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Example of an heightmap file.

A heightmap is a grayscale texture where the brightness of each pixel represents its height (relative to its surface).

Older game engines use these textures for a shader method known as bump mapping, as they are the predecessors to the normal maps that the Source engine use for this method.

Features for its use is parallax mapping and creation of Self-Shadowing Bump Maps.

Steps to creating a heightmap

  1. Create a copy of a texture in grayscale and edit it if you wish. White corresponds to the pixels closest to you and black corresponds to pixels farthest from you.
  2. Save the image as a targa (.tga) with _height at the end of the filename.
  3. Convert the targa image to a Valve Texture File (.vtf).
  4. Put it in the same directory as your texture.

See Also