Chuck Shultz

Baking for Beginners Course?

I noticed that the tutorials on baking seem to be limited to baking normals, AO and one or two others.


B UT.....I am not finding a simple course or maybe full article on Baking all the possible maps offered in Blender let alone the "COMBINATION" selection.


Anyone know of such a course that gives us examples of each type of bake? For beginners it learning the steps that tend to work time and time again.


Thanks

  • I've been requesting a course like that too!

  • Maybe someone can explain when you would need some of the "odd" ones people tend not to talk about like

    SUBSURFACE

    TRANSMISSION

    EVIRONMENT

    EMIT

    SHADOW


    Unity maps maybe?


    Thanks

  • I am going to assume if you create a GLOSSY map, you then run that through a color inverter before inputting the map into the ROUGHNESS slot of the Principle Shader?


    Old Blender GURU map course recommendation.



  • crew

    We've covered baking before through articles and some courses. Check out these links: https://cgcookie.com/articles/big-idea-baking and in this course: https://cgcookie.com/lesson/creating-an-image-texture which covers more general texturing along with baking.

  • Thanks Jonathan.....reviewed them but unless I am missing it, they don't explain why we would create and how to use many of the maps listed above. Any place that explains and/or demonstrates them?


    Thanks

  • Yes, please! 

    This speaks to a lot of Blender questions for noobs -that is, the assumption that noobs must know Baking or some other process/command. Even reading the manual is bewildering - at least for me. I acknowledge that for more advanced it may be annoying, but remember you were at our stage at one point - and if lucky had an instructor. 

    Baking is one of those topics that the pros assume everyone knows about. I've had no formal training in Blender so when I stumbled upon Baking there was absolutely no information about what it was, what it did, its purpose, etc. An overview of why and the processes for Baking would be a great "course". 

    Thanks for asking this question! OK CGC, now up to you. Please create a Baking lesson telling us all about it soup to nuts.

    There are many that would be immensely grateful.

  • crew

    Hey guys, thanks for the suggestions. While I will put this on our list, it's not something I can do in the immediate future, though I will try to clear up any questions in this thread. 

    I am not finding a simple course or maybe full article on Baking all the possible maps offered in Blender let alone the "COMBINATION" selection. 

    Kent gives a good quick overview of combined baking in the Fundamentals of Texturing course: https://cgcookie.com/lesson/map-baking-with-cycles

    Maybe someone can explain when you would need some of the "odd" ones people tend not to talk about like SUBSURFACE, TRANSMISSION, EVIRONMENT, EMIT, SHADOW 

    "Baking" just refers to taking something dynamic and easily changable and makes it more permanent but less computationally expensive. (think of baking a simulation - you can tweak the settings before baking but it runs slowly, and after baking you can't tweak the settings but it plays back faster).

    In the cases of render baking, it's baking the different attributes of light to the surface of an object - subsurface is the light that gets scattered inside, transmission is the light that passes through, emit is the light that comes from the surface, and shadow is the absence of light that's being blocked from the surface.

    The best way to see how it works is just to set up different materials that have those attributes, unwrap them, and give those types of baking a try just to experiment.

    This speaks to a lot of Blender questions for noobs -that is, the assumption that noobs must know Baking or some other process/command. 

    I really hope we don't give that impression! Besides baking normals and AO (which we've covered in a few places already), I very rarely bake any other type of map. They're there as options if you need them, but if you don't than it's not something that will hold you back in any way.

    Since there's a million things to learn when it comes to 3D, here's a good rule of thumb: if it's not holding you back from making what you want to make, and it's not something you're excited about, don't feel preassured to learn it. Hope that helps!

  • crew

    I second (third, fourth, and fifth) that response from Lampel. This is a golden rule of thumb:

    "If it's not holding you back from making what you want to make, and it's not something you're excited about, don't feel preassured to learn it."

    <thinking-outloud>
    I've seen these questions about baking for a while and it always makes me scratch my head given how many times we've covered it in our training. Whenever I see a person or several people asking to learn about the more obscure, rarely used aspects of Blender, it makes me wonder if they're more interested in learning everything about the program more than the primary things the program is used for.

    It's an important distinction. The former I can relate to in the way that I'm interested in my favorite band: I'll spend hours researching the band members' personal details, the equipment they use, what inspires them, instrument play styles, etc. But it's purely for interest; information stockpiling. I have no intention of trying to join that band or to make a band of my own.

