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Tutorial: Global Illumination Texture Baking & Lightmapping in Maya

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 | Posted by Leonard Teo | 5 comments

How to bake global illumination and ambient occlusion to textures in Maya.

I recorded a quick tutorial on doing texture baking for games in Maya. In this video, I go through how to bake out ambient occlusion on characters, and global illumination for a level. The resulting textures can then be used to create greater realism in a very ‘cheap’ way in the game engine. This is by no means a new technique, but still a good one to know.

If you’re using a game engine like Unity or Unreal, these engines already have advanced lighting such as lightmapping and screen-space ambient occlusion, which will get you very good results. Some of these implementations even have dynamic global illumination. If you have access to those tools and your target platform supports it, definitely go down that route. The technique presented in this video is still good if you need basic pre-computed lighting and shadows.


Leonard Teo


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5 responses to “Tutorial: Global Illumination Texture Baking & Lightmapping in Maya”

  1. chienyih said:

    hey leornard thanks for the sharing, but there is just 1 question I got when you did the occlusion baking, when you assigned it to the subsurface shader, hm how does the subsurface shader help in the occlusion baking?

    8:29 pm on Tuesday, December 14, 2010

  2. Leonard Teo said:

    @chienyih – hmmm you’ve got a really good point and I think I made a mistake in the video as I thought you had to apply the shader to the object to do the AO bake. I usually just apply that shader so that I can visualize the AO before I bake it. But you’re right, you can actually just use the baking panel without applying the shader. Thanks for bringing that up. Now I know. 🙂

    8:36 pm on Tuesday, December 14, 2010

  3. glenda said:

    Me gusta el 3d

    8:37 pm on Sunday, April 8, 2012

  4. Pat said:

    Hey Leonard thanks for the tutorial.

    I have a question, probably not directly related to your tut – wonder if you could help out.

    If I have a certain render setup, in my case lets say a standard Skydome lit scene and i want to use that light setup to do a texture bake, what would be my render setup. I tried it using your technique above, however I still only seem to get the standard occlusion information.

    Is there a way in maya we can simply bake out any render setup we have… not particularly just GI or just Occlusion?

    Thanks in advance

    9:20 am on Friday, May 18, 2012

  5. Ben Hearn said:


    Brilliant tutorial! Helped so much with my final year project was just wondering if you are on linked in?

    5:48 pm on Saturday, June 23, 2012

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