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Texture mapping refers to a graphic design procedure that involves a “texture map” (a 2-D surface) that is “wrapped around” a 3-D object. In this way, a three-dimensional object attains a surface texture that is similar to the surface texture of a two-dimensional surface. It is the digital equivalent of applying wallpaper, painting or covering any surface.
Texture mapping is used for adding detail and texture (in the form of a bitmap image) to a 3-D object or color to a graphical 3-D model. Edwin Catmull in 1974 first used texture mapping on computer-generated graffiti. This method essentially mapped and merged pixels on a 3-D surface. This technique is now known as diffuse mapping to distinguish it from other types of mapping techniques.
The advancements in computerized mapping techniques such as height mapping, bump mapping, normal mapping, displacement mapping, reflection mapping, mipmaps and occlusion mapping have made it easier to give a realistic look to computer-generated 3-D graphics.