Substance Painter - Effective pipeline when working with xNormal

polycounter lvl 2
Offline / Send Message
Kid.in.the.Dark polycounter lvl 2
Hey there,

I've had this question in my head for a little while now and I haven't quite worked it out or found a way around it... but I've watched all these tutorials about baking maps to use with substance painter and I'm wondering how flexible SP/SD is when you use maps from xNormal...

So my problem is that I've  baked maps such as Curvature/AO/Normals/objID from xNormals... now when I bring them into SP I'm wondering how I go about baking out a world space normal and a position map? Am I able to generate one with the low poly mesh and my normal map from xNormal or is it necessary to completely rebake using a high poly and cage file etc in SP as well? I haven't found an option to do anything like that either (my apologies if I've misunderstood how SP/SD reuses it's own maps to bake additional maps)

I'm wondering because I've been following tutorials from Mike Pavlovich and all his maps look like they've been baked in SP without the use of xNormal... so when I follow along with him using my maps from xNormal I tend to come across issues using my AO or my Curvature map when using them to define areas for dirt etc when using Generators... however when I use test bakes from SP I get a lot more control through them...

My curvature map from xNormal also seems to be darker than the ones generated in SP?

Left is xNormal Bake and right is SP Test Bake (without all the details from my HP)


I guess I'm just trying to understand how I should go about approaching SP project wise... because another problem I haven't tackled is understanding how SP actually bakes and handles my meshes... I tend to explode bake all my multiple geometry meshes so I don't get pieces that intersect with each other for a clean normal map bake and I don't know how I'd go about that in SP... do I follow the same pipeline? or is there like an object ID feature where you can tell one piece of low poly geometry to read a multiple of high poly geometry like how 3dsmax has with material IDs?

Sorry if that's a billion questions in the promised one question. 

Replies

  • musashidan
    Offline / Send Message
    musashidan polycounter
    Why not skip X normal and just bake in sp or sd? You don't need to explode your meshes as there is a built in feature to bake by matching mesh names. Also, you can set up matIDs  in Max that will import as separate texture sets.
  • Kid.in.the.Dark
    Offline / Send Message
    Kid.in.the.Dark polycounter lvl 2
    I had thought about it but I've been reading all over this forum about people going in between both so I wasn't sure what that was all about... I guess just learning to bake all my models in SP/SD would be a better option just requires a lot of relearning again haha.

    are there any useful tutorials that specifically talks about how to get the best out of the rename/material sets from 3dsmax for SP/SD? I can only find tutorials that kind of assumes you have it all setup already.
  • musashidan
    Offline / Send Message
    musashidan polycounter
    If you check Allegorithmic YouTube channel you'll find an in depth breakdown of the entire process by the Sp/Sd master West McDermott.

    Also, what I love most about baking there is that you get instant feedback with different materials /lighting in the viewport. And it bakes the NM in seconds.
  • Froyok
    Offline / Send Message
    Froyok Polycount Sponsor
    As for our baker, usually our default settings work very well, so the learning curve should be pretty quick. Also faster bake time compared to xNormal. ;)

    Our curvature is generated from the low-poly mesh and its normal map. While xNormal use an high-poly mesh. There is a difference here. Also our algorithmic is probably different form the default settings in xNormal. Since xNormal provide more settings I suggest playing with them until your find something that match our results. 

    Most of the time our content is calibrated to work with our bakers, so even if you stays in xNormal you will have to tweak your maps from xNormal (or play with the xNormal settings) to get similar results.
  • Kid.in.the.Dark
    Offline / Send Message
    Kid.in.the.Dark polycounter lvl 2
    @musashidan ;
    Awesome, thank you for that!

    @Froyok
    Thank you! I'm assuming I'll probably have to drop xNormal from my pipeline for the time being then... although xNormal's drilled into my head already I doubt I'll forget anything at this point on wards anyway haha... just seems like more hassle trying to tweak maps to work with SP/SD when I can just generate it in there any way. Thank you!
  • Nexinumbra
    Offline / Send Message
    Nexinumbra polycounter lvl 7
    Personally I like to bake only my normal map in Xnormal because I like using the SBM file format to have a cage. I'm sure there's a way to do it in SP and use a cage but the workflow is already working fine for me, so why change it? I then bring that in and bake all of the cavity and AO and whatnot in Painter so it has what it needs to properly use Generators. 

    @Froyok Can you give any ideas on what you think the difference is between the way Xnormal bakes normals and the way SP does? I've never seen anything wrong with the normals from Xnormal when used in Painter, but if there's something important then I'd be interested in changing my pipeline.
  • Kid.in.the.Dark
    Offline / Send Message
    Kid.in.the.Dark polycounter lvl 2
    I actually educated myself on the SP baking pipeline last night and tested it... Having to explode bake my model in max and manually build a cage is always very time consuming as last night it took me about just under an hour to setup my meshes for SP via mesh naming/material assignments and bake them without any artifacts and a clean bake... And in comparison would have taken me close to an hour and a half to two hours (the explosion bake method) to setup and bake along with any following possible problems like the cage file somehow not having the same amount of vertex's etc or what not because that often happens without me knowing how.

    SP is an amazing piece of software, I'm crazy glad I've decided to pick it up and learn it now :)
  • Tzur_H
    Offline / Send Message
    Tzur_H polycounter lvl 2
    Just to add, you can also bake in SP/SD using cage + name matching (and still skip exploding the meshes). As long as your cage file contains the exact same UVs as your low poly mesh(es), it will work.  It's a really powerful feature if you need that extra control using cages for your bakes.
  • Nexinumbra
    Offline / Send Message
    Nexinumbra polycounter lvl 7
    That's why I always liked the Xnormal method with SBM format that just required a Projection modifier on the stack. No need to worry about UVs on your cage, no need to worry about having the same number of vertices. I'll have to find some time to test the SP method but after having used Xnormal for so long, Painter will have to drastically improve things for me in order for me to switch. Though I'm still interested in hearing what makes SP normal bakes so different, but i'm sure Froyok will get to it in due time, and I am happy to wait. :)
  • Froyok
    Offline / Send Message
    Froyok Polycount Sponsor
    Hey guys, if you still want to work with xNormal it's fine, there is no issue with that. Use the tool that better fit your workflow. I was just pointing out the advantages of our bakers in a general manner.

    @Froyok Can you give any ideas on what you think the difference is between the way Xnormal bakes normals and the way SP does? I've never seen anything wrong with the normals from Xnormal when used in Painter, but if there's something important then I'd be interested in changing my pipeline.
    There is nothing wrong with xNormal. My point was to indicate that the calibration of some of our bakers differ from xNormal for multiple reasons, but that doesn't mean they are all incompatible. The normal map in fact should be pretty close, or even identical since we use the same tangent space and so on (but I don't guarantee that at 100%, especially since we don't rely on the same math libraries).
  • Burpee
    Offline / Send Message
    Burpee polycounter lvl 2
    @Froyok ;

    Hey!
    Amazing baker imo, the only thing that could be great is a way to bake all the shader / material at once : ))

    Cheers ! 
Sign In or Register to comment.