Bake Mesh Maps

Learn how to bake 3D mesh textures to improve your texturing in Substance 3D Painter.

Baking is the process of saving information from a 3D mesh, to a texture file (bitmap).

Most of the time, this process involves two meshes, a high poly mesh and a low poly mesh:

  • A high poly mesh has many polygons (often millions) which means it can display high-resolution 3D detail.
  • The low poly mesh has far fewer polygons (usually only a few thousand), so it is cheaper to store and render.

Baking textures allows you to get the best of both worlds: the high level of detail from the high poly mesh and the low performance costs of the low poly mesh. In the baking process, the information of the high poly mesh is transferred onto the low poly mesh and saved into a texture.

 Substance Bakers read mesh properties and bake them down to a texture.

Normal map baking example. Image by Paolo Cignoni - CC BY-SA 1.0.
Image by Paolo Cignoni - CC BY-SA 1.0

Generate Mesh Maps

Substance 3D Painter generates Mesh Maps by baking mesh information. Mesh maps can be used to give more information related to the mesh geometry and enhance the look of materials. Many filters and materials adapt to the geometry of a 3D mesh by looking at these baked textures. For example, baking can provide information about ambient shadows, where edges of geometry lie, or how thick an area of the mesh is.

For example: an old car may have rust applied at its bottom because it hasn't moved for a while. Baking the position map allows Painter's filters and generators to know where the bottom of the mesh is. When the filters and generators have this extra information, they can create effects that use the geometry of the mesh to appear more realistically. 

Example of Material using  a Curvature and Occlusion baked textures.
Example of Material using a Curvature and Occlusion baked textures.

Uwaga:

For more technical information on this subject, have a look at the Baking Documentation.

Baking Textures in Substance 3D Painter

Discover how to bake mesh maps to enhance your texturing.

Substance 3D Painter supports a set of Mesh maps which all have different usages:

Baker Name

Description

Normal

Generates a Tangent Space Normal map. This describes the normal angle at the surface of the object. This kind of normal map is commonly used to shade and simulate details on the surface of a low-poly 3D mesh.

World Space Normal

This kind of normal map knows which part of an object faces up or down in the world. For example, Mask Generators in Substance 3D Painter can use this information to deposit dust on any surfaces that face up.

ID

This map can be used to generate colored areas to make masking and selecting easier with other tools.

Ambient Occlusion

Generates a texture that contains the ambient shadows. Similar to overcast lighting from the sky on a white surface.

Curvature

Generates a texture that contains edges and cavities. The curvature is often used to damage edges of the geometry to simulate edge wear.

Position

Generates a texture that contains the position of each point on the 3D mesh. In other words, this tells Painter where the top and bottom, front and back, and left and right sides of the mesh are.

Thickness

Generates a texture that contains the thickness of the 3D mesh.

How to bake Mesh maps

  1. Open the Texture Set Settings window:

    Image that shows where to click in the interface to display the Texture Set Settings window.

    Or display the Texture Set Settings window from the side panel:

    Image that shows where to click in the interface to display the Texture Set Settings window.

  2. Inside the Texture Set Settings window, click the Bake Mesh Maps button to open the Baker Settings window:

     

    Image of the button in the Texture Set settings to open the Baker Settings

  3. Click the Bake selected textures or Bake "Your Material Name" button at the bottom of the Baker Settings window to start the process:

    Image of where to find the Bake All button inside the Baking window

  4. Once the Baking process is done, click OK to close the dialog.

    baking result page

After closing the Baking process dialog, the project is ready to be textured.

What's Next?

You now know all about baking in Substance 3D Painter. Next, you can learn more about painting and projections.

Have a question or an idea?

If you have a question to ask, come and participate in the Substance 3D Painter community. We would love to hear from you. 

You can also share your ideas of new features with us!

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