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  1. Baking Out Normal Maps in Zbrush for your Environmental Object There are many methods for baking normal maps. You can use 3ds Max or Maya's in house method with a cage, or you can use another software like Xnormal to get the usually the same result. Different people have different preferences, but the result is the same as long as the person baking the map knows the correct procedure. To save time and frustration, we will be baking our normal map for our trash bag in Zbrush. Along the way I will be showing you some tips and tricks for any problems that you may come across along the way. I fixed up the garbage bag a little since the last tutorial. If you see anything you would like to move around or resculpt on your own piece, now would be the time to do it. Go to your lowest geometry setting (Zbrush makes the normal based of the difference from the current setting and the highest) and click on UV Mapping. Depending on how good your unwrap is, the better your results will be. If you are not to happy with your unwrap later on (seams, stretching, etc.), you can go back into re-unwrap in Max or Maya, import it back into Zbrush under the same object you currently did the sculpting in, and turn the division level all the way back up so it picks up the work you have already done and you wont have to redo anything. It will just basically replace the unwrap and the turning up the division level is just to double check the work has been put on correctly. Going back to the backing out, Under UV Mapping select the size you want your map to be. Now under Normal Map, make sure all the first 4 options are turned on. Then just click Create NormalMap. If you plug in your normal map into your 3d engine and it seems backwards or somewhat off, rebake it with with Flip G. Now click on Clone NM to move your normal map to your texture panel. From there export it out as a PSD. Open your texture, because we saved it as a photoshop you can always make changed to your original. For some reason Zbrush flips the texture upside down so we have to manually flip it right side up. A good trick while working with normal maps especially in 3ds Max is to clone the layer and then give the top layer an Overlay layer mode. It helps the map read easier. Create a new standard material and add your image to your garbage bag ( Bump > Normal Bump > Bitmap). It will be very faint so under maps, turn up bump to a desired number, but try not to go past 100. If we make the bag completely black, we will not be able to see any of the work we have put into it. Give it a dark grey/charcoal color, it will still sell even better than pitch black. Also turn up the glossiness and specular level to around 30 depending on how clean or dirty your garbage bag is. Finally select your back using element mode and assign it to the same smoothing group (or click on auto smooth). This will just get rid of any hard edges. These bags are still missing their tops but in the next lesson we will go over how to create those. For now congratulation on baking normals in Zbrush and applying them.
  2. Sculpting Environmental Objects For Your Scene After creating the garbage bag from the tutorial that can be found here, it's time to get some detail into the plain blob mesh we have created. We want it to look realistic and clean. To often we put to much emphasis into the small detail that it becomes the only thing noticeable of the object. This tutorial will help show how the detail comes naturally with most works and only needs the artist fine tuning. First thing we need to do is a simple unwrap. After you finish your unwrapamd convert it into an editable poly again, export the basic mesh we have created as an OBJ so we can import it into Zbrush. After bringing your garbage can into Zbrush, reassign it the MatCap Gorilla texture, just to make it easier to visualize. Also sub-divide (ctrl + D) it 3 time. Now get the Clay Buildup brush and while holding the alt key, start stroking down about halfway with a fairly large brush. After making it all the way around, increase your brush size and do the same for the middle but instead of stroking down, stroke to the side and diagonally. If you look at a trash bag, it is mostly planes, although what you notice is the lines going all over it. We are making the lines right now without forcing them, causing them to look as natural as possible. By holding down Shift to active your smooth tool, smooth out all those little wrinkles that make the bag seem like dried Play Doh instead of the garbage bag we are going for. Going back to your standard brush and decreasing your brush size to about 5, start to help define the existing lines that are already there by sculpting right over them. After doing 4 or 5, go up one more sub-division and sculpt in some smaller ones and a few for detail. At the bottom of your bag, use your standard brush to go 360 around with it. Once completed use the Clay Buildup to smooth it out on the sides, smooth it out when completed. Fix anything you spot and the bag will be done. Click here to see how to bake the normal into the base mesh.