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Question

Is there an efficient way to create images (height maps) in Blender so that they can be used as alphas in other applications like Substance Painter? If so, what's the proper way to do it? Preferrably without having to uv-unwrap.

What I tried

I tried various settings and came up with this, but it doesn't seem to be right for everything and I hope there's a more efficient way. Here are the changes I did on the default blend file:

* delete lamp

* camera 

    object
        transform
            reset location / rotation / scale, then set location z to 2
        data
            lens
                orthographic
            orthographic
                scale: 2

* render    

    resolution
        x: 2048 px
        y: 2048 px
        percentage scale: 100%

    shading
        alpha mode
            transparent

* render layer

    solid: true, all else: false (especially sky or else you'd get some grey background)

* scene

    color management
        display device: none

* object

    set scale to 0.5 for x/y/z

    material
        shading
            shadeless: true

    texture
        type: blend
        colors
            ramp: true
            color stop: set alpha from 0 to 1
        blend
            progression: linear or quadratic, depends on the effect you want
            vertical: true

    mapping
        coordinates: generated
        mapping
            X: Z
            Y: Z
            Z: Z

* select object

    apply -> rotation

And then render the image and save it.

Here are the settings as graphics:

Camera:

enter image description here

Scene:

enter image description here

Object:

enter image description here

Using a cylinder as object:

enter image description here

And the final alpha / height map:

enter image description here

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Why changing Color Management display device to None? Maybe related question - blender.stackexchange.com/q/46620/1245 $\endgroup$ – Mr Zak Mar 29 '17 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ "None" was only the summary of all tutorials I went through. I tried your link. It's better, but that method has its flaws / bugs. Very basic example: Use a plane. You'll get a white area with a black dotted diagonal line. Tried it with all public variations of 2.78. $\endgroup$ – Roland Mar 30 '17 at 5:52
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I finally found a good, working and as it turns out easy solution to this problem. Credits go to Petr Utinek, he made a tutorial video here.

The steps (I modified them a bit):

  • Create a mesh, e. g. a gear and switch to Top Ortho view

enter image description here

  • Select the camera, hit space, search "Align Camera to View" and apply it
  • Select Render tab, change resolution to 2048x2048 and 100%

enter image description here

  • Select Data, Orthographic and adjust the Orhtographic Scale

enter image description here

  • Select the Mesh and assign a Material to it
  • Select Node Editor, Compositing and Use Nodes
  • Add a Normalize Node and an Invert Node and link the nodes like this:

enter image description here

  • add a Plane below the Mesh

enter image description here

  • Render the scene and save the image

enter image description here

  • Or to follow the initial question: Easy to re-use by simply e. g. deleting the gear and replacing it with a cylinder

enter image description here

which will result in this

enter image description here

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