Best software to bakes meshes with?

Zoddo
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Zoddo node
As the title says, what is the best overall software, to bake normal maps and more with?
I myself use 3dsmax, but the bakes are not of a quality I would like. I also know about marmoset tool bag, but not sure if there's any others good alternatives.
I am not rich, so I would like to spend my money wisely before spending 100-500 euros on software (so no zbrush for me :()

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  • Invidelis
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    Invidelis polycounter lvl 2
    Personally I found Marmoset 3 the best one so far. I used xNormal (Free), 3dsMax Substance and Knald.

    If you are on a tight budget but can afford substance, it might be the best bang for your buck, since you get the texturing suit as well as their baker which is pretty good aswell.
  • Zoddo
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    Zoddo node
    Invidelis said:
    Personally I found Marmoset 3 the best one so far. I used xNormal (Free), 3dsMax Substance and Knald.

    If you are on a tight budget but can afford substance, it might be the best bang for your buck, since you get the texturing suit as well as their baker which is pretty good aswell.

    Substance has baking software, or is that implemented within substance painter aswell?
  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis polycount lvl 666
    I second Marmoset. You can assign your high and low poly meshes to baking groups, so you don't need to explode your mesh. Substance Painter has a 'bake by mesh name' option, but I've never been able to get this to work for some reason. Marmoset Tool Bag also has a preview bake, where you'll kind of see what your bake will look like when it's done, and you can live edit cages, ray distance, etc, just by painting inside Tool Bag. Wish I had started using this earlier for baking.
  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor polycount lvl 666
    Toolbag is the best. Fast, easy, powerful.
  • EarthQuake
    I'm biased of course, but Toolbag is the best baker out there. @Ashervisalis covered most of the important bits. Toolbag shows a real-time preview of your bakes, and has tools to correct skew and cage errors in the viewport. This makes it very easy to diagnose and fix problems. Bake groups (which can be set up via name matching with the quick loader) makes it easy to deal with complex meshes with many intersecting parts. Toolbag uses the GPU to bake, so it's much faster than CPU-based bakers such as Xnormal, Maya and Max.

    https://marmoset.co/posts/toolbag-3-texture-baking/

    https://marmoset.co/posts/toolbag-baking-tutorial/

    Substance's bakers have some similar features, but no real-time preview or cage visualization, so you're flying blind and have to wait for the bake to finish, check the results, adjust settings, rebake, etc.

    Knald has a great real-time preview system as well, but lacks many of Toolbag's features.

    Xnormal is a great choice if you need something free. It doesn't have very many bells and whistles, but it will do the job if you don't mind doing things like manually exploding the meshes to avoid projection errors. It's generally slow and clunky to use, but again, it's free.
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
  • musashidan
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    musashidan insane polycounter
    What TB needs is a live link to Painter. I still bake NMs in Painter, but TB curvature and AO are better quality.

    I've also been using InstaLod to bake recently and it's faster than anything else. It can remesh multi-million meshes, auto-unwrap, and bake all maps in a single step faster than Painter can bake a single 4k AO map.

    @Ashervisalis SP match by mesh name works perfectly.
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