I have been following quite tiring workflow to get a nice round edge look on low poll meshes for game assets but not sure if this can be improved or if I'm doing some unnecessary work.
Well, to get a seamless baking, I separate all hard edges on lowpoly model on Maya and then bake high poly model into lowpoly in substance painter but UV mapping process takes too much time if there are model gets too complex.
Usually I create initial UV maps even hard edges ae stitched together to get a compact layout, then select all hard edges and separate them. Later decrease the texel density just a bit to get some padding around separated UVs. With that I get what I need but I have to add padding to all UVs manually to prevent seams and it is time killer. I'm hoping to get some advices how to add automatic padding without changing the layout entirely.
Thanks in advance.
For context and for those unaware, this is what is being discussed here :
My assumption is that the lack of tools for this might simply come from the fact that many artists (and furthermore tech artists) are simply not aware of this scenario - even though it is so fundamental for clean, lightweight game art. Or rather, many know about it in theory, but don't realize that the padding requires quite a bit of manual attention for anything more complex than a cube, and even more so when one wants to keep a sensical UV layout with islands oriented and grouped properly like a regular unwrap.
Sure enough this "split and pad" step could be automated if enough resources were put into it.
The following layout is far from unoptimized - quite the opposite really ...
And furthermore, the OP specifically mentioned that he doesn't want an automatically arranged layout, and is looking for a solution that respects the initial continuous unwrap.
@Eric Chadwick : using mesh to UV could indeed be an interesting workaround - although I am not sure if a push doing the kind of desired padding on a flat surface is actually available. One viable option would be to give the UV mesh some thickness, and then move everything along the normals. Unlike regular island scaling it would produce an even padding throughout.
Wait, isnt this just normal baking workflow? Why is this made so complicated - Unwrap, split hard edges by UV islands, done? am I missing something?
And for the workflow to be fully viable, this "split and pad" step needs to be done after a regular, human readable unwrap has been laid out. As far as I am concerned i've always done the spreading by hand (like the OP does), but after trying the technique shown in the video about 3 time now I can confirm that it fully works. The lengthy UV to mesh > extrude > push along normals > unwrap from top view > morph back process is obviously only a proof of concept though - ideally this should all be a single operation done at the UV level. But as far as I am aware, not a single 3d software has it (the closest would be a uniform scale applied to all parts, but this doesn't work at all on real practical cases as it creates overlaps). In a way this really goes to show how misunderstood this technique is ...