As a learning project, I've been modeling the Albion Laird sword. I've got a rather high polygon mesh. Since I plan using this mesh on a game prototype, I've created a lower resolution mesh, with the same proportions as the original, so I could bake the high normals into a texture for the simpler mesh. Below are both meshes side-by-side:
Now, I've placed them both at the same location, unwrapped the low-res, selected the high-poly then the low-poly, baked "Selected to Active" tangent normal maps, just like this video, except I'm using Cycles.
I then attached the freestanding Image Texture on the shader's Normal input, and this was the result:
As you can notice, it looks nothing like the high-poly render and contains heavy artifacts. I assume this is due to the overlap in the handle area, but how can I circumvent that without distorting any of the meshes? Here's the high-poly render for reference: