After giving a try to xnormals i did a little comparison with the AO baking
- making a 1024x1024 baking in xnormal with its antialiasing set to 4x
- making a 4096x4096 baking in blender and rescaled to 1024x1024 in GIMP to emulate 4x antialiasing
Result : xnormals took easily more than 10x the time it took me to get the Blender 4096x4096 then rescale to 1024x1024 , and display a different result.
Here’s my low poly model i used (the AO baked was from the higher poly sculpt) , in which on the left i applied the Blender+Gimp obtained AO baking, and on the right the AO directly coming from xnormal
You can already see that the AO obtained with xnormal has actually more details than the AO from Blender+Gimp, very strong point for xnormal (disregard the color “banding” in each following screenshot, they’re there only because i compressed the pictures for easier upload, the original texture have no banding).
Now the textures themselves, the one from Blender+GIMP :
The one from xnormal in which you can indeed see there are more details (wrinkles by example on the faces are much more visible):
And if i didn’t use the 4096x then rescale trick, here’s the horribly aliased Blender 1024x1024 direct result :
(disregard the size of the textured bleed, i completely forget to increase it on the Blender baking)
Conclusion : if you want quality use xnormal there’s no contest, if you want speed use the Blender+Image rescale trick.