This tutorial will show you how to create textures with a 3d-application. I'm going to use Lightwave, but you should be able to use any 3D-package to create high-resolution textures.
First of I'd like to explain that I'm currently sick so I couldn't go out and get any reference photographs to base my work on, nor do I have any time to draw them myself. So I borrowed a texture from Quake 3 (just to do outlines, and NO it's not cheating to draw of an image, it saves a lot of time + many pro-modelers do this).
Lets start by adding a texture to the window in which you are currently working in
The next step is to choose the pen tool and start to outline all of the content in the image. It should look like this.
Next step is to use the extrude-tool to get some depth in the mesh. Once this is done we can start manipulating the vertices, making the mesh look more realistic. You should now have a mesh similar to this one.
Once this was done I used a tool called spikey-tool on the front surface. This would make the front surface look like a triangle fan. Next step is to use triple on the entire mesh followed by subdivide->metaform. this step does a lot to the mesh since it makes it look so more realistic, normally I would pay a mesh a lot more attention than this and make things more detailed.
I added a flat surface in the middle of this mesh, something that you don't see in this picture, but believe me it's there (and it needs to be there as well, otherwise there would be a lot of hovering blocks :) )
Next step is to add a texture to it all and render it with no lights or shadows. In my case I added a procedural texture (I wont deal with texturing in this tutorial since texturing is a wide subject and is probably different from 3D-package to 3D-package.) After I've rendered it and manipulated the image, so that would look okay if I had tiled the texture over a surface. Save the file as "bricksHigh.xxx".
Now we can start creating our normal map, it's easy I promise. I used a program called ORB, since that Is the only program I can run. all the other programs needed pixel shader 2.0.
First up we have to create a lowpoly mesh of the one we just created. but this should be easy since all we need is a texture. Therefore we remove everything except one surface (the one I added in the middle of the mesh) and resave it as "bricksLow.xxx".
Now we got two meshes and should be ready to start ORB. I created .cfg file in which I put this text.
ImportModel imports/bricksHigh.lwo imports/brickLow.lwo Renderbump exports/bricks
Now it will create a normal map for you. Extracted form the high resolution model.
Unfortunately I can't give you a link to ORBs homepage since it seem to be down. But you should be able to find it elsewhere on the Internet since the program is free.
The complete work looks like this
With a little more time and patience, this could look a lot better. If you think that my grammar or description of how to do things is unclear, don't hesitate to change or at least notify me so that I can change it.
I hope this satisfies your needs.