Simplebake - Simple Pbr And Other Baking In Blender 2.8

by HaughtyGrayAlien in Scripts and Addons

NOTE: Version 4.0.2 brings the ability to bake in batches, and save bakes to a custom folder. Never accidentally overwrite your bakes again!  And bake a series of batches without having to move and rename files.

NOTE: Version 4.0.0 brings new "Specials" bake maps, including AO, Thickness, Curvature and Colour ID. More to be added over time (feel free to suggest some!).

NOTE: Version 3.0.0 brings a total UI redesign, a host of new UV mapping options as well as greater control over colour management! All updates are available for automatic install from within Blender.

NOTE: Version 2.5.0 now with the ability to upload directly to Sketchfab!

NOTE: Version 2.2.0 now with the option to bake ClearCoat and ClearCoat Roughness, as well as bake multiple objects to one target object. See the FAQ for details. Also the some bug fixes.

NOTE: Version 2.1.0 now with the option to automatically apply baked materials in Blender and more tweaks and bug fixes.

NOTE: Version 2.0 now available. Significant re-write of SimpleBake that adds new features and functionality. See revised features list below.

NOTE: Version 1.2 now available. HUGE performance increase. Baking more than 20x quicker.

NOTEVersion 1.1.1 now available. Includes support for materials that mix Emission and Principled BSDF. Lots of bugfixes

NOTEVersion 1.0.5 now available. Now includes mesh export (see below)

Introduction

SimpleBake is the definitive baking solution for Blender 2.8.

Blender 2.8 provides a very powerful way to create complex PBR materials by using nodes. However, what should be a simple process of baking and exporting these materials for use with other software or systems (Substance Painter, Second Life, Sketchfab, Unity etc.) is surprisingly difficult.

SimpleBake aims to address this problem. SimpleBake is an addon / tool that provides a one-click solution for baking PBR maps from materials created in Blender 2.8.

However, SimpleBake isn't just an add-on for PBR. You can easily bake all of the "traditional" Cycles bake modes, along with other kinds of specialist maps (Ambient Occlusion, Curvature, Thickness, Vertex Colours and Colour ID).

See below for a full overview of the features, and also check out the FAQs and ratings for more information.

**No special node groups or materials. No new workflow. Just simple baking**

Support and Development

SimpleBake is my only add-on, and gets 100% of my time. I am always looking for ways to improve SimpleBake, add features and make baking easier.

Hopefully you won't need it, however, if you do, support is fast and friendly. Just check the reviews!

Features

General (apply to all baking)

  • Keep doing what you are doing - No new workflow to learn. No special node groups or materials to use. No limitations on the complexity of your materials. Just simple baking based on your existing workflow.
  • Auto export (baked maps) – Automatically export baked maps to external files.
  • Auto export (mesh) – Automatically export your mesh to external files. The mesh will have materials applied that refer to your exported bake images, making importing it into another application or service easy.
  • Batch baking and folder organisation – Export your bakes and mesh to custom folders (created where you blend file is saved), and with custom batch names (which are included in the file names). Bake a complex scene in stages with ease, and never accidentally overwrite your baked maps again!
  • No limits on materials - Your object can have as many different materials as you want. SimpleBake will process them all.
  • Combine to one texture set - Bake multiple objects to a single texture set in exactly the same way was you bake anything else.
  • Smart UV handling - Use existing UVs, generate new UVs and generate atlas maps - whatever you need. Either restore your original UV maps after the bake, or leave the ones used for baking applied.
  • Copy and apply - Option to duplicate your objects and apply the baked textures right in Blender. Textures you have exported will be linked to the external files (see the next point)
  • External linking - Textures not saved externally will be linked to Blender internal images. Textures saved externally will be linked to the external file. Never again will you close Blender without saving images externally, only to open it later on and find all your bakes were lost.
  • Easy to use and well documented - SimpleBake is designed with simplicity in mind. It should "just work". Almost everything has a verbose tooltip. SimpleBake tries to catch every error, and explain to you what you are doing wrong, and how to fix it. Tips are displayed in the interface to avoid common "gotchas", or where you have selected options that may not work well together (e.g. baking multiple objects to one texture set with their existing UV maps). Also, check out the FAQs on Blender Market for some detailed information about baking and using SimpleBake.


