Hello workshop artists. I wanted to put together a thread to more formally introduce handplane to the workshop community. We have been sponsoring the the dota challenges on polycount for the last few months and I am a longtime member of polycount. From what I can tell, only some of you are using our tool. I wanted to address that since it is free and can save you time and effort. I am going to write a bunch of information on here, but for the lazy people who don’t want to read a wall of text I will summarize the takeaway. handplane + source engine = no more shading errors and no need for hard edges or splitting your model. You also can use all of your existing baking tools and workflow, you do not need to learn a complicated piece of software.
you can download handplane from http://www.handplane3d.com/download.htmlArtists selling models through the steam workshop do not need to pay for a commercial handplane license
handplane - YouTube[/ame]
So what does handplane do? A lot, but the main thing handplane does is calculate tangent space in accordance with the game engine your model is going into. Tangent space is the coordinate system that relates a color in the normal map to an angle in the world. Unlike world or object space, tangent space maps use a combination of information in the model and the normal map to create the final normals that are displayed on screen. This gets complicated because there are many methods for setting up this coordinate system. This is much like an encoding and decoding problem. The system used to encode the normal map must be the same as the system that is used to read and display the normals in the game.Unfortunately, when most baking tools and game engines were being written, nobody bothered to check and see how other developers were handling this. As a result, most game engines do not have a single baking tool that can create a tangent space map that will be 100% correctly rendered in game. If you have done much normal map baking, especially with weapons and hard surface work, you will have seen the results of this mismatch in the form of gradients in the lighting and shading. Typically artists fix this with hard edges and extra edge loops. Both of which make the model less efficient and waste time. With handplane you do not need to add any hard edges or use any extra geometry to get your normal maps to be displayed correctly, it will just render correctly.
Tips for getting started with handplane quickly
1) Triangulate your models before using handplane.
Also use the same triangulation for the model you send into source. When a triangle flips direction, the normals and tangents both change, causing the tangent space map to no longer be correct for the new topology.
2) You can use handplane with virtually any baking tools and 3d software.
Source expects normals imported with the model, so long as you can export a model with normals from your 3d program you can use handplane. SBM is a very reliable option for source users but FBX and OBJ can also work just as well (so long as your software can export an FBX or OBJ with smoothing splits and normals intact).
3) Set handplane’s input map to “Auto Detect”
. We will likely remove all the other options in the next build as they cause unwanted confusion. If prompted about y/z orientation, click yes.
4) Reset transforms before baking normals or sending your model to handplane.
Some model formats pass transforms correctly and others don’t. If your object space map contains transforms but they don’t make it into handplane, all of your shading will be rotated and your normal map will look very strange. By resetting transforms you circumvent this problem.
5) For overlapping or mirrored UVs, use the same set of UV shells all the time.
Much like the resetting transforms issue- If you shuffle your UV shells around and use a different set for baking vs handplane you will get shading that faces the wrong direction and a normal map that looks very strange. The simplest solution here is to just use the same model file for baking as you use with handplane.
The most common problem people see when using handplane is a tangent space normal map that doesn’t look blue. People often mistake this multi-colored output for a world/object space map. In reality, this is a tangent space map but with shading that is facing the wrong direction. It is typically related to suggestions 3,4, or 5. Another step to figuring out the cause of errors to is to test your object/world space normal maps with a viewport shader and confirm they actually face the correct direction. You can also post in this thread, the official support thread in technical talk, or email me with your issues. [email protected]
Lastly, if you want to see handplane source output compared directly to 3dsmax, maya, and xnormal you can check out this video:
engine comparison with handplane - YouTube[/ame]