Baking Complex Materials

This guide details how to bake complex materials in 3DS Max (such as those used by V-Ray) in order to preserve their appearance when exporting to common interchange formats like FBX. This method can potentially change the UV coordinates and material channels on your model, so be sure to save a backup before following along.

Step 1

First, perform a test render of your scene to ensure your renderer is configured to correctly display the materials you wish to bake. Adjust settings as required.

Step 2

Select the objects in your scene which require baking.

Step 3

Select Rendering > Render To Texture, or use the shortcut key 0. 

Step 4

The Render To Texture Dialog will appear:

Step 5

In the General rollout, enter the file path where you’d like the baked textures to be saved.

Step 6

In the Objects To Bake rollout, scroll down to Mapping Coordinates, select Use Automatic Unwrap and set the Channel to 1 (or Use Existing Channel if you’re confident the object already has UV Mapping applied).

Step 7

In the Baked Material rollout, select Render to Files Only.

The other settings here are made redundant by this step, so don’t worry if yours differ.

Step 8

In the Output rollout, click the Add button.

Step 9

The list which appears will differ depending on your chosen renderer, but will generally contain similar elements:

Standard scanline (left) versus V-Ray (right).

Step 10

Select and add the following maps (either one at a time, or by selecting multiple with ctrl-click):

  • Diffuse  e.g. DiffuseMap/VRayDiffuseFilterMap/etc.
  • Specular/Gloss e.g. SpecularMap/VRayMtlReflectHighlightGlossiness/etc.
  • Normals e.g. NormalsMap/VRayNormalsMap/etc.
  • Height/Bump e.g. HeightMap/VRayBumpNormalsMap/etc.

If you are unsure about the choice between two or more similar-sounding maps, add both.

Step 11

Select the first map which now appears listed in the Output rollout and select a size of 2048x2048 (if greater detail is required: 4096 or 8192):

Step 12

Repeat the previous step for each of the other maps.

Step 13

Click Render.

Step 14

The baked textures should now be saved in the output location, and automatic unwrap modifiers will have been added to all of the processed meshes. The last step is to export the scene in FBX format with these changes applied. Save the FBX file alongside the baked textures so they can easily be transferred together.


If you spot an error or have any suggestions on how this workflow could be improved, please let us know.

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