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How do you get your Lightmaps?

I’m curious how people typically get their lightmaps.

I know Unreal Engine 4 has it’s own UV calculator for them, but how does that compare these days to doing them by hand? At least for inorganic surfaces (walls, etc)?

I still do them by hand since I’m pretty fast with Unwrapping in max, but the tedium wears me down.

So what do you guys do for your lightmap creation?

Little bit of both it really depends on the model

When do you typically do one vs the other? If I may ask.

Hi,

I would really strongly advise you to always always unwrap your meshes yourself, if it is more complex than a box! There is no way that an algorithm will produce a better lightmap than an artist who knows how to do it. Yes, it is really tedious process but having a good quality and efficient lightmap is essential for baking so you should take your time with it.

Here is a very good guide from Epic about lightmap considerations:

We use UE4 generated lightmap uv’s for 99% of content.

Then you are certainly wasting UV space and the possibility to get the most out of the tecnhnique.

As ligthmapping is almost an art in itself, with a lot of considerations involved, a skilled artist is undeniably a better choice than an algorithm in most cases.

Unreal’s auto-Unwrap is a really decent one though, so for simple and less important assests it can save valueable time. I am not saying that you can’t get nice looking results with the auto-method, you can, but I’m saying that you could have even better results with the proper effort put in it.

For problematic meshes we use artist authored uv’s. We have really small team with only two artist and we need thousands assets. It’s all about time savings.

I mean - personally I do my own UVs. Have for years.

I find it therapeutic … then it gets to a point where it’s just raw tedium.

I always try to do it myself, the automatic generation just doesn’t do a good job. Also remember that the UE4 generation uses the UV seams that your mesh already has, so if the UV’s aren’t split up much beforehand then it can’t do anything with it.