How to Bake Perfect Normals in Blender – Tutorial

This! is a normal map And when you apply it to a mesh it creates the illusion of height information, without costing you anything in render times Now normal maps are frequently found on material websites, like Poliigon, as it allows you to create more realistic-looking materials But You can also create your own normal map by taking a high-res mesh, placing it on top of a low-res mesh, then baking the detail from one to the other This method is used extensively in video games And, in fact, if you go looking for it, You'll find that almost every single model in a "triple A game", has a normal map baked onto it Because It's free detail! It costs nothing in performance, but it adds significant detail and realism And while it's often associated with video games, it's not exclusive You'll find baked normals across most objects in movies as well As it adds surface level detail, without costing anything in render times

So really useful trick I think you'll find a lot of use for it So Let's get to it! Okay! So on layer one, we have our high-poly anvil with sculpting details and everything And then on layer two, I have this lower-poly anvil – very simplified mesh If you want to download this blend file you can, it's in the YouTube description Or, if you've been following on from the last tutorials, then you should have something like this, as well Now, first thing, before you start baking anything is you wanna make sure that both the high-poly and the low-poly mesh are sharing the same position

Like they're – basically they're overlapping each other And you can see that ours sort of is uhhh but it's not quite there

So what I'm gonna do is just select both meshes, and then I'm gonna hit "Alt-G" And "Alt-G" just moves the selected object to the exact center of the grid floor there And because the origin point is the same, it's made them perfectly line up And now you can see that they are exactly overlapped Okay Ummm

Cool The other thing I want you to note is that we are in Cycles render mode There's a slightly different workflow if you're using the old internal renderer

So that's why I'm telling you right now Make sure you're – you are in Cycles render mode um Ok! Now the next thing you need to do is, you need to create an image file Because we are creating a normal map And, because there's not – Like it – we're creating out of thin air – THIN AIR

we have to first of all create that image So I'm gonna split this view here, and I'm gonna go to the "UV/Image Editor" Okay, so this is where it normally displays your render, which is why it says "Render Result" there

But if we click "Image", and then hit "New (Image)" Um This little pop up here appears Um

So first of all, give it a name (Typing) "Normal" And then for the width and the height, that's quite important Um Because, if it's too small of an image file, like dimension-wise, um you're gonna see like blurriness in your actual Um final looking normal map

So you wanna make sure it is big enough One is a little bit too small 2k is better

Ummm K, by the way, It's like a thousand So yeah, if this was 2,000, that would be okay But it's actually better if it is 4k, in this particular case So, instead of actually just clicking this and typing in "4000", you want to actually keep the numbers to the power of two I believe, that is

So the easiest way to do this is if it's "1024" If you just type in "Times" or star four "*4", it's now done that multiplication for you

In the field Which is a cool little trick a lot of peop- a lot of people don't realize you can do Like you can do like divided by 3 "/3", or Uh, whatever Oh, and the other thing you can do is if you just hit "Ctrl-C", over one value, and then "Ctrl-V" And it pastes it There you go, little trick Ok! So you hit "OK", and look at that! We have a completely, black-looking square

Which is fine Ummm Now

The bake settings is exactly where my head is so I'm gonna move my face out of the way, because it's less important than this So The baking – Uhhh information, that's here, in the render view – render panel, right at the bottom, you'll see one that says "Bake" Right here Um So the bake type, by default, is set to "Combined", we want to change it to "Normal" Now you can leave all of these setting as it's default

But, because we are baking from one object onto another what we wanna do is select "Selected to Active" And then! One you've done that, you want to make sure that you, first of all, select your high-poly mesh FIRST

So FIRST is the HIGH-POLY mesh And I know that it's that because I can see all the sculpting detail there And then, select your LOW-POLY mesh, AFTERWARDS So, "Selected to Active" is it is basically it's everything which is selected, it's gonna bake it to the active object The active (object), is the last one which is selected, because it is that lighter, orange color Whereas, the previous selected objects are orange um So there you go

(Laughing) A little bit I don't know You gotta work your head around it

But there you go So now that we've done that, if we were to hit "Bake", you would see that it says "No active image found"

You might think – "Well, why? We've already created this one here?!" Well It's actually looking for it, in the material setting of that object

So, if we were to split this view, right here, Ummm and then change this to be the "Node Editor" And then here – So we're – again, this is with the selected object, which is the low-poly object There's no material, so I'm just gonna hit "New" And then here – It's just created a "Diffuse Shader" Whatever, doesn't matter

What we want to do is add in The ima- an IMAGE TEXTURE node So "TextureImage Texture"

So that was "Shift-A" I used to bring this thing up So "Shift-A" And then, just click, drop that in here, and then from this drop-down, we're just gonna select the name of our image that we created So I'm just gonna click "Normal" Now Because this "Image Texture" node is selected, now, when we hit normal (Bake*), it's going to start, finally baking

So it's a little, a roundabout way of of – getting there And it's a little bit "fiddly' and

You wouldn't be alone if you thought like "Wow, that's a little bit uhh of a weird workflow" But I believe the reason it's doing – it looks for the selected node in the material, Umm Is that It is uhhhh It – This baking setting allows you to bake every single object, in a scene, at the same time

So, if you wanted to do that, at the same time, for every object, you would need to make sure that the material, there's a node in it selected So that's that workflow Anyways, it'll take you about 30 seconds And 100% – There we go! Okay! So This (Lol) is the image that it has baked Now, if you're not used to you know, normal maps, you're probably thinking like "Is that right?"

