“Frequency domain normal map filtering” by Han, Sun, Ramamoorthi and Grinspun

  • ©Charles Han, Bo Sun, Ravi Ramamoorthi, and Eitan Grinspun




    Frequency domain normal map filtering



    Filtering is critical for representing detail, such as color textures or normal maps, across a variety of scales. While MIP-mapping texture maps is commonplace, accurate normal map filtering remains a challenging problem because of nonlinearities in shading—we cannot simply average nearby surface normals. In this paper, we show analytically that normal map filtering can be formalized as a spherical convolution of the normal distribution function (NDF) and the BRDF, for a large class of common BRDFs such as Lambertian, microfacet and factored measurements. This theoretical result explains many previous filtering techniques as special cases, and leads to a generalization to a broader class of measured and analytic BRDFs. Our practical algorithms leverage a significant body of work that has studied lighting-BRDF convolution. We show how spherical harmonics can be used to filter the NDF for Lambertian and low-frequency specular BRDFs, while spherical von Mises-Fisher distributions can be used for high-frequency materials.


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