Baking in 3ds Max: A General Overview, Part 2

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Baking in Max can be a daunting process. Last time, in Part 1 we talked about what you need to get started, options for renderers, a few of the different kinds of bakes you can do, plus how and why to do test renders.

Part 2

This time, in Part 2, we go into the approach for Unwrapping, the details of Render to Texture, and the actual baking.

Part 1 | Part 2

Initial Bake

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Unwrap Model
Bakes work by recording the lighting intensity for each point on a model's surface into a texture. This means that, under normal circumstances, you don't want any overlaps or tiling used in the UV channel that you bake to otherwise you may have some very strange results in your baked lighting. While unwrapping by hand produces the best results, automatic unwraps are usually more than enough. Bake UVs are usually unwrapped to channel 3.

There are a few common options for creating lightmap UVs for large numbers of objects. One is to use the automatic unwrap feature of Render to Texture, though this always groups matching material IDs together resulting in a lot of wasted UV space. Another option is to use a scripted tool written in-house called SteamRoller, which does a similar function but isolated from any other dialog and without requiring the material ID option. Paid plugins also exists that can do unwrapping, some of which also have their own special baking options.

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Baking in 3ds Max: A General Overview, Part 1

Header_Baking_20171128

Baking in Max can be a daunting process. There are numerous choices, and it may be unclear what is going to give the ideal results. This guide gives a general overview of the process to take your work from an unbaked model to final baked scene.

Part 1

In this first section, we talk about what you need to get started, options for renderers, a few of the different kinds of bakes you can do, plus how and why to do test renders, and what mesh issues to look out for.

Part 1 | Part 2

Starting Out

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Ready to Go
Before you're ready to bake, you'll ideally have a scene that's realtime ready. This usually means a low-ish polycount (under 2 million), Scanline:Standard materials, and bitmap based textures instead of procedural ones. While it's possible to bake high polycount objects, such as unoptimized architecture scenes, they may take an exceptionally long time to unwrap, and may also have trouble running once exported.

You'll also want to have some familiarity with the OSG Exporter, but if not you can also start off by loading up the sample preset file from the Storing and Loading OSG Settings tutorial.

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What is… Crazybump?

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Crazybump is a tool that analyzes a source texture such as a diffuse map and attempts to generate additional supplementary maps based on that analysis. It has been in use by numerous professionals in 3d graphics since its beta was first released in 2007.

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Crazybump is especially useful for generating tangent space normal maps, but can be used to create approximate height and specular maps, and a few other types. Many of these types of maps can be slow and difficult to create by hand or with freeware tools.
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Underwater Effect

The example script in this article simulates the type of visual distortion that occurs in an underwater scene. It uses a custom post-process effect created using Vizard's vizfx.postprocess library and GLSL (OpenGL shading language).
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Creating a toon effect in 3ds Max

Watch the video tutorial in this article to learn how to add a black border around a model in 3ds Max, giving it a toon-like appearance. With just a couple short steps you'll be able to add the same effect to your own models.
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