Here I’ll use the Walkman F-75 I recently made to walk you through the process of making the model ready for Quixel Suite.
We can use whatever program we want to bake normals, AO, and other important maps, that transfer a variety of information from our high res mesh to our target mesh.
A material ID map is used to segregate our model into different materials that can be assigned later while texturing.
I typically like to bake my ID map in Xnormal. As a result, I need to extract the high poly out of 3dsmax along with vertex color information stored. A filetype that does this is Xnormal’s own .SBM filetype that has various export options including vertex color. Assign different colors to parts of the mesh that correspond to real-world materials; in this case I mainly want plastics, metals, rubber.
It’s also fine to assign different colors to parts of your mesh that are technically the same type of material, separating them based on scale, color toning or other reasons.
I then export the low res (target) mesh and its associated cage and I’m now ready to bake.
As with all other maps, I set the bake quality to 4k, maximum AA, and 16bit tiff filetype.
For the other maps, I use Knald to bake the tangent normals, object normals, ambient occlusion, cavity and curvature, since Knald allows for ultra-fast Ambient occlusion baking, based on how good the GPU is.
Some parts like patterns and text are annoying or a waste of time to model on the high poly. Ndo is a great way to easily add these details to the baked normal map, using Mix→Normal to nDo.
Once we’ve got all the bases covered, we can assemble the maps and mesh and form a 16Bit project in Ddo. The export target is set to toolbag2 since that’s where the model is ending up.
We can let Ddo bake the curvature which is a great feature since it will contain the additional detail added during the nDo stage where we modified the normals.
Once the Ddo project is created, we can start the texturing process. Before starting however, we should add any additional maps useful to the final result, in this case, we would want an Opacity map for the transparent parts, and an Emissive map for the lights on the cassette player.
We can now start applying materials and weathering. In this case we segment Ddo texturing into four steps that also correspond to the layering of these elements (4 being top-most).
Ddo comes with plenty of Smart materials, basically folders that contain a base material along with material-specific weathering or detailing layers, so we can use this to cover steps 1 and 3. As we add these groups, we assign them to corresponding areas in our model with the help of our ID map to mask these folders accordingly. One way to do this is through the 3D viewer that DDO opens when you make a project:
Once basic materials are applied, feel free to start adding decals where you need them. DDO communicates pretty well with Photoshop in the sense that you can add New Layers anywhere you want in the layer stack, either through DDO’s UI or in Photoshop directly. Depending on what the decal is:
Try to apply base materials with weathering on top (even scratches) and try to avoid base materials that have areas masked to show a core material underneath. A recurring example to avoid is having a paint material with a distressed mask that reveals a core metal material underneath, for wear and tear. Even though this physically makes sense, it’s better to have your Paint material at the bottom of the stack, with metal scratches applied on top. This will speed up the process, as you add decals in between these two materials, the wear-and-tear effects all the way down to scratches on the paint will automatically mask and “weather” your decals.
As you start to add weathering, of course, it’s very easy to start spamming wear effects from the preset library, but you can also experiment and sometimes avoid the presets, and see what effect you want to add based on feel:
Once you are satisfied with the texturing, you are ready to export your different channels. Just click on Save Maps and send those over along with the mesh to your renderer of choice, in this case Marmoset Toolbag 2.