Textures and effects

The Change textures and effect dialog is the heart of the app. In this dialog you tell BluffTitler which textures and effect must be used to bring the active layer to life.

What does this dialog set?

The dialog has lots of GUI elements, but only sets 5 things:

  • 4 textures
  • 1 effect

All are optional. It's perfectly OK for a layer to use no textures and no effect.

How can I display this dialog?

To make sure you do not miss this super important dialog, it can be displayed in 6 different ways:

  • Click on the Change texture button
  • Click on the Change effect button
  • Choose MEDIA > Change texture
  • Choose MEDIA > Change effect
  • Press <F8>
  • Press <F9>

All layers checkbox

When the All layers checkbox on the tool window is marked, the textures and effect of all layers of the same layer type as the active layer are set.

When you hold down the <Ctrl> key when clicking on the OK button, only the textures and effect of the other layers are set that are changed in the active layer.

Table of contents

Textures

What is a texture?

A texture is a picture pasted onto a 3D model.


How do I apply a texture to the active layer?

Click on the Change texture button, choose MEDIA > Change texture or press <F8>.

Texture sources

BluffTitler can use the following sources as a texture:

  • A static picture (JPG, PNG, BMP, TGA,...): click on the Select texture... button.
  • An (animated) GIF: click on the Select texture... button.
  • A video (WMV, AVI, MPEG, FLV, MOV,...): click on the Select texture... button.
  • A colour map generated by a colour map layer: click on the Select colour map... button.
  • A cube map generated by a cube map layer: click on the Select cube map... button.
  • The glow map: enter glowmap as the path.

Download and stream from the internet

Textures can be downloaded from the internet by entering an URL starting with https://. For example:

https://www.outerspace-software.com/images/blufftitler/blufftitler.png

Videos are streamed when you mark the Stream video and audio streams from the internet checkbox in the Internet options tab of the SETTINGS > Options... dialog.

Picture codecs

BluffTitler uses Windows Imaging Component (WIC) to import and export picture files. This means that BluffTitler can use any picture format if there's a compatible WIC codec installed.

By default, Windows comes with codecs for the JPEG, TIFF, GIF, PNG and BMP formats. For other formats you might have to install a new codec.

FastPictureViewer Codec Pack

FastPictureViewer Codec Pack offers a huge collection of picture codecs. With this pack, BluffTitler can import EXR and HDR files.

Microsoft Camera Codec Pack

The Microsoft Camera Codec Pack offers a huge collection of camera specific (RAW) file formats.

Inspect picture codecs

Choose the WIC tab in the <Ctrl><F1> dialog for a list of all WIC codecs installed on your system.

Video decoding

Video decoding is used when you play a compressed video file inside BluffTitler, for example with a video layer.

Display this dialog by choosing SETTINGS > Options... and selecting its Drivers tab.

BluffTitler uses DirectShow to play video and audio files. This means that BluffTitler can use any video and audio format if there's a compatible DirectShow decoder filter (also called a codec or a source filter) installed. By default, Windows comes with codecs for the WMV, AVI and MP3 formats. For others you might have to install a new codec.

K-Lite Codec Pack

K-Lite Codec Pack offers a huge collection of DirectShow decoder filters. With this codec pack, BluffTitler can play MP4, WebM, MOV, M4A and OPUS files.

Fixing codec conflicts

You can force BluffTitler to use a specific codec for a specific file extension. For example, select the LAV Video Decoder codec for the MP4 format.

For video files you can define 2 codecs: one for the video and one for the audio stream. For example, select both the LAV Video Decoder and LAV Audio Decoder codecs for the MP4 format.

Video encoding

Video encoding is used when you export a show as a compressed video file with the menu item FILE > Export as video...

Display this dialog by choosing SETTINGS > Options... and selecting its Drivers tab.

External encoder

BluffTitler supports the following external video encoders:

FFmpeg

If the FFmpeg encoder is selected, it is used to export as MP4. It works on Windows 7 and has no problems with 4K.

FFmpeg also adds the following features:

  • Export as WebM, WMV, QuickTime MOV and Animated GIF is enabled in the FILE > Export as video... dialog
  • Video thumbnails are rendered in the MEDIA > Change texture... and EDIT > Change all textures... dialogs
  • Recognition of the alpha channel of QuickTime MOVs by the video layer

To install FFmpeg:

  • Visit ffmpeg.org
  • Click on the Download button
  • Click on the Windows logo
  • Click on a Windows builds location under the Windows EXE Files section
  • Download one of the Release essentials, in .ZIP or .7z format
  • Unpack the .ZIP or .7z file. Use WinZip to unpack .7z
  • Move the unpacked folder to the C:\Program Files\ folder
  • Start BluffTitler, choose SETTINGS > Options... and select the Drivers tab
  • Select C:\Program Files\ffmpeg-x.x.x-win64-static\bin\ffmpeg.exe as the External encoder

Other external encoders

Support for more external encoders is in preparation. Do not hesitate to contact us for requests.

