Texture maps are commonly referred to as “map”, “skin”, “atlas” or “trim sheet”.

These textures are for the PBR metallic workflow. This texture workflow has replaced the outdated specular workflow. The specular workflow should not be used however when using materials one can still come across this outdated workflow, so it isn’t bad to know how it works, it also is quite easy to convert a specular workflow material to a metallic workflow material.

  • Amazing breakdown of all the map types by Marmoset here
  • Polycount also covers map types here


Base Color Map

Known asColor, Base Color, Albedo, Diffuse
ContainssRGB colors
ControlsAll the base colors
More infoUse multiply and hue / saturation value nodes
Color spacesRGB

Metallic Map

Known asMetallic, Metalness, Metal, Albedo (Metal)
ContainsGray scale
More infoWhite is fully metallic and black isn’t metallic
Color space

Roughness Map

Known asRoughness, Glossy (inverted), Smoothness (inverted), Micro Surface
ContainsGray scale
More infoWhite is rough and black is shiny
Color spaceNon-color

Normal Map

Known asNormal
ContainsVectors and Offsets
ControlsControls the Normals X, Y & Z (vector) values per pixel
More infoAlters the shading and thus can fake detail
Color spaceLinear, Non-color

Ambient Occlusion Map

Known asAO, Ambient Occlusion, Occlusion
ControlsLighting info
More infoUsed in game engines, the AO map can be combined with the albedo map

Opacity Map

Known asOpacity, Alpha, Transparency
ControlsAlpha black is transparent and white is opaque or when the texture has alpha then alpha is transparent and no alpha is opaque.
More info
Color spaceNon-color

Emission Map

Known asEmission, Emissive, Glow, Self-illumination
More info
Color space

Subsurface Scattering Map

Known asSubsurface Scattering, SSS, Blood map, Vein map
More infoSubsurface Scattering maps fake the behavior of light bounce inside a semitranslucent surface, such as skin or wax.
Color space

Subdermal Map

Known asSubdermal, Blood map, Vein map, Skin shaders
More infoSubdermal maps are used in skin shaders, representing the layer underneath skin: fatty tissue, blood tone and blood vessels.
Color space

Utility Maps


Known asMask, Control map, Utility map
Containsgrayscale or only black and white (Depending on the purpose)
ControlsIt has no set purpose, can control anything
More infoIt can be used for many things like for example and alpha map with only a black and white state that decides if something is rendered, or for tattoos/body paint.
Color spaceNon-color

Color ID

Known asColor ID, Object ID, Material ID, ID




Unused Maps

Diffuse Map

Known asDiffuse, Diffuse Albedo
ControlsAll base colors and shading
More infoOutdated map, was split into Albedo map and ambient occlusion map


|More info|Outdated map, was used with the specular workflow, which has been retired by the metallic workflow

Bump Map

Known asHeight, Displacement, Bump
ContainsGray scale
ControlsHigh and low points of geometry(white high, black low)
More infoHas 3 workflows. Bump Normal, Bump Sub D, Bump displacement.

Bump Normal: Best performance but flat

Bump Sub D: Worse performance alters geo

Bump displacement: Alters geo looks best but terrible render times. Can be combined with normal map. Only use when making displacement through mixing noise.

You should only ever use bump maps if you are using pre-made textures which are bump.

Video on the 3 bump methods: https://youtu.be/_dU3DONwSzU

🚧Work in Progress🚧

The making of texture maps

Res: 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192

  • Painting: Substance Painter, Quixel Mixer, Marmoset Toolbag, 3D Coat, PS/CSP/…, Blender texture painting
  • Procedural: Substance Designer, Blender nodes, Material Maker
  • Other: Materialize, Marmoset Toolbag

Making Base Color Map using a photography

The color map should not contain any shadows or ambient occlusion. Every photograph contains this, so the first step is to remove them.


Left Bad | Right Good

Removal method 1

  • Make an inverted Luminance Map of the Image, Desaturate it and invert it.
  • Clone the layer and use the “Soft Light” blend mode on that layer.

Removal method 2

Making Base Color Map

  • Chose a resolution (That has a factor of 2: 1, 2, 4,…)
  • UV unwrap the object