I don’t think there is only one answer that is right. It depends on your workflow. I’ll show you mine. It might look overly complicated but it just uses a few relatively simple game industry methods. I just put that out here. Feel free to comment or give any suggestions. Maybe there is a better way to do things.
In Arch Vis we have:
- mostly clean tiling materials, no grudge or wearing off in most cases.
- A lot of repetitive materials like stainless steel, fabrics or types of wood
The standard “vray” object is adapted to this by having multiple IDs and is high poly with geometry instead of baked normals and AO. But that isn’t great for real time or unreal engine assets for multiple reasons:
- high polygon/vertex amount obviously takes longer to render
- multiple ID’s take longer to render and can in some cases be worse than having high poly objects
- light maps are much more difficult to create for high poly objects.
So my approach is the following.
- I use functions for all repetitive tiling materials like wood or fabric, chrome, rubber and so on. Functions are snippets of nodes that can be reused in materials. You can expose parameters like color tint or UV scaling which need to be changed for different objects. But in general the oak and fabric materials used for the table can be the same as the ones used for the chair.
- Instead of material ID’s I use masks to separate the materials. Look at a RGB texture being 3 grey-scale masks, plus alpha makes it 4 layers. Then you still have a 5th layer which is the base layer with no masking
- I do bake normal maps and AO. I use one layer (green) of the above for the AO. Which leaves me with up to 4 materials.
Because I use masking I do not really have a diffuse map for most objects. The normal map and mask can be fairly low resolution (2048 mostly) and you can put many assets onto the same atlas if they use the same materials. Like a couch set, kitchen cabinets in multiple sizes. Anything in the same style really.
It’s initially a bit more work but I don’t repeat anything and I don’t have to set up the materials for 5 or more similar objects. At the end it saves a lot of work especially if material instances and variations are required. And the detail can be very high where it matters: - in the actual tiling material (layer) because it is tiling and not limited to the UV space.