Effects

What is an effect?

An effect tells BluffTitler how to render the layer using the textures. BluffTitler effects are stored in files with the extension CFX, which stands for compiled effect. The installer comes with about 200 effects that can be found in the BluffTitler/Media/Effects folder.


How do I apply an effect to the active layer?

Click on the Change effect button, choose MEDIA > Change effect or press <F9>.

Effects, shaders & FX

Effects contain vertex, pixel and other shader types. Shaders are small apps that run on your graphics card. For this reason effects are also called shaders. And effect(s) is sometimes written as FX.

Effects and textures

Effects work in close cooperation with textures. For example the Reflectionmap effect requires a reflection map. This is the reason why the textures and the effect are set in the same dialog.

FX properties

Some effects add new properties to a layer. Effect properties can be recognised by the FX prefix. For example the Reflectionmap effect adds the FX Lighting factor property to your layer.

Techniques

Effects can perform many rendering techniques. The most important are:

Post-processing

When you apply an effect to the camera layer, the render output is used as the 1st texture. This way the effect can be used as a post-processing effect.

Effects specifically designed for use in the camera layer can be found in the Effects/Camera folder.

The effects in the Effects/Filters folder also work great applied to the camera layer.

Texture mapping techniques

No map

It is important to realize that it is not always necessary to use a texture. Many effects work perfectly without a texture.

A 3D text without a texture looks like this. The effect used is Lightened.


The NotLightened effect turns off all lighting. It is very useful for background pictures.


Colour map

What is a colour map?

Colour mapping is the most basic type of texture mapping. The picture is simply pasted on the 3D model without adjustments.

This is how a colour map looks like in a paint app.


This is how the same colour map looks like pasted on a text. The effect used is Lightened.


What are other names for a colour map?

A colour map is also called a diffuse map, a picture map or simply a texture map

How do I create a colour map?

Use your camera or your paint app like Photoshop or PaintShop.

Tools to generate colour maps are Filter Forge, Substance, Genetica, Materialize and PixPlant.

Colour map layer

Next to loading colour maps from files, BluffTitler can also use colour maps generated by the colour map layer. Learn more

Which effects support colour mapping?

Some of the effects that use a colour map are:

  • Lightened
  • NotLightened
  • NotLightened_Additive

Reflection map

What is a reflection map?

Reflection mapping is a trick to create reflections. Instead of computing the real reflections, which is very slow, the reflections are taken from a picture that contains the reflections in all directions.

A correct reflection map (sphere map) looks like this.


In practice, pictures like this are used as reflection maps. This picture is not a correct sphere map, but is much easier to create and produces great results. Don't be afraid to use ordinary pictures and photos as reflection maps.


Applied as a reflection map, the result looks like this. The effect used is Reflectionmap.


What are other names for a reflection map?

Reflection mapping and environment mapping are general names for all techniques storing the reflections in a texture. The technical term for what BluffTitler calls a reflection map is a sphere map.

How do I create a reflection map?

You can use Bixorama to convert 360° photos in various formats to reflection maps.

Normal pictures and photos work surprisingly well as reflectionsmaps so don't be afraid of experimenting. When using normal photos don't forget to unmark the Try to keep textures and effect matched checkbox to turn off the associations.

Which effects support reflection mapping?

Some of the effects that use a reflection map are:

  • Reflectionmap
  • AdvancedMaterials/ColourmapReflectionmap
  • AdvancedMaterials/Reflectionmap_Additive

Cube map

What is a cube map?

Cube mapping does the same as reflection mapping, only in a better quality. A cube map contains 6 squares, representing the 6 faces of a cube. BluffTitler accepts cube maps in the DDS format.

A cube map contains the 6 faces of a cube.

The texture used is Textures/CubeMap.dds.


This is how this cube map looks like rendered on a text. The effect used is Cubemap.


The fun starts when you apply cube maps to 3D models!


How do I create a cube map?

You can use Bixorama to convert 360° photos in various formats to the DDS format for use in BluffTitler.

Cube map layer

Next to loading cube maps from DDS files, BluffTitler can also use cube maps generated by the cube map layer. In this screenshot you can see a text, a model and a mirror layer being reflected into a sphere. Learn more


Which effects support cube mapping?

Some of the effects that use a cube map are:

  • Cubemap
  • AdvancedMaterials/Cubemap_Additive
  • AdvancedMaterials/ColourmapCubemap

Normal map

What is a normal map?

A normal map contains the surface normals (vectors perpendicular to the surface). It is used to simulate bumps. The normals are encoded in the red, green and blue colour components. The neutral value is (128, 128, 255), or alternatively a transparent pixel.

