Normal baking and 3DS Max Tangent basis

During my Skorpion SMG project, I did a lot of normalmap baking. The baking itself really is the most tedious process for me, reaally slows me down a lot, even compared to UV’ing which a lot of people find horrible (I think it’s quite easy if you have TexTools and Unwrap Tools).
Every cage needs an hour of tweaking in my case (I group things into 4-5 big objects) and then still requires overpainting and fixing of normalmaps in Photoshop. I did find out a few things while baking in Max and xNormal:

  • Max uses an incorrect tangent basis to compute the normalmaps from. This results in the maps not working 100% correctly when viewed realtime with a shader. They do look ok when rendered, but that’s pretty useless for a game-artist.
  • xNormal does use the correct tangent basis, but is a bit tricky to set up. Biggest letdown was the lack of supersampling in xNormal, which leads to artifacts on baked maps. Max has no issue due to samplers like 2.5 Star or Hammersley. Santiago from xNormal did tell me he’s going to add supersampling in the next release!

In conclusin: big ups for Santiago, he’s areally great guy and it’s not the first time he’s been really helpfull and responsive to me. On the other side, boo on Autodesk for not fixing this issue for … years!

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