I am just starting to get my feet wet in the world of Blender, and I am having trouble accurately deciphering and applying the types of files within my first model.

I have searched the web and a couple videos and websites have helped immensely, but not enough were I can accurately map my available files to the model correctly.

The map files given to me are not defined clearly enough for when and where to apply them onto my model (if at all).

While I understand that every file will not be used simultaneously, a good amount of them should be. However, I can be completely wrong and actually have to ignore even more files than I think.

enter image description here

Of the map files listed within the image, I believe the following files should be combined for the model:

  • Diffuse (known as 'color' in the image)
  • Normal (more than one normal map such as normal, detail, and smooth is causing further confusion)
  • Thickness (perhaps this translates to height?)
  • Specular (known as 'spec' in the image)
  • SSS Strength (subsurface scattering?)

How can I combine each of these maps to produce a great result with great details as well as correctly map eyebrows and eyelashes? Even then, I am still unsure of what many of the files are, and whether I should ignore them or not. Files such as 'trans' eyebrows/lashes, the normal maps for specific parts of the head (left cheek, right cheek, nose etc.), the black mask files with white blurs, 'shadow mask', 'shift mask', and the entirety of the 'wrinkles' folder.

Here is what I currently have. As seen by the node editor, it utilizes the diffuse, normal, and specular maps. I am hoping that other maps can be combined to further detail the model.

enter image description here

Though I am also having issues with the hair and clothing textures, I believe the issues are different enough to be their own questions.

Finally, here are links that were useful to me during my search in mapping this model:


1 Answer 1


You actually can use most of these maps at once! For the purposes of answering your main inquiry, I make the following assumptions, based on what information you've provided: You already have your model UV unwrapped and your desired maps match the appropriate sections. That is, that you have everything you need for your final image, you just don't know what they do or where to plug them in.

The good news is you've already got the basic idea down pat! You just need a little adjustment. With the sole exceptions of your base color and your subsurface color, the image texture setting that says 'color' should be changed to 'noncolor data'. Clicking on the image texture node in question where it says 'color' should give you a dropdown to select this option. Depending on what version of Blender you're using, you might not see much of a difference, but it does help Blender to understand what you want it to do much better. The second thing you need to do is add one more node to your setup. Blender doesn't know exactly where you want the image textures to go, so it's making an educated guess. Sometimes this works out alright, but most times, it's not really what you're looking for. Happily, telling it what you want it to do in this case is very simple. You need to add a Texture Coordinate node. You'll find this in the Input menu. Plug the UV slot into the vector slot of your Image Texture node.

On to explaining your maps! While I'm not 100% certain of all the file formats Blender can use, the general rule of thumb is if it lets you see it in the file selection menu, you can use it. However, if you're getting strange results, you might want to consider making .png or .jpg versions of your map and using those. As most of your slots and maps are labeled, you won't have too much trouble sticking them where they should go, with a few exceptions. Your thickness map should actually go in your transmission slot. This isn't the same as SSS (subsurface scattering), but it's similar in concept; it's telling Blender what parts are the thinnest, and should therefore let more light pass through in those areas. By itself, it's going to make your model see-through, which isn't what you want, but by mixing it with subsurface strength, it will remain solid and only let your subsurface color through instead of whatever's behind Elena. While you can use the thickness map in the subsurface strength slot as well (definitely do this if you're going for a more stylized look), try just playing with the slider, first, since your main magic is happening on the transmission slot. Your specular map is an inverted roughness map. You plug it into the roughness slider, but you're going to have to invert it, first. If you look under the Color section in the add menu, you'll find the invert node. No fiddling required, just hook your map to this node, then from this node to your roughness slot. Bonus: You can add an invert node to any of your black-and-white maps to adjust the strength; all the way to zero will make it the original strength, and sliding it towards one will decrease the effect of the map.

You only need to know one more thing to use all those extra normal maps. Masking. You've already noticed the black-and-white masks labeled as such. These go with the normal maps of a similar name. For example, 'forehead_mask' will be working with 'forehead_normal'. In a nutshell, masks serve as more complicated instructions for mixing. You plug this into the mix factor of a mixShader or mixRGB, and it tells Blender what parts to put different maps, based on how much white is in the image. Using the forehead as an example once more, the parts that are pure black will be completely the first (top slot) map, and all the parts that are pure white will be completely the second map. If I were only working with color or strength maps, I'd use the mixRGB node, and life would be easier. However, since you're mixing normal maps, which are very special snowflakes if you want accurate results, you're going to have to use the mixShader. It's actually not complicated at all, it's just going to make your node tree a little crowded. I'd brush up on grouping nodes for your sanity, but since that's not necessary for function, I won't go into it here (feel free to message me if you want to do this and it's giving you trouble). You will need to make a new principled node setup for every single normal map. You can reuse all the other maps if they don't come with their own. The files seem to be pretty well-organized, so they should have the same name if they do. Once you have all your nodes set up, it's time to mix them. Please remember that order is extremely vital for overlapping parts. I don't know what your wrinkles look like, but if none of them touch each other, you don't have to worry as much. But if they do overlap, you're going to need to work your way from the lowest part to the highest part. In this case, the lowest part of the setup is the first node tree you made for the skin. To elucidate, you want each higher layer to be on the bottom slot of the mixShader; this is the one controlled by the white parts of the maps. To mix, add a mixShader to your node tree. Plug your first principled node set up with the next-highest one. For example's sake, let's say you're adding the left cheek to the base layer. Add your left_cheek_mask map like you would any other map you've done so far, and plug it into the mix slot. Next you're going to add another mixShader and combine this result with the next one higher, in exactly the same way. Repeat this process until you've added everything you care to, then plug the final result into your material output. (The surface slot, in this case.)

From the looks of your maps, your hair, eyebrows/eyelashes, eyeballs, and inner mouth, are all separate objects. This means all you have to do is make sure you click on those pieces and add your materials to them in exactly the same way as you have the skin.

I'm afraid I don't know for certain what the hair shift map is for, without seeing any other attendant hair maps, but if I had to guess, I'd say it plugs into the tangent slot. I think the purpose is to give each hair some slight variety.

The trans maps are alpha maps. (Likely short for 'transparent', given the shape of the eyebrow and eyelash objects.) Invert them like you did with your specular map, and plug them into the transmission slot.

I hope this information helped! Good luck, happy Blending, and feel free to contact me for any reason!


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