A normal map looks like this.

The texture used is Textures/Pebbles_Normalmap.png.


This is how this normal map looks like rendered on a text. The effect used is Normalmap.


The fun starts when you combine normal mapping with colour and cube mapping. This text has been rendered with the AdvancedMaterials/ColourmapNormalmapCubemap effect.

Learn more


What are other names for a normal map?

Normal mapping is sometimes called bump mapping. This is confusing because displacement mapping is also sometimes called bump mapping.

How do I create a normal map?

Our favorite tools are Filter Forge, Substance, Genetica, Materialize and PixPlant. NVIDIA offers a Photoshop plugin to create normal maps.

Which effects support normal mapping?

Some of the effects that use a normal map are:

  • Normalmap
  • AdvancedMaterials/ColourmapNormalmapReflectionmap
  • AdvancedMaterials/ColourmapNormalmapCubemap

Displacement map

What is a displacement map?

A displacement map is a greyscale picture describing the heights of the surface. Black is low and white is high. In contrast to normal mapping that simulates bumps by changing the lighting, displacement mapping also changes the geometry of the surface. This is more expensive, but gives a more realistic result.

A displacement map looks like this.

The texture used is Textures/Pebbles_Displacementmap.png.


This is how this displacement map looks like rendered on a text. The effect used is Displacementmap.

Compare this picture with the normal map.


The fun starts when you combine displacement mapping with colour and cube mapping. This text has been rendered with the AdvancedMaterials/ColourmapDisplacementmapCubemap effect.

Learn more


What are other names for a displacement map?

A displacement map is also called a height map, height field, relief map or bump map. This is confusing because normal mapping is also sometimes called bump mapping.

How do I create a displacement map?

Our favorite tools are Filter Forge, Substance, Materialize and PixPlant.

HDR

To prevent the terracing effect when rendering landscapes with height maps, make sure your height map is in a HDR format.

Which effects support displacement mapping?

Some of the effects that use a displacement map are:

  • Displacementmap
  • AdvancedMaterials/ColourmapDisplacementmapReflectionmap
  • AdvancedMaterials/ColourmapDisplacementmapCubemap

Occlusion roughness metallic (ORM) map

What is an occlusion roughness metallic map?

An occlusion roughness metallic map is a composite texture, describing an advanced material. It's an important part of physically based rendering (PBR).

It's 3 textures in one:


1) Occlusion map

The red channel contains the ambient occlusion map. This controls indirect lighting.

2) Roughness map

The green channel contains the roughness map. This sets the roughness of the material. 0 means smooth/glossy and 255 means rough. The current version of BluffTitler does not use this info, but instead allows you to control the specularity with the Specularity property.

3) Metallic map

The blue channel contains the metallic map. This sets the metalness of the material. 0 means non-metal, 255 means metal. BluffTitler uses this info to adjust the visibility of the reflection and cube maps.

Which effects use occlusion roughness metallic mapping?

  • AdvancedMaterials/ColourmapNormalmapCubemap
  • AdvancedMaterials/ColourmapNormalmapReflectionmap

Use the FX Ambient occlusion factor property to control the occlusion.

Place a cubemap, like for example Textures/CubeMap.dds from the installer, in the 3rd texture slot to make maximum use of the metallic map.

How do I create an occlusion roughness metallic map?

Because it's 3 textures in one, it's difficult edit occlusion roughness metallic maps. They are mostly generated ("baked") by 3D modelling tools when exporting as a GLB file. When BluffTitler loads such a model, it automatically loads it in the 4th texture slot and selects the AdvancedMaterials/ColourmapNormalmapCubemap effect. Learn more

Cartoon map

What is a cartoon map?

A cartoon map contains a horizontal gradient used for custom lighting. It is called a cartoon map because an old hand drawn cartoon can be imitated by using a gradient with only a few colours.

A cartoon map looks like this.


This is how this cartoon map looks like rendered on a text. The effect used is Cartoonmap.


What are other names for a cartoon map?

A cartoon map is also called a toon map.

How do I create a cartoon map?

Cartoon maps can easily be created in Photoshop with the gradient tool.

Which effects use cartoon mapping?

Some of the effects that use a cartoon map are:

  • Cartoonmap
  • Text/RainbowText

Alpha map

What is an alpha map?

An alpha map is a greyscale picture describing the alpha channel (transparency) of the surface. Black is fully transparent and white fully opaque.

An alpha map looks like this.


The AdvancedMaterials/Alphamap effect uses an alpha map to change the alpha channel of a picture.


What are other names for an alpha map?

Alpha mapping is also called Transparencymapping or Opacitymapping.

How do I create an alpha map?

Alpha maps can be created in any paint app.

Which effects use alpha mapping?

