SimpleBake - Simple Pbr And Other Baking In Blender 2.8

SimpleBake is a baking add-on for Blender. Its party piece is baking PBR maps from Bender materials (for export to other applications and services), but it also bakes all of the “traditional” Cycles baking modes, as well as a number of special maps. It aims to be the definitive baking solution for Blender 2.8, making baking possible with one-click (and not 100s).

It has been available on Blender Market and Gumroad coming up to 9 months now, and has around 500 happy* users (particularly game developers and Sketchfab… enthusiasts?). It is also a recognised Sketchfab up-laoder.

*See the Blender Market reviews

As some of the best features of SimpleBake have come from user feedback and discussion, I’ve been meaning to start a BA thread now for quite a while. This is me finally getting around to it! :slightly_smiling_face:

Available on Blender Market ($10)

General Features (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 (beware other add-ons that claim to bake PBR maps - do they support multiple shaders?). 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.

  • 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)

2 Likes

Version 4.5.0

  • Fulfilling a long standing user request, this version brings total control over the naming of bake files (to allow for different studios having different preferences). Check out the SimpleBake add-on preferences and the screenshot below
  • Introduced a basic “per material” bake option for Cycles. This will be developed further in time
  • Improved Sketchfab upload. This is now based on existing bakes for selected objects. Should be more reliable
  • Re-worked the automatic update checking function as it was blocking Blender starting up when internet connection was present but unreliable
  • A number of small bug fixes and enhancements

Version 4.6.0

Brings some initial channel packing functionality.

Only one option for now - Roughness/Glossy packed into the alpha channel of the Metalness texture. I will add more options and build this out over future releases. For now, this function should be considered beta.

Blender mangles PNG output (I have looked hard for a solution to this, but not found one), so only EXR files are supported.

Update SimpleBake via the automatic update in the add-on preferences as usual. Let me have any feedback via Blender Market.

Version 4.8.1

Finally brings the ability to bake int he background. Fire off as many background bakes as you like (more accurately, as your computer can handle) and import the results when done. This is the biggest change to SimpleBake for quite a while and certain elements like Sketchfab upload now work differently.

Also added an option to run CyclesBake images through the compositor de-noiser when saving.

Version 4.5.5 of SimpleBake is a small update that adds the options to bake DirectX normal maps as well as glossy maps (inverted roughness).

This is a trial run for some of the new code that will eventually provide the channel packing functionality that I have been discussing with current users.

Available as auto-update as usual.

image

Thank you for making this add-on :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

Awesome addon, it’s unbelievable how it’s making the baking process so simple!

Just a few suggestions:

  • When exporting a mesh, the FBX name should be the name of the object by default, not “Export”.
  • Give us the possibility to reduce the verbosity of the textures’ names to a minimum by removing the “batch name” (when left blank there is a double underscore) and the “_ pbr_”. Ideally, it should be very simple : MeshName_TextureName
  • Small typo in the addon prefs (certian instead of certain)

Also could you add these Special maps?

  • Position (All axis: bakes the position on the XYZ axis in the RGB channels)
  • Position (One axis: bakes a single axis at user’s choice in a greyscale gradient)
  • World Space Normal

Thanks.

Hi

Thanks very much for the feedback! I am glad that you are enjoying SimpleBake.

The default can’t be the object name, as the user may be exporting several objects to one FBX. I may change the default to be the file name instead… I will have a think.

You can already do this. You have complete control over the names given to textures in the add-on preferences. You can drop the batch name, you can drop the “pbr”… you can format it however you want. Every user wants to name the textures differently (e.g. following their studio’s standard) so I went for total control in this regard.

You are looking for this in the add-on preferences. You want to change the format string:

Thanks, will fix.

Yep, I can look at adding these in an upcoming version.

Cheers!

Ah ok, got it.

You’re right, I didn’t pay attention to that one…

Thanks a lot for considering! After that it will be complete :wink:

Also what will be in the Channel Packing? Just being curious…

Version 4.5.8 adds the ability to bake subsurface and subsurface colour maps (following a user request).

image

Hi @Belistner

You think you could also add a Height map (greyscale map to be baked from a high poly sculpt to a low poly mesh)?

