Introducing Handplane Baker

polycounter lvl 11
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AlecMoody polycounter lvl 11
Hello Polycount,

This is a long time coming for us- Handplane is now a full baking tool. Our goal with handplane baker is to build the most efficient baking tool for a production environment and make it free. We have a lot of cool features that should save you time and effort. I did a video overview of the tool which you can watch here:

You can get handplane baker on gumroad as $0+ name your own price here:

If you find a bug or have an issue- please take screenshots. If you get an error, or see some behavior that is clearly broken, please save a handplane project file and pack it up along with your models, then email them to me:


To get updates grab a new installer from gumroad. You can verify your version in the about window

11/12/2016 - v 0.9.3

*Fixed Issue where some users reported not having the correct Visual C++ distribution after installation

*Pressing the bake button while in progress now cancels the bake

*8 bit TGA output

*Added dithering for 8 bit outputs

*Fixed PNG not writing correctly for some users

*Added an option to generate smooth highpoly normals when no mesh normals are found

*Improved loading of mesh normals for high poly models

*Improved stability with large resolution and high sample count bakes

*Added option to suppress warnings for mesh triangulation

*Set default back ray distance to 5

*Added a button next to the output path that opens the output folder in explorer
*Included our old tangent space calculator, handplane 1.6 in the installer.

v 0.9.2

*Fixed some low level bugs exposed by meshes missing important information (texture coordinates, normals)

*Added notification for bake failures when models are missing texture coordinates, normals, or other critical info.

Patch 0.9.1 <- download a new installer from gumroad
*Fixes FBX issues some users were having

*Sets default image format to tiff 16

*Warns users if they are baking without an output folder set

Some of the highlights:

Fast and all CPU based

I have been doing my testing on 10-20 million triangle meshes. Loading and baking models that large is super quick. With the exception of our ray trace AO, all of our output maps are extremely fast. The raytrace AO is the slowest output but we also have an alternative post process AO that is very quick/smooth and works well in many circumstances. For a benchmark on large mesh handling (with an i7 4770k): A 20 million triangle mesh takes about 6 seconds to load into memory, building the projection structure takes an addition 5 seconds, and baking a 2k 4x super sample tangent space map takes 7 seconds. Totaling 18 seconds for a final quality 2k bake of 20 million triangles.

Projection groups

This lets you bake multiple meshes on top of each other into one output map. No more exploding models. Projection groups also let you do things like isolate ambient occlusion within a group, assign ray projection distances to multiple models at once, and assign materials. Here is an overview of the model loading and projection setup page of our UI:

PSD material output

You can create, save, and share libraries of material base colors. Assign them to pieces of your models and they are baked into an organized PSD set up with layer masks, ready for you to paint on. I am really hoping people post and share their material libraries so we can build a central repository for everyone to work from. You can name and edit colors for 3 material properties in the editor like this:

This is very flexible, and can be used for metalness, specular, or even something like dota2 material output. For dota2 output you would name your channels color, mask1, mask2 and then for the mask layers adjust each RGB color channel to set your desired metalness, color warp... We still need to figure out an a clean way to handle the alpha channel properties for specular exponent and self illumination. You can use the matID swatch color to get an additional 3 color channels but they aren’t masked nicely like the others. Suggestions are welcome.

The resulting PSD pulls in all the naming and colors done in handplane and looks like this:

New tangent space outputs

In addition to all of the tangent space outputs in older version of handplane we have added support for Unity 5.3, Unreal 4, and Source 2. All of these have also been ported to the tangent space calculator which I will post separately as handplane 1.6.

Future plans:

*More fast AO output options and improvements to what we currently have.

*I would like to look into substance painter integration or find ways to make our tool work seamlessly with substance.

*Figure out why exporting a model as FBX, and then exporting a second copy with push modifier results in a different file size. This is a pain for cages.

From suggestions:

*figure out FBX issue (someone who has this issue needs to send me files so I can reproduce it)
*Create warning with option to cancel when users bake without an output location set
*Add a button to the UI to open the output location in explorer
*.tga support <- Also make sure 8 bpp output is dithered
*Set tiff to default output. Personally, I don't like PNG files.
*Create a user editable default project

Please test our tool, break it, and post bugs and feedback in this thread. You can also find more info on the tool at  The help page has lots of detailed information and provides a quick overview of the features.


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