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I've been working on some game models lately, and I was wondering if the smoothing shading is gonna be an issue?

enter image description here

I was wondering: do I have to use autosmooth or sharp edges and make it look better? Because I've seen some people doing that and others don't care about it. What's the right way to proceed for the best result? I'm gonna bake normals and texture the model in substance painter, in case the info is relevant. Obviously, the high poly model shading looks ok after with a subdivision surface modifier.

Hopefully I've been clear!

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  • $\begingroup$ If that's for tileable object like panel (from screenshot looks like it isn't) then yes use smoothing groups / hard edges and don't use normal maps. If you are going to bake details from highpoly into normal map then it doesn't matter, normal map will handle with shading $\endgroup$
    – Mr Zak
    Feb 24 '19 at 22:52
  • $\begingroup$ oh great, that's what I needed. As long as I apply normal maps to the low poly, they will handle it and it will look good. Great. $\endgroup$
    – Raio Boss
    Feb 24 '19 at 23:21
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If you get the bakes that looks good they should be fine. If it's a glossy surface then you can get stair casing in the normals where they are nearly flat since 8-bit reproduces only a limited number of angles. The simplest way is to add hard edges the windows edge to make it perfectly flat.

Triangulate meshes before baking them. Software does not always agree how to split the faces so it's good to make sure you decide.

You should avoid thin triangles. Thin triangles can act as a hard edge since they usually don't get enough pixels to bend where normals changes. Perfectly flat surfaces with no normal changes can handle thin triangles though.

Separate all hard edged faces on separate UV-islands and give them enough margin. If they are to close they might fight over the pixels. Remember that mip-maps will be in lower resolution.

Align bevels and other details with pixels where possible. Prioritise sharper bevels.

Give detailed areas of your mesh a bit more UV space so the smaller triangles will get what they need.

You can get distortions and other artefacts where the normals bends but I think it's better if you encounter them, figuring out way they appear and how to mitigate them.

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  • $\begingroup$ But I was wondering if there's simply THE right way to do it.. marking sharp edges give a completely different smoothing effect, so i guess the results would be different, and probably one would be wrong.. unless substance painter takes into consideratino the high poly (and smoothed) model and reflects that onto the low poly one? $\endgroup$
    – Raio Boss
    Feb 24 '19 at 22:33
  • $\begingroup$ When you bake, the normals get transferred from the high poly to the low polys normal texture. The bake ray traces from the low poly using its normals so the result will not be completely the same if you use hard instead of smooth edges. But you need to figure out what works best for each problem. I might get your question wrong... do you have a more specific problem? Screenshot? $\endgroup$
    – Jackdaw
    Feb 25 '19 at 0:00
  • $\begingroup$ I've ran some tests, and it makes a difference indeed. Sometimes not too obvious, other times it kinda ruins the shading. Thx anyway $\endgroup$
    – Raio Boss
    Feb 27 '19 at 16:35
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Yes, you should use smoothing (in particular smoothing groups) and hard edge techniques to get good results, whenever you don't bake from high poly objects.

The reason for this is that Blender exports the normals in every export format that is suitable for Substance Painter. You should always try to create your model in Blender as close as possible to the desired result. It saves a lot of time and headache.

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  • $\begingroup$ "whenever you don't bake from high poly objects." <-- so, if I want to bake normals from an high poly object to a low poly one, technically I would not need to make edges sharp and get a good looking smooth in the viewport? $\endgroup$
    – Raio Boss
    Feb 24 '19 at 23:19
  • $\begingroup$ It's not necessary for flat areas but you still might get better results if you create additional edge loops in the more obvious parts of the mesh. $\endgroup$ Feb 25 '19 at 1:40
  • $\begingroup$ yeah either adding edge loops or marking sharp help a lot $\endgroup$
    – Raio Boss
    Feb 27 '19 at 16:34

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