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  [3D models] Why calculate tangents?  (Read 2291 times)
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Offline Ecumene

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« Posted 2014-10-09 23:58:20 »

So I've seen here and there tangents being used in 3D graphics. My question is, why? My first thought was that it may be something to do with lighting, because of how a tangent of a circle/plane is where a line touches, but not intersects it. So maybe it was used for not calculating light for a specific face behind another. Which could be done with basic shadow mapping... Then I thought it may have to do with shadow mapping... And now I'm just really confused...

I also know that it is the the length of the 'opposite' side divided by the length of the 'adjacent' side of a right angle'd triangle.

Pic:
Click to Play

- Does this have to do with calculating the edge of circles/planes from a point in space, but how? I've seen 'models' with a tangent component, and they weren't calculated from a specific light point either.

TL;DR: What does tangents have to do with 3D models? And why/how/where should I use them?

Offline EgonOlsen
« Reply #1 - Posted 2014-10-10 05:40:47 »

They are used for normal mapping and related tasks like parallax/offset mapping. As long as you don't do that, you won't need them.

Offline Roquen

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« Reply #2 - Posted 2014-10-10 07:10:57 »

There's also applying a map to the surface...like some environment mappings.
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