Building Character, Wrinkle by Wrinkle, in a 3-D World

May 13, 2004 | Source: New York Times

A 3-D graphics technique called normal mapping (aka polybump mapping) permits game designers to first create a richly detailed model, such as wrinkled clothing, by using millions of polygons. Then special software is used to map the rich detail onto the same object in a model made with far fewer polygons.

The result is a realistic-looking object that, because it is made up of few polygons, does not require much computer power to manipulate.

These models are also encoded with “specular” information about reflectivity and color, making objects look even more realistic.

The overall result is a video game that comes close to matching the movie in realism.