PBR Bake Mode

  • Simple PBR baking - A one-click solution for baking all PBR maps (Diffuse, Metallic / Metal, Roughness, Normal, Transmission, Transmission Roughness, Clearcoat, Clearcoat Roughness, Emission Specular and Alpha). Just tick the ones that you need and SimpleBake will spit them out.
  • Use complex materials -Create your PBR materials in the usual way. Use multiple Principled BSDFs and Emission shaders to get the result you want. Use Mix Shader nodes to mix them together how you want. Use whatever input to those shaders that you want! Then bake. SimpleBake will make sense of it all. You are not limited.
  • Bake to target - Bake multiple objects to a single target object with ease. Options for ray distance and cage selection are included.
  • Sketchfab – Provide your Sketchfab API key to upload PBR models and textures to Sketchfab with one click. Textures will be automatically matched to materials in Sketchfab (though some manual adjustments may be required due to limitations in the Sketchfab API - see the FAQs).


Cycles Bake Mode

  • Traditional Baking - Bake any of the "traditional" Cycles bake modes (Combined, Roughness, Normal etc). SimpleBake will handle all the node setup and a tonne of other things that make baking in Blender a pain.
  • Colour Space - Choose your colour space for baked images. Choose whether or not to use this colour space in your exported files.


Specials Bake Mode

  • Special Maps - Bake a number of special maps including AO, Curvature, Thickness, Vertex Colours and Colour ID. More to be added soon.


Smaller Features Making all baking in SimpleBake just a little easier

  • Super fast - SimpleBake uses a number of techniques and optimisations to bake super fast and super accurately.
  • Texture size - Select your desired texture size with one click. Optimum bake margins are set automatically.
  • Export formats - Export images in a variety of file formats.
  • Alpha - Bake with or without alpha background.
  • Colour space and bit depth - Automatic handling of colour space and bit depth for optimal results (while also providing manual overrides if needed)


Limitations

I like to be upfront about any limitations. There is no point in mis-selling you something!:

  • For PBRBake, materials must be based around the Principled BSDF, Emission and Mix Shader nodes. You can't use other shaders (although, if you did, that wouldn't be a PBR material). Other than that, there are no limitations (e.g you can have as many as you like, mix them as you like and feed input into them however you like - see above). This does not apply to CyclesBake where materials can be literally anything.
  • Baking with alpha and the "Multiple objects to one texture set" option are mutually exclusive. It's one or the other, not both (though arguably you shouldn't need both...); and
  • While you definitely can use node groups in your materials, the actual shader nodes (i.e. the Principled BSDF, Emission and the Mix Shader nodes) currently must sit outside any node groups for SimpleBake to find them and work correctly. 

How to use

If you are anything like me, you'll know most of what you need to know by simply looking at the UI.

The screenshots below show the three modes of SimpleBake - PBRBake, CyclesBake and SpecialsBake. See the FAQs for more information.

PBR Baking

Cycles Baking

Specials Baking

You will find SimpleBake in the render settings tab in the properties panel.

To bake, select the objects you want to bake in the viewport, set your baking mode, select your options and then hit bake!

PBR Map Bake

Select the objects you want to bake, the maps you need and the extra options you want (including external save, image size etc.). After that, just hit PBR Map Bake, and watch it go.

Cycles Bake

The "traditional" modes of baking. This will bake as per whatever settings you have in the Cycles bake panel (usually the panel above SimpleBake itself). 

SimpleBake will still take care of setting up all the images and materials, cycling through all your selected objects, generating new UVs and saving externally (if you have selected those options).

Specials Bake

Select the specials maps that you want to bake. Then set your other settings (texture size, new UVs etc.) and hit bake.

Documentation

This Blender Market page, and the FAQs have become the de facto documentation for SimpleBake.

Please contact me via Blender Market if you have any difficulties or questions.