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I'm currently trying to bake normals using a depth map generated from a rigid body simulation I did featuring a few hundred coins -

enter image description here

The problem I'm encountering which I wasn't able to find anywhere else (potentially because my approach is flawed) is the presence of these noisy lines that run across the gradient of coins which don't lay flat, as seen here -

enter image description here

Baking the depth at a much higher resolution and baking the normals again doesn't eliminate the artifacts and only makes the lines more defined with the added detail—manually painting out all of these lines is obviously not an effective solution, and I'm interested to hear if there are ways of baking the normals without the presence of the lines that very obviously catch the light when applied to a surface.

I figure that the approach of converting a depth map to a normal map in this way may be fundamentally flawed and that's why I'm potentially running into this issue, but I'd like to hear any potential solution from anyone who has more experience in the area of baking. Thanks!

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    $\begingroup$ How did you create the depth map? $\endgroup$ Apr 7 '21 at 4:53
  • $\begingroup$ We need to know how you made the depth map, as well as everything you ever did to it in other apps, in order to tell you what you did wrong. Yes, if that .png is the depth map, it doesn't look great. (Maybe it spent some time as a .jpg and suffered .jpg compression artifacts?) The file itself would let us recreate the problem. However, you're always going to have artifacts from bump mapping when zoomed in to the pixel level. $\endgroup$
    – Nathan
    Apr 7 '21 at 4:59
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    $\begingroup$ Save bake as OpenEXR ... You need to save in a format that supports 32 bit depth in minimum. $\endgroup$
    – vklidu
    Apr 7 '21 at 6:26
  • $\begingroup$ The depth map was generated with an orthographic mist pass over the simulated pile of coins $\endgroup$ Apr 7 '21 at 7:21
  • $\begingroup$ EXR was what did it for me (bit depth of depth map), thanks a bunch @vklidu—you can make an answer if you choose that I can mark as the solution $\endgroup$ Apr 7 '21 at 7:25
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Your saved image doesn't have enough color informations.
Save baked pass in OpenEXR format that can save information in unclipped bit depth.

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