Recently, I’ve been creating smooth normal maps from high poly models, and I’ve started to notice that saving them directly in 8 bit generates a lot of banding. So I wanted to save them in 16 bit directly and then dither down to 8, but the texture was brighter than it should be.
Here’s this small tutorial, thanks to plasticmind, who helped me with the part of fixing the gamma levels of the texture before dithering it down to 8 bit. This makes the texture dithered instead of banded. If you prefer banded, don’t do this, but if you prefer dithering to ugly banding, keep reading.
WARNING: Don’t do this if you’re not sure if your texture is 16 bit, else you could potentially screw it up.
UPDATE: Sadly, I’ve had some problems with normal maps causing seams using this method. If you get seams doing this, you’ll have to directly bake to 8.