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Typical PBR Maps (Overview)

Here is a short explanation outlining the function of the different material maps included in the materials on ambientCG (and many other websites).


image-1653124259459.jpgThe general color map of the material. Some programs also call it “Albedo”, “Diffuse”, or “Base Color”.


manholecover04_disp.jpgIt defines the height/displacement of the material. Using this in combination with very-high-poly geometry allows for more detailed surfaces.


manholecover04_nrm.jpgThe normal map defines the normal vector of the surface at a given point. It can be used to simulate intricate surface detail without adding any more geometry.

Different tools require slightly different versions of the normal map due to two different implementations in the two graphics libraries OpenGL and DirectX.

Downloads from ambientCG always include a _NormalGL (OpenGL-Style) and _NormalDX (DirectX-Style) file. You can simply try out both versions in your software and check whether the surface responds correctly to light from all angles or look up/ask the vendor's support about the normal format to use.

Below is a table for some common tools:

Blender OpenGL (_NormalGL)
Unity OpenGL (_NormalGL)
Unreal Engine DirectX (_NormalDX)
Adobe Substance 3D Products DirectX (_NormalDX) by default, can be changed in settings.

Ambient Occlusion

manholecover04_ao.jpgAmbient occlusion serves to fake the tiny, soft shadows that the material is throwing onto itself. This causes crevices to be a little bit darker. The ambient occlusion map simply gets multiplied with the color map. Therefore the dark parts of the map also darken the final color map while the white parts leave it untouched.


manholecover04_rgh.jpgThis map describes the roughness of the material. If this image is closer to black that means that the material appears to be very shiny. Consequently an almost white image means that the material has a very diffuse look.


manholecover04_mask.jpgA black and white map to define the opacity of the material. White parts remain visible, darker parts become transparent.


manholecover04_met.jpgDefines whether a part of the surface is metallic or dielectric. This changes the way light is reflected and is important for achieving realistic results.


This map defines the light that a material emits. For most materials this map is just black or not even there.