How do I bake procedural normal?

Making a heated obsidian horse shoe. The problem is I want higher bump but then you start to see the geometry, individual faces, ruining smooth shading. Also, when I bake the normal, this geometry is baked with it. Why can’t I just bake the distortion pattern so I can apply this normal without geometry? What are good practices for normals like this?

horseshoe_normalhelp.blend (212.8 KB)

Not sure exactly what you’re trying to accomplish with the detail. If you’re using modifiers, it may be something to do with those, if you have defects. Or the geometry itself?

But with baking normal maps, some people tend to use a low-poly and high-poly version of the same model and bake one for the other. Or a duplicate of the model with certain details added/removed that you bake, then add the baked image to the original model.

This guy uses a low/high poly version of the same model as his example:

Well, the first question would be: why am I losing smooth shading with normal strength increase?

horseshoe_normalhelp_test.blend1 (1.1 MB)

See if this helps. I appended your model into a new scene (hence the extra light in the scene). I changed the node to a displacement instead of bump and plugged into displacement output. I also added a subdivision surface modifier. See if it’s what you need when you bake.

The “test” image is only 2048x2048, just fyi, you can create a higher res if needed.

You can prob use a couple of the math nodes (set to multiply), as an alternative to the displacement node. That way you could input your map range.

See main answer here for example pictures, using a single math node: