure there is a way to get it to work but, for me, it works just as well running it as a separate program.  Also, I haven't even tried to see if it will work with the web based version of Photoshop since I like how nicely the software works by itself.

Be aware this is a purchased product!  It looks like the price has come down from when I bought it a year or so ago to now.  The Freelance (single user license) was $79.00 but, as of today's writing, it is currently priced at $49.00, which makes it very affordable for the beginning or serious hobbyist.

PixPlant does feature a "seed" library of downloadable textures to get help you get started with the product.  However, PLEASE be sure to read the PixPlant license agreement at the bottom of the "seed" library page before you download any textures.  Also, it doesn't appear that all the textures are property of PixPlant, so you will also need to read any licensing of the specific images want to download.  Along with "seed" library, there are a few short tutorials how to use the product even though the software is pretty simple to use.

Now that I am learning Blender more in depth, I am able to utilize the 3D map extraction feature, which at the time, was just an extra of sorts.  You can create diffuse, displacement, normal, specular and AO maps from your textures you create or, you if you are utilizing textures from other sources.  

You can download a trial of PixPlant from their website PixPlant and try it for yourself. 


Another product that might interest you for making diffuse, displacement, normal, specular and AO maps is called Crazybump and you can find it for both Mac and Windows at Crazybump.com.

Screenshot of Crazybump website

Unlike PixPlant, there is very little information on the Crazybump website.  There is a single no voice video you can watch but is not very adequate.  The good news, you can check out YouTube and watch a few videos on how to use Crazybump.  You can download a trial of the product and start using it right away.  I do think that Crazybump does a better job at creating depth in the various maps, which I am sure there is a technical reason for that I probably don't even want to know!  You can purchase a personal license for about $99.00 USD. Again, it is a very user friendly product albeit,

I am sure there are other great software applications out there that will do similar tasks as the two mentioned above; however, I find both PixPlant and Crazybump very user friendly for the Mac, which is not often the case with many programs with a Windows equivalent. I suggest you download the trials for each and test them for yourself to see what meets your needs and your pocketbook.

Happy Creating Everyone!



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