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Thread: Nodes and other people's pipelines?

  1. #1
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    Question Nodes and other people's pipelines?

    I've been avoiding nodes :embarrassed: because most of my work goes into other people's pipelines, and it's impossible to predict what will become of the models after that. Nodes won't export to transfer formats (afaik), but the results created with them are so impressive, it would be great to learn how to incorporate them into my workflow, if possible.

    Primary question is should I bake a surface texture but use more traditional methods for other surface controls (e.g., maps, settings) such as diffuse, specular, etc., or is there a more elegant way to move the entire solution into non-LW software? Is it possible to bake separate maps for diffuse, specular, bump?

    Mostly wondering if using the node editor is viable for my situation before jumping on the documentation and tutorials. Any insight or advice would be greatly appreciated. Tx!

  2. #2
    Super Member dwburman's Avatar
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    Yes, you can bake the diffuse, color (without shading), spec and reflection maps. You could bake the bump separately, by using black and white gradient that's based on the bump (I imagine) or bake out a normal map.

    For the first part, you can do it all in the Compositing Buffer Export tool (or Render Buffer Export in pre-LW11) in the Image Processing panel.

    For the bump channel, just set up your surface so it's 100% luminance and 0% diffuse (there are a couple of other ways to get shading-free effects).

    For the normal map, I tend to use one of Denis' nodes plugged into the Diffuse Shading input, but there's probably another way to do it. If you use his DP_Filter pack, you could probably bake the NM along with the other maps.

    Of course, in baking the maps, you lose any "interactive" surface features like stuff based on incidence angle and true SSS, but you can probably set those things up in the destination app.

    [edit]
    You can also use nodes for animation and deformations, both of which can also be baked, though you may need a 3rd party plug-in to bake motions.
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    Everything depends on what to do what ? It's to make compositing ? for real time? to send in another 3D program ?

    The nodes are not an obligation. And in the case of the baking must keep in mind that everything is link to incidence is a problem. The baking is to freeze a surface and not capture his reactions to the environment.

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    Thanks, guys; I really appreciate your input.

    DPToolkit looks like a great plugin(s)... Will probably follow your advice and download it. I just started using his Sunsky this week, and am really, really impressed by the improved light quality.

    Is it possible to specify resolution of the baked maps? Or is that locked to model size or some other factor? Or is it completely irrelevant?

    Areyos, you hit the nail on the head. I mostly model props, so rigging and deformation is not usually an issue, but I have no way of predicting how a client will use it, otherwise. This has been a big reason for avoiding node editor so far.

    It sounds like nodes are good for customizing to specific projects, but maybe not so good when you're not part of the production team(s) where the models will be used?

    Should I stick with uv maps and Photoshop?

  5. #5
    Super Member dwburman's Avatar
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    You can specify whatever resolution you need in the Camera Settings (assuming you're using the surface baking camera).

    You can still use nodes in your situation. You can, for example apply procedurals to your surface using nodes. You could use the ambient occlusion nodes or dp_kit's edge node or the 3rd party grit node to add shading in creases or on edges. You have a lot more control in the node editor than in the layer system, plus if you want to use the same procedural texture or image for something you don't have to jump in and out the layers panels for the different channels copying and pasting the layers. You can plug the same node into different channels. Even if you need to alter node's output (increase/decrease its strength or invert it), you simply need to run it through some other nodes first. Even if you do have to copy/paste the node because you need to make a fundamental change, you're still within the same panel, and not bouncing around between spec, reflection, diffuse, color, etc.

    You could use nodes (or even textures applied in the layer system) to bake out textures and patterns and stuff to mix in with your painted layers in Photoshop. For instance, You could procedurally add paint chips or rust on edges so you don't have to paint every single detail in Photoshop.

    That said, many people get along nicely with just the layer system and never touch nodes, but it is absolutely possible to use them in the creation of static textures.
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    Okay, you talked me into it. Actually, you gave the answer I was hoping for -- that node editor will allow for more complex surfaces without having to give customers multiple layers and alpha maps for each channel (that may or may not translate well). Once learned, the process should be more efficient than doing/tweaking everything in PS. The preview images should look better, but the textures can still be tossed if they don't suit the end user's needs. This is exciting news, even I am several years behind the curve and have a lot of catching up to do.

    Thanks so much for your help, it's very much appreciated.

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    For the baking the easiest is to go through the "Surface Baking Camera" type and indicate the desired resolution as Dana says.

    In this case it's better focus on a UV Map and actually the baking. What counts more finally is topology: the polycount and the polyflow.

    The nodes are an add-in. They can go further and have new opportunities. It of flexibility and power.

    This isn't a question of good or bad choice, but rather of understanding. Under surfaces Node Editor doesn't replace the Editor Surface, brings it new possibilities. To start it's better master classical settings.

    You can do the baking of nodes. But knowing paint textures will be essential to continue. Use the nodes or not does not change anything, have Photoshop (or equivalent) make the UV and manage the seams (and related problems). However it's nice to have a 3D painting software. A good complement LightWave and Photoshop is 3D Coat:
    http://3D-coat.com/buy-now/

    You can start with an EDU license for learn, can do the upgrade later.

  8. #8
    You might want to try PB Texture Baker which bakes texture and normal maps from modeler in many different resolutions. IMHO works better than surface baker in Layout and pretty darned FAST!

    Works great for hi and lo res geometry or just baking to uv maps. Thanks to Myagi and blytools.com for the free plugin.

    http://www.blytools.com/baker.html
    Last edited by digitaldoc; 12-30-2012 at 06:12 AM.
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    For non-commercial use, but the price is more than decent.

    But in this case include other tools:
    - xNormal (free)
    http://www.xnormal.net

    ShaderMap (paying but allows to mix Normal Maps as well as paint directly on it)
    http://shadermap.com

    -DK KIT (Free, including the Normal Baker)
    http://dpont.pagesperso-orange.fr/pl...l_Nodes_2.html

  10. #10
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    Thanks for sharing your considerable knowledge and experience, guys. I'm taking everyone's advice (including buying the [on sale!] educational version of 3d-Coat, since they opened it to everyone), and will try to sort out what works best for me, bearing in mind I also use Zbrush and just bought Filter Forge. Looks like there may be some overlap of features between some of them, but each is unique, too.

    I really appreciate the replies. Wishing you all a happy and prosperous New Year!

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