Best Practices for Hard Surface Normal Map Baking

Simon Péloquin has shared a new guide with tips and tricks on hard surface normal map baking.

Simon Péloquin has shared a new guide with tips and tricks on hard surface normal map baking. Let’s check it out.

  1. Smooth High Poly

When modeling your high poly model, make sure to smooth it more than how it would look in real life. You should exaggerate your chamfers to make sure it’s smooth enough for your normal map resolution. This will also ensure that your texture compression is optimal and that your model looks fine even from a certain distance!

  1. Smoothing Groups matching UV chunks

 To avoid artifacts over your UV seams on your model, you should make sure to match your Smoothing Groups to your UV chunks.     

UV seam = Hard edge!

  1. Keep your UVs at 90 degrees angles

It’s a good habit to keep or even force your UVs to be at 90 degrees angles. This way, your normal map will have better compression if it needs to be shrunk and it will also be easier to pack! You really should try to avoid weirdly angled or curved UVs since it will result in a pixel-aliased normal map.

Even if it means having minor texture stretching, it’s well worth it to keep your UVs as square as possible.

  1. Triangulate

You should make sure to triangulate your models before baking and exporting. Some other software solutions might auto-triangulate your model differently than how your baking software did, and that would mess up your normals.

  1. Quick tips and trick

     – Make sure to have a proper cage that envelops your whole high poly.

     – Bake with the highest quality settings and as large as possible, you’ll be able to shrink it down according to your needs if it’s necessary.

     – Add a padding to your textures using the xNormal Dilation

Simon Peloquin, 3D Artist – Ubisoft Saguenay

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Comments 2

  • Charles

    This is great. Keeping UVs at 90 degrees never occurred to me but it makes so much sense it seems obvious in retrospect



    ·5 years ago·
  • Arzach

    I hereby outlaw the use of the term "Best Practices".



    ·5 years ago·

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