The first thing that I learned about normal mapping is that it is extremely difficult and requires a lot of smaller tweaking and changing in the settings to get a good normal map, however once complete greatly helps to reduce a poly count and optimize a scene.
We were tasked with creating a box, chest, or some kind of simple shape model which we could later add detail to. I decided to go with a simple chest from counter strike global offensive. I also created a copy of the higher poly model and textured it which you can see above.
I first created the simple shape of the box and named it the low poly box but I also found out I needed to put all of my major silhouette changing things in the lower poly model as since the normal map will only paint on top of what it has it will not paint a texture on an area that doesn’t exist.
The process was difficult to grasp at first however once looking back over the power point tutorial and tweaking a few settings I managed to start to get a lower poly mesh with some kind of texture added, although not perfect it is a start and I will be attempting this again in my own time to help me better understand the process.
Normal Mapping Tutorial: Maya_NormalMapping