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26-08-2011, 03:00 AM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 78
Work Flow High Poly/Low Poly
Okay, I'm a little lost in my work flow.

I would like to start doing normal maps on my models. I got the concept down and I understand how it works (mostly!).

I am curious on your workflow to create high poly models to create normal maps to apply to the low poly models.

I'm a little confused on one part. If I create a high poly model in ZBrush or Mudbox for example, then export the normal maps into the low poly - won't it look funny because the UVs aren't the same?

My thought process is this, but please correct me if something is amiss or there's a way to simplify the procedure so I'm not wasting a lot of time.
  • Create low poly in Maya
  • UV Unwrap Low Poly
  • Export model into Zbrush or Mudbox
  • Create High Poly model
  • Export Normal Map
  • Export Model
  • Edit Normal Map in Photoshop if needed
  • Create Textures in Photoshop
  • Import High Poly Model
  • Use Displacement Map from High poly model to Low Poly model
  • Apply texture and Normal map to Low Poly

How long does it normally take you to complete the process of a simple model - such as a bed headboard for example (didn't pull that out of my hat, as I was working on it today). To me, it seems awfully a long time just to do one model. Perhaps I'm not experienced enough to be faster at low poly modeling?

I was thinking about removing the bevels, and allow the Normal map do the "curvature". I see so many models that were Low Poly, with sharp edges, yet, when it's rendered, it's so smooth and has a small curve as if it was beveled.
There's no extra edge loops around the edges. How do I do that?! It can't be mia_roundedcorners material...

Is it done in Zbrush/Mudbox? I am assuming that it's all done from Normal Maps. I want to be sure that I'm right or wrong, that way I don't have to worry so much on having a high poly count.
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10-02-2012, 08:07 PM   #2
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Location: Netherlands
Posts: 188
i'm learning normal mapping too though i have Z i don't use it because it's complicated for me. bad excuse i know

my workflow [if I used Z like you did]

make simple block mesh in 3d program
export as obj and open in Z
make high poly
export high poly to obj and open in 3d program
break down high poly to make the low poly OR MAKE a mesh very similar to the low
unwrap low
bake high to low using xnormal, nDo2, etc
apply normal to low and preview in high quality renderer
using low unwrap, texture it in photoshop
apply texture to model

good to go i think
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10-02-2012, 08:31 PM   #3
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I think you have to drop down the sub divions in zbrush then export low poly mesh with normal maps..............dave

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10-02-2012, 10:21 PM   #4
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Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,710
dave is right the low level mesh from Zbrush back into Maya and also make sure you uncheck Create Multiple Objects or you may have problems with vertex reordering.
There are several work flows you can use from Zbrush, you can make the normal map in Zbrush and export it or you can export both the high and low level models and use Transfer Maps in Maya to create a normal map, alternatively you can use both the high and low obj's with Xnornal (separate app) to create them.

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11-02-2012, 02:43 AM   #5
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jsprogg and dave are right. I ended up using Xnormals as it was MUCH easier to get results and was less quirky than Maya...give it a go...its a life saver.

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