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My target output is low poly md2 and low poly dae files. I'm using the high-poly normal map to low-poly object trick.

Looking for a way to bake a final texture that combines the look of the normal map and the color texture into a single image.

Been trying many things. Been having many failure.

Any clues on if this is even possible? I know md2 are ancient. But that is my target.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think a normal map can get by with just red and green channels, as blue always exports at 0.5 I think (correct me if I'm wrong) This makes it easy to recreate a normal map from just red/green channel information. This way, you have the blue channel to pack your diffuse texture, and you could probably use the alpha as well if you enable it. $\endgroup$ Jul 12 '20 at 22:04
  • $\begingroup$ I don't have any control over the gaming engine rendering. It doesn't have normals. It just has a single surface graphic. I was hoping to borrow the detail from the high poly model into the low poly that is used in the actual engine by baking the normal map and the color map into a single image. $\endgroup$
    – Claude
    Jul 13 '20 at 23:00
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    $\begingroup$ In blender, you could plug the normal map into an Ambient Occlusion node and then use the Ambient Occlusion node to darken cavities in your color map by using a MixRGB node and setting it to Multiply, which would give the illusion of highs and lows in just your colour map without the need of a Normal Map. You just need to bake the new color map to export it with your mesh after that. If this sounds like something that might work, then let me know and I'll make an answer here with images. $\endgroup$ Jul 18 '20 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ It would be nice if you show the example (image?) of what you wish. $\endgroup$ Jul 19 '20 at 1:03
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    $\begingroup$ @MarkJackson ah, thank you, don't you wanna create a full answer with example? $\endgroup$
    – vklidu
    Jul 22 '20 at 10:01
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I'm just answering this because the bounty is almost up and so far there are no accepted answers.

As others have mentioned above, it is possible to bake the "simulated height data" in the form of Ambient Occlusion from a Bump Map being multiplied into the BaseColor.

EXAMPLE:

I made an image of a sphere as it will eventually (truly) be - smooth with no real height data.

PlainImage

I then took the same sphere and added "height" information provided by a Noise Texture and a Bump Node.

PlainBump

From here, you can "add" (multiply) that data to the BaseColor by using an Ambient Occlusion Node.

PlainAO

Before baking, make sure your object has unwrapped UV's As per the baking process, create a new image, un-check "use alpha" but DO check "32 bit float". Make sure the image is at least 2K (2048x2048).Load the image as a new image texture and have it selected (but not attached) in the material graph for the object.

NewImage

Then, making sure you're in Cycles, under the Render Properties tab, and under "bake" Set bake type to "diffuse" (since you only need one color image), and click to de-select Direct, and Indirect influence, leaving only Color selected. I also recommend lowering the margin size. Hit the bake button when ready.

BakeSettings

Once the bake is complete, go to the UV tab and select "Image > save" to save your image.

SaveImage

You can then load and connect it as a basecolor as you would normally.

The final result looks like this - note the only texture attached is the new BaseColor containing the "impression" of the previous height information:

BakedConnect

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You can bake your final material into a single diffuse image. Assuming you have a final model with an UV map and material already set up for it, this is how you do it.

  1. In the Shader Editor, add an image node and create a new image at desired resolution. Make sure it remains selected! This will be the final baked output.
  2. In the Render Properties panel, change the render engine to Cycles and go to the Bake submenu.
  3. Press the Bake button, the default settings should be fine in your case.

Of course, this leads to very PS2 looking graphics, and you might or might not want to paint over it once exported.

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