Texture baking is the processing of baking the normal information from one mesh to another. Usually baking a high poly version of a mesh onto a low poly version of a mesh. Substance painter workflow makes it really easy to bake normals for your meshes.
I (usually) always create my high poly meshes first. After modeling for some time, I’ll usually get something like this:
This mesh has 258,000 triangles and looks great. But it’s not very optimized and a lot of the details on this mesh can be baked onto something a bit more manageable.
So now, I create my low poly version. My method for creating low poly mesh, may be considered crude. But, I have found this method to be the fastest and best way to get a low poly mesh. And when I have a list of 100 meshes to make, going fast is my priority.
The first step is to duplicate the high poly object. I’ll usually separate some of the pieces so that certain information isn’t baked onto parts of the mesh. So something like this:
I then delete all the small detached pieces that will be baked into the mesh, like the trim around the cushions and the metal buttons.
Then, finally, I go through the entire mesh dissolving edge loops. This could take a while if you were to select each edge loop individually, but there are shortcuts and selection tools that make this process go super quick, regardless of the amount of polygons. One method I like is to use ctrl + alt click to get a loop of edges around the meshes and then go to select -> select loops -> edge loops. Once I have that selection I can dissolve all those edges.
The crude part of this is, usually I’m just eyeballing what I want to get rid of. Sometimes this can make for a wonky looking mesh. I’ll end up with something that looks like this:
And here are my UVs:
In substance painter, I import my low poly mesh and navigate to the bake option. Substance painter’s new baked options lets you visually see how far out you are baking information. Baking in Substance is really easy. It’s literally just a couple clicks. Sometimes you have to mess with the settings here and there to get it right. One thing you need to remember is that your high poly mesh and low poly mesh need to be in the exact same location when you export it from your 3D program.
This is what the low poly mesh looks like with baked normals.
From here you can texture and the final mesh ended up looking like this: