This demo nicely illustrates the huge visual enhancement that normalmapping brings to Away3D. You can click on the bust to swap between the new Dot3BimapMaterial and the old WhiteShadingBitmapMaterial for a direct comparison. New materials that take advantage of normal maps will be included in the next release of Away3D.
The normal map in this example was created from a high-poly mesh using a technique decribed here. The resulting model has significantly fewer triangles, but retains a high degree of detail in the displayed object. This is hugely beneficial to scenes where high render speeds require low poly-models.