"Looks pretty weird to me, but maybe it's right?" Well No

It's half right Okay so this Purple/pink/bluey sort of color, that's really good

So it's got some of it right, but it's got this mustard green (?!) values for everything else So if you see like this mustard green (color) that's

Uhh Basically incorrect It means that something hasn't baked properly I believe it means it's baking the opposite side of a face that it should be

Umm But anyway, the reason it has done that, is that down here, underneath "Selected (to) Active", you've got a "Ray Distance" value And that is the distance, that the mesh is going to be shooting the rays out from the face, to find the high-poly mesh So it found some of the information okay Like, on the inside there Um But the stuff that is pointing outside the mesh, it hasn't found it at all

So you just need to increase the value to be anything that isn't um zero So let's try point one "

1" and let's bake that and let's see what we get Aaaannd 100%

There we go Okay So this is what we've got um And this is almost there It's like totally purple and blue and pink

Which is great! And then right up here We've got a little green area ughhh So something's not right, as well

And the reason for that is that is that area right there, that portion of the mesh, if we were to go into "Edit Mode", and have a look, we would see that it's this little circle right here So this "Ray Distance", what it's actually doing is it's shooting the rays out, outside the mesh, which is great But it's also, happened to shoot it in this little area, and it's actually hitting the walls on the other side So basically, this value (1), is slightly too high

So let's try half of that value, which would be "05" And now when we bake it We can see that it looks fine! So with that green area is gone away, and you can see the rest of it looks fantastic So congratulations! You have baked your normal (map)! So the next step is to save it So go "ImageSave As Image" And then you need to find somewhere on your hard drive that you want to save it um I've done this quite a few times, so I'm going to name it "Normal6" png and hit "Save As (Image)"

Um So if you were to – I don't know You're exporting this into Unity or Unreal you can do that right now But what I'm going to show you is how to with this low-poly one selected, is to give it a render and see how it looks with that normal map applied to it So uhhh Okay, let's move that out of the way, and let's have a look at this

So what we wanna do is we wanna take this image texture, and we want to connect it into the "Normal" input, of our Diffuse Shader, right there If you were to render it, it would look totally weird And that is because you need to drop in a "Normal Map" node So "Shif-A, VectorNormal Map" And drop it between the image texture and your thing (Diffuse Shader)

So it's now gone – converting it to the right colors As it should The "Strength", that's the strength of the bump But we can just leave it as "1" And the other thing that you need to make sure you change is go from "Color" to "Non-Color Data"

Which is what you need to do whenever you're using a normal map Okay, so, now that we've done that, let's have a look at it with some lights I've just got some lights here and a plane On layer 11 there So I'm just having a look at the low-poly mesh and those lights

And let's give it a quick render with "Shift-Z" And you can actually see some detail on the mesh Now, it's really hard to see because this Diffuse Shader – it's really not the best shader for looking at this sorta thing So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna change it to something which we'll actually use for the final material, and that is a "Principled Shader" Which is the new spanking-new shader for 279

Which is really cool Now I'll take that normal map, drop it into the "Normal" input there, and now I'll set the value to be really metallic

100% metallic And The roughness – I'll turn it down slightly and let's make this a darker metal

And now We can see what it looks like And there you go! It's hard to actually believe like – okay like "Ok, are we looking at the high-poly mesh?"

No This IS the low-poly mesh! We're only looking at the low poly on layer 2 there And if I was to have a look in – in "Edit Mode", you can see that it is that! Okay Which is really, really cool! um So that's why this normal map thing is so, so Awesome! umm Because yeah, this just would not be possible – like to render this in 3 seconds, or whatever Let's actually try it with the high-poly mesh, and let's see how long that takes It'll have it a Diffuse Shader, I guess, on it But let's have a look So you can see We went from the 3 second render to a Whatever This is 7 seconds

So it's over double the render time, to actually use the high-poly Although there's no difference between them ummm So that's why this is so important That's why it's so cool umm Yeah! So I hope you enjoyed this video

If you did, please give it a thumbs up! Help other people to find it And if you wanna go and uh – go to the next video, after this we are going to be texture painting this bad boy So if you wanna see that, go ahead and click on that video, up there Thank you for watching See you in the next video Bye!