Sometimes we overthink when we really just need to relax and enjoy the process. Who in the virtual world are we trying to impress with our knowledge of this or that when the solution is already on the table?
Blender cycles does not paint my textures by hand, but it does add some of the detail that I desire after the fact (fake polys). And its so easy and useful, it is not time efficient or cost effective to create a non-color data bump map any other way. This is how it gets done in 10 steps that takes no longer than a couple of minutes (aside from the baking):
1. Paint your model and save the texture.
2. Open the texture in GIMP
3. Select Image.
4. Select Mode.
8. Export Image to .png format.
9. Import to Blender through Texture Image Node (non-color data)
9. Use with Glossy Shader node and other desired nodes.
|Flat Painted Texture Over Vertex Map|
|Edge-Detect for Black and White Edges|