Baking Lights For Static Lighting In 3Ds Max

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While making a game, optimisation is one of the most important things that the studio must care. There are various ways to avoid this problem like reducing the poligons, reducing the particle effects details, creating level of detail(LOD) or creating static lights. I will explain how to bake the lights to create  static lights in this post.

Basically the static lighting is to create a texture map for objects or environment by baking the effect of the light source on this objects. After we use this baked texture on the objects, we do not need to create a light source in the scene. Even in AAA games, the static lights are commonly used to maximize the performance.

For this tutorial I created this simple scene which contains two boxes and a ground. Then I arrange their UV’s by adding Unwrap UVW modifier as you can see below. This step is important because we need to make sure there must be no overlap.

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After packing the UV’s correctly, the scene is ready to bake. Press “Render To Texture” below “Rendering” menu.

Hotkey is “0” by default in 3Ds Max 2014.

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It opens the Render To Texture settings as you can see below. It automatically adds the selected object to the Objects to Bake list. In the picture it is Box002.

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Below Output rollup press Add… button and select DiffuseMap in popup which appeared. For this example we need to add only DiffuseMap.

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After selection, it will be added into Output list. And below the list there are some render settings. The  size of “1024” is fine for this scene but keep in mind that texture sizes is a part of optimization as well.  Because, while too big decreases the performance, too low decreases the quality.

Another important thing is enabling lighting and shadows. They can be enabled by clicking the ticks which is inside the “Selected Element Unique Settings tab” as you can see I marked with red square. Then press render button at the bottom of the window. You should do the same steps for each object in your scene to have baked texture.

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When I baked textures of my scene the result is like below. Shadows, highlights and midtones can be seen on textures.

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I added the textures to the objects with %100 self-illumination and I took this render. There is no light source in this scene. Graphics are almost the same but performance will be dramatically increased in huge scenes.

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