For my thesis I had to do a lot of normal and AO map baking.  I noticed I lost a lot of time basically just setting up meshes and exporting them, and changing settings in xNormal.  I wanted to create a way to quickly bake a normal/AO map with xNormal without ever leaving Maya.  The workflow for the by-hand version of this process looks something like this:

old_process_xn

with the area in brown having to be repeated for every mesh, and the entire process needing to be repeated for every bake.  My solution involves a new node in Maya along with a UI and set of tools for interacting with it (collectively referred to as Bake Layer Tool).  You can see it in action below:

As can been seen, the process is very quick and easy.  The revised workflow looks something more like this:

new_process_xn

with some steps only having to be taken once for a given mesh, even for multiple imports.

Current Version: 0.2.1
feel free to download the tool here.

  • Please be aware that future versions of the plug-in may cause problems when updating, due to Maya plugin node IDs, so please do not use this plugin for critical work until I have it at version 1.0.
  • Also be aware that I developed this tool on Maya 2012 with a fully updated install of PyMel.  This will not currently run on a vanilla install of Maya 2011, although I am currently considering working on making it backwards-compatible to 2011.