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I've been wondering whether it is possible to have fake nuts and bolts using Normal maps.

I know it is possible, but is there a way to just paint bolts wherever I want. I couldn't find any article regarding this.

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This video shows how to sort out normal maps to paint "bump". If you use a an alpha brush/stencil you could paint "bump" bolts etc using texture paint, adding an extra "bump layer" (video etc). If you can find the free IK-brush kit for blender that's free online somewhere, it has bolts/screws heads etc in the brushes. It may be wise to look up "normal map painting with alpha brushes" also.

https://youtu.be/svzKoq3vew0

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    $\begingroup$ you could just model the detail and bake it as a normal map, that could be easier. $\endgroup$ – Millard Feb 17 '20 at 17:59

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