Some of the effects that use an alpha map are:

  • AdvancedMaterials/Alphamap

Other uses of the alpha map

Next to describing the alpha channel, greyscale pictures can be used for many other things. Here are some examples:

The Camera/CameraBloom effect uses an alpha map to set the amount of bloom.

The Filters/Blur effect uses an alpha map to set the amount of blur.

The Filters/GradientWipe effect uses an alpha map to describe the transition effect.

The AdvancedMaterials/ColourmapCubemap and AdvancedMaterials/ColourmapReflectionmap effects use an alpha map to control the reflection factor. This is sometimes called a specular map.

Fur map

What is a fur map?

A fur map is used to simulate hairy surfaces. A transparent pixel means no hair, and an opaque pixel a hair.

A fur map looks like this.

The texture used is Textures/Fur.png.


This is how this fur map looks like rendered on a text.

The effect used is AdvancedMaterials/Fur.


The fun starts when you combine fur mapping with colour mapping. In this example a tiger texture is used.

The effect used is AdvancedMaterials/Fur.


How do I create a fur map?

Use your favorite paint app.

Which effects support fur mapping?

Some of the effects that use a fur map are:

  • AdvancedMaterials/Fur

Tonal art map

What is a tonal art map?

A tonal art map is used to imitate hatching. Instead of rendering a texture darker, tonal art mapping renders more lines or dots. This gives the impression that it is pencil drawn.

A tonal art map looks like this.


Using this texture with the Advancedmaterials/Tonalartmap effect produces this result. Notice that the darker parts are darker not because the lines are rendered darker, but because more lines are rendered.


What are other names for a tonal art map?

tonal art mapping is also called realtime hatching or abbreviated toTAM.

How do I create an tonal art map?

There are no paint apps that can generate tonal art maps. They have to be created with a custom script.

Which effects use tonal art mapping?

Some of the effects that use a tonal art map are:

  • Advancedmaterials/Tonalartmap
  • Advancedmaterials/ColourmapTonalartmap

Voxel map

What is an voxel map?

A voxel map is a 3D texture containing tissue density and normal information. It is mostly used to visualise medical datasets. Only the Voxel layer can render voxel maps.

BluffTitler accepts voxel maps in the DDS format.

This is a voxel map generated by a CT scan of a molar (tooth).

The effect used is Voxel/VoxelLightened.


Voxel maps can also be mathematically generated in realtime by an effect.

This way you do not need a DDS file. This example uses the Voxel/VoxelGoursatSurface effect.


What are other names of a voxel map?

Voxel maps are also called cube models or simply 3D data sets

How do I create a voxel map?

Voxel maps are mostly generated by customized scripts for specific projects. Outerspace Software does not offer a tool to create voxel maps.

Which effects use voxel mapping?

You can find the voxel mapping effects in the Voxel folder.

Associations

Effects work in close cooperation with textures. For example the Reflectionmap effect requires a reflection map.

For convenience BluffTitler associates texture filenames with effects.

For example if you load a texture containing the word reflection (as in ReflectionMap_Silver.jpg), BluffTitler automatically loads the Reflectionmap effect.

Part of the texture filenameAssociated effect
colourmap or diffusemapLightened
reflection or spheremapReflectionmap
cube and .ddsCubemap
normalNormalmap
displacement, heightmap or bumpDisplacementmap
cartoon or gradientCartoonmap
tonalart or hatchingAdvancedMaterials/Tonalartmap

You can turn this system off by unmarking the Try to keep textures and effect matched checkbox.

Default textures

When you select a new effect, the default textures are selected in the 3 texture slots. For example when you select the Reflectionmap effect, the 1st texture is set to ReflectionMap_Silver.jpg because the effect wants a reflection map in the 1st texture slot and this is the default reflection map.

Use your own default textures

You can set the default textures in the Textures tab of the SETTINGS > Options dialog.

You can turn off this system by unmarking the Try to keep textures and effect matched checkbox.

Multitexturing

Some effects use 2 or even 3 textures. This is called multitexturing.

For example the AdvancedMaterials/ColourmapDisplacementmapCubemap effect combines colour mapping with displacement mapping and cube mapping.

You do not have to use all supported textures. Effects are smart enough to turn off a part of the effect if the required texture is missing.

Blending techniques

BluffTitler effects support the following blending techniques:

Alpha blending

With alpha blending, your texture needs an alpha channel. This is the default blending mode supported by most effects.


Additive blending

With additive blending, the colour of your layer is added to the colour of the background. This way, black is transparent and brighter colours are rendered with extra brightness. This works great with particles.

The effect used in this example is NotLightened_Additive.

The Flare effect also renders your layer with additive blending. It offers a few extra FX properties.


Subtractive blending

With subtractive blending, the colour of your layer is subtracted from the background. This way, black is transparent and brighter colours make the background darker.

The effect used in this example is NotLightened_Subtractive.