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This is more of an art question but it's technical too. If the ambient occlusion is used to shade the most darker areas of the texture, can the diffuse be just one layer of texture than?

If ambient occlusion is going to add all the other colors by default, what exactly am I painting besides the primary color? Is there any reason I would ever need to paint a darker area?

I get confused when I paint textures because I'm reminded not to paint shadows or any darker areas.

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In animation and/or games environments, as the character or prop is going to be used under different and maybe unpredictable lighting setups, you can add or bake some ambient occlusion shadows to empower the depth of the textures even when the mesh isn't lit in optimal conditions. How much to use this "trick" is a matter of style and production choices.

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  • $\begingroup$ It's just very confusing when I paint textures. In programs like Substance Painter, the AO is actually merged with the diffuse texture which makes it even more confusing since it's auto generated. I've never had to paint something thinking I don't need shadows before.. It's already difficult to paint areas that are high in roughness. The only thing I can think of is just color the entire character 1 color and let the machines do the rest... But that can't be the case. $\endgroup$
    – Jimmy Lin
    Nov 8, 2021 at 20:32

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