Defining some terms might be in order.
A specular map determines where the bright reflective highlights on your object occur, as well as what color they are. Metallic objects have highlights that are the same color as the object. Most other substances have white highlights. The specular pass is usually added or screened onto the diffuse pass, so in order to achieve white highlights, you must usually make a specular map that has colors that are complementary to your diffuse (color) map. In Photoshop, you should invert the image (Ctrl+I) to get your starting point. From there, modify the image such that areas of the texture that should be matte (non-reflective) are very dark, and areas that should be shiny are bright.
A normal map instructs the renderer to create simulated lighting on a surface and allows you to add apparent detail without additional geometry. It's similar to a bump map, but instead of just indicating variations in surface height, it actually dictates the angle of a pixel with respect to the geometry's normal (a normal being a line perpendicular to the surface). Not many people paint normal maps by hand or in Photoshop. They are usually created with 3d sculpting software such as ZBrush or Mudbox. I think that Modo has a sculpting mode built-in, but I don't know how it works.
Anyway, as regards your corrupted file, you've now learned one of the great important lessons in 3d: File versioning. Save new versions frequently, so you can backtrack if an approach isn't working or save yourself if something gets corrupted. I usually have 30 - 50 scene files by the time I'm done modeling something in Maya. If you need to save disk space, you can delete the excess at the end once you're satisfied with your results.
Any chance you might share the geometry itself in .obj format? Does the trial version of Modo even allow that?
Btw, if you're not opposed to trying a different piece of software, SideFX offers a free learning edition of Houdini that watermarks the renders, and a non-commercial but non-watermarked version for only US$100. Houdini is often used in the film vfx industry for its superb dynamics and simulation capabilities, but it's also a solid modeling and rendering package. I've been learning it slowly, myself, although I still use Maya for my projects.
Good Lord ! Midgardsormr thanks for this great piece of info :) I like to learn enything new about 3d, but at first i have to improve my modeling skills bcause sometimes i have real problems and I waste few hours for that what probably can be done at few minutes. Here are obj files for tower and windmill Attachment 36075
We've got more than just map dudes here at the guild - between all of us we probably know most of everything worth knowing. We're our own wikipedia. Great info Midi.
"Roadkill" is a free, simple, UV unwrapper. "Headus UV (v2)" is a much more robust one, but does have a price tag of $200 for 'hobbyist' level and $300 for professional.
Here's a link to Roadkill: http://www.pullin-shapes.co.uk/page8.htm
Thanks! Both for the geometry and the utility. Looks like the tower might be corrupted; it doesn't open in Maya, but it does in Blender. The Windmill opens in both.
I should add something about normal maps. They're typically used when you need to be able to render very fast. So video games use them more than visual effects or still art. If a few minutes of render time is not an issue, it's usually better to go ahead and use the high resolution mesh rather than extract a normal map to be applied to the low res model. Unless, of course, your modeler crashes under the strain of a million polygons, as happened when I was trying (unsuccessfully) to model brain tissue.
I'v tried to build tower from single stones :D After few hundred my mac said - "Stop you supid bastard! and restarted modo without saving :/" So I decided to make simple model. The first ide of creation was to make some models that could be used on your maps, so there is no need to make high detailed model because in final work on map the tower or the mill will be no bigger than 1-2cm i think :) anyway you are great people with your knowledge and help. Thanks to you i want to learn more and more about 3d modeling and texturing :)
Haha. I did the same thing starting out (it was a brick brewhouse and Maya crashed after I had 1/2 of the facade done and tried to mirror it to the other half).
Your models have just the right level of detail to add in those super-fine details with normal-map tricks. The fact that you have detail poly meshes around certain areas of high interest (the door & the windows have individually modeled bricks near them) shows some really good instincts as a modeler. (Also very useful as in an in-game situation, those are the parts the player would be approaching, and a simple normal map would break down).
As a Lighting & Environment artist, those are the type of assets I like.
Here's a tip: don't make each stair the same width if the texture you're using on the model shows unevenly interlocking stone. That will help break some of the 'unnaturally straight' lines that the eye gets drawn to.
I am veeeery very new to 3d work, but I'd love to make a recommendation. If you haven't heard of Genetica, I would really recommend you check it out. It is a texture program that generates nice seamless textures either from images (I think they call it synthesis) or through various effects maps, and it comes with oodles of presets. I think they even have a free version where you have access to a nice portion of their library, though most of the neat features are disabled. It generates some different masks and maps too, which I imagine would aid one in knocking out different maps. Here is an example of a floor texture it just kicked out for me, along with a height map/mask it spit out.
I mostly use it to get nice seamless textures and patterns for photoshop, but I think it is designed for 3D guys.