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What are CubeMaps?

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Cube maps generally encapsulate 6 different textures, in a way that each one of them represents either "left", "right", "top", "bottom", "front" or "back".

You can use them in any way that is suitable to the paradigm - for example, you could render the scene from six different directions to the cube map surfaces, and use the reflection vector from the geometry to address the map for reflection mapping. Alternatively, you could encode any function to a cubemap, provided the parameter would be a normalized 3d vector (example being normalization maps).


EDIT:A visual explanation. Theory is the same whether using DX or OGL.

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