Does this tool respect the ‘clear image’ flag from the regular Blender baking rollout? I’m currently baking in Textools, but it ignores the ‘clear image’ checkbox. I badly need the ability to additively bake multiple objects sharing the same UV sheet to the same texture map. Thanks.

Will this tool bake Alpha from multiple textured objects such as leaf cards on a tree to another mesh? I saw you list this as being mutually exclusive on your gumroad, but will your tool be able to do it if all the cards are combined into one mesh?

I would like to transfer alpha from multiple continuous poly meshes (combined into a single object) to a single mesh as a bake target and be able to layer the full opacity parts of the texture and discard the transparent parts. The final alpha map should look like a solid white cluster of leaves without any black being baked down as if each individual leaf alpha was layered with an add blend mode…

In PBR Bake mode(the addon’s default and recommended bake) it replaces the image every bake, I don’t think it uses the Bake tab settings. In Cycles Bake mode it doesn’t appear to respect the Clear Image checkbox.

I really like how easy this bake addon is to use though! Default baking is so mysterious and painful.

Thanks. That’s disappointing to hear. The clear image option is very useful.
Baking is actually deceptively simple in Blender. A bit unorthodox, but simple.

Can you point to a reference to learn how? SimpleBake is letting me bake a normal map with the bevel node for a single object which is exactly what I wanted. I’d still like to know how to do it without any addons and everything I find is about baking high to low poly.

edit: Figured it out on my own and you’re right, it is deceptively simple!

After working with this some more, you can bake multiple objects to a single image just not the way I expected. You just have to turn off Use Alpha(which doesn’t seem to work in the standard bake mode anyway, I always get a full image of empty normals where there aren’t islands) and then you can check “Multiple objects to one texture set” and select all the objects. Then click Bake.

Good to know. Sorry, I’ve just seen your post. :+1:

Thanks. So the ‘use alpha’ is the same as the ‘clear image’, but the “Multiple objects to one texture set” will bake all objects on after the other automatically without ray casting intersections between objects that are beside one another?

“Use Alpha” says it’s supposed to “Baked images have a transparent background (else Black)” except it doesn’t seem to work, I haven’t been able to get transparency out of SimpleBake.

“Multiple objects to one texture set” appears to bake all selected objects as you said. Here’s a simple example so you can see if it’s what you need. The interior cut out in the cube is a separate object but they’ve been baked together. Note the lack of bevels on the edges of the face that contains the cutout.

I think the reason why you can’t “Use Alpha” and “Multiple objects to one texture set” is because Blender doesn’t currently allow the Python API to create images with a 0.0 alpha. However, last night I added the functionality to Blender and I’m going to submit a patch today.

There seems to be one potential issue with SimpleBake that may cause trouble: It always limits the sample count to 16 and I haven’t found a setting to change it.

Thanks. Ah yes, sorry. It’s the same use alpha from the texture creation menu. I thought it was the addon’s implementation of the ‘clear image’ feature. I really hoped the ‘clear image’ feature worked because it’s useful for changing the bevel sizes on the fly and just composite bake all the parts. Otherwise we have to create multiple materials or set up a node tree for varying bevels and then explode bake. Hopefully the dev will reply here.

If you mean the Cycles sample count I always set the to 16 anyway. There’s no need to go higher for clean bakes.

Can you explain how you use Clear Image with a more detailed example? I’m looking at the source code for the addon and for Cycles bake, it always unchecks Clear Image. However, it’s super simple to change the code to not touch the flag if it’s running a Cycles Bake.

Let’s say I have an asset with 20 parts to bake, all on the same UV sheet, and all geometry is touching and rays will intersect. So I have to either explode all the objects so the raycaster doesn’t hit neighbouring objects and bake them in one go, or I can select groups of objects manually, that aren’t touching, and bake them consecutively, and once I uncheck ‘clear image’ after the first bake all subsequent bakes will just layer on top of the first and be composited to the same image texture. So clear image is very useful for this workflow.