    The latter approach - Learning the primary things the program is used for - basically governs the way we've always taught at CGC. We assume our students see Blender as merely a tool for creation; a means to an end. If that's the approach of our students, the quote above will be invaluable in your Blender/3D journey.

    But what if there's a significant aspect of our community that's here to learn about Blender primarily? Where Blender isn't a means to an end, it's the end itself. If that's the truth, it could significantly impact how and what we teach.
    </thinking-outloud>

    Esteemed Community, is there anything to that line of thought? 👆


  • crew

    Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think of baking as just taking what would be a "real time" effect and turning it into a "static" effect. When you bake lighting into an object or scene, you're essentially turning everything into a static object that won't move. Since we're baking we're calculating all the lighting and shadows and creating a texture based off that information. That can then be added onto any current textures in the environment, kind of like an overlay. Since this was baked, we no longer need lights and this could be a performance boost.


    With the other maps it's a similar process. When we bake a normal map, we're usually trying to utilize the high poly details of an object to be placed on a lower poly object. With specular/metallic maps we're baking the "shine" of an object, which is usually a black and white image that stores this information about the "highlights" of that object.


    Since Unity maps were mentioned I'll explain the maps I use most often:

    First you'll use an Albedo which is the texture map that provides color (RGB), sometimes this also contains transparency in the form of an alpha value. Next I'll use a Metallic or Specular map which will include the details about how shiny this object is and what parts of it would appear dull or shiny. They both work in similar ways, but used slightly differently by the shaders.

    After that I usually just use a Normal map which is for smaller details like cracks and imprints. This is a purple looking map and "catches" light to seem like real geometry. 

    AO (Ambient Occlusion) and Emission are used occasionally. AO is great for mimicking the shadows within small nooks and crannies of objects and can provide "depth" and realism if done right. Unity can also bake in AO through the lighting settings. Emission would be used to create glowing items. These are not lights, but they act similar to lights in that they cast a glowing light onto nearby objects. 

    I know more about the Unity process in regards to different texture maps than I do about how Blender baking works, so if you have any questions about the game dev side I'd be more than happy to answer them for you. 

  • I think to some there is also the thought "what if one of these buttons that I don't know and no one ever talks about is a magic button that saves me hours in my task?" because goodness knows with the number of buttons and options and tools in Blender we have all, at some point, found something that we didn't know exists that suddenly saves us time/effort.

  • crew

    That can be said about almost any feature though. So many think they need to know everything and anything in Blender (or any software) in order to move forward. Trying to learn every button for that one instance you may use in the future does you no good now. Yes you will find better ways to do something, yes you will find a feature that makes you say "oh man this is way easier", but that comes through experience.

     I'd like to think we teach what is needed, sometimes we may even go more in depth and explain an older way of approaching something or a more efficient way of doing something. Learning what you need to know now, as opposed to trying to learn everything will not only help you learn more efficiently but also helps you focus on the task at hand.

  • I guess it depends somewhat on what you are trying to do. If you are at a stage where you are like "ok I need to make some game assets and I know some of this baking stuff is what I need but I can't find a good description of all of this feature" then I could see diving into that feature and trying to understand it reasonably fully before making the game asset as this might inform some design decisions. I think learning a particular feature to a high degree is different that feeling like you have to know everything about every feature, and I'm sure there are some people like this too and that can certainly make practical usage difficult (though of course not all learners are interested in practical usage either I suppose)

  • Doesn't baking textures also speed up animation rendering?

    And if I remember right, the term 'bake' is also used for 'baking' movement into an animation? Or did I get my wires crossed?

  • crew
    Baking in general tends to be a catch all term for taking dynamic elements and making them "static". For animation it would mean taking the dynamic animation and making into a static animation clip. It can't be changed when it's baked, but that also means we know exactly how much it'll cost in performance to use that. Dynamic elements are more unpredictable so performance costs for those are higher. Baking usually means better performance for this reason.
  • Thanks for the Emission one.... if it can cast a glow would that could be a nice thing to have as I hate using the compositor just to get a glowing object in a scene.....will have to try that one...


    Thanks

  • crew

    catherineirkalla That would certainly explain the volume of questions haha! Safe to say, if no one teaches those mysterious buttons, it's for good reason: Those buttons are rarely used and they're definitely not magic "make CG easy" buttons 😅

  • Did you just reply to yourself?