Bump Mapping

What Does Bump Mapping Mean?

Bump mapping is a 3-D graphics simulation technique that uses object lighting calculations to alter texture map surface bumps without additional polygons. Bump mapping is an extension of Phong shading and the Phong reflection model.


Bump mapping is used by multiple programs and applications, including gaming, astrophysics, architecture, biology, chemistry and biology.

Bump mapping should not be confused with texture mapping.

Techopedia Explains Bump Mapping

Bump mapping requires heavy processing resources and is usually hardware driven. Bump mapping calculation support is specified by 3-D graphics card chips. Bump mapping adds surface detail by responding to light direction.

Two popular bump mapping types are:

Emboss bump mapping: A multipass algorithm technique that extends texture embossing and duplicates texture images. The images are then shifted to the desired bump amount, underlying texture is darkened and excess texture is trimmed. Finally, the duplicate texture images are combined as one. Emboss bump mapping is also known as two-pass emboss bump mapping.

Environment mapped bump mapping (EMBM): A surface detailing method that incorporates texture/bump/environment maps. Bump and environment maps combine after the shifted environment map is applied to the texture map.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.