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This question moved from http://stackoverflow.com/questions/4319183/sketchup-for-modelling-blender-for-lightmaps-rendering-in-xna-reach-profile

Hello. I'm a programmer looking to add some 3D assets to my game. I have played around with both Blender and Sketchup, and for my limited 3D modelling experience I'm finding I can make far more interesting models/scenes in Sketchup than blender, but I couldn't find any free lightmap baking tools for sketchup, whereas my understanding is that this is available in blender for free.

So, my question is, how can I setup a workflow whereby I can do most if not all of my work in Sketchup, and only use Blender to create the lightmaps? Is there any way to define light information in Sketchup, but have blender render the light-maps? Otherwise I'm going to have to do all the modeling in sketchup and then add the lights manually in blender every time I make a change to the scene.

Also, I couldn't find information specifically about blender and the dual texture effect in Xna Reach. Does anyone have information/tutorial/etc.. for getting lightmaps calculated with blender into Xna and rendered using the dual texture effect in xna reach (i.e. on windows phone 7).

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2 Answers

I imagine you could possibly bake some shadows/lights with plugin, like LightUp in Sketchup, but I haven't tried yet.

Although SketchUp is pretty easy to pickup, it easily makes complicated meshes. Since there are no 'Polygon' tools in Sketchup, there are a lot ways to accidentally add to many additions to the mesh which aren't needed...basically I don't consider Sketchup a good tool for lowpoly/realtime 3D.

I would suggest getting the hang of Blender if you're planning to do more real time 3D in the future. You've got a lot of tools and you've even got a GameEngine inside Blender so you can preview a mesh in realtime, check for potential problems with RigidBody collisions, etc.

I found an old, but comprehensive article on creating lightmaps in Blender.

I must admit, Blender is a bit intimidating first, but as a developer, it's a lot easier to pickup and makes more sense than others.

If you still need a minimal/easy to use Editor, try Wings3D It's very basic, but powerful. Unfortunately, it wouldn't help with lightmaps...but you could easily export an OBJ or something from Wings3D and render your lightmaps from Blender. It should a lot easier, cleaner than importing a Collada from Sketchup.

I know that you mentioned Blender and Sketchup, but on Windows, you might also find gile[s] as a good option:

giles preview 1

giles preview 2

HTH

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Or wings3d for modeling characters and objects, sketchup for scenery/buildings, Blender for anything else , Giles for Lightmaps. (hey, is freeware now)

Yep, get the hang of Blender.

Tip: Put a tiny box in Sketchup where a light source should be, then can do shift + s, 'move cursor to selected'(selecting the box),then "move selected to cursor", selecting previously the light, with every light in Blender, if you are more comfortable so. If named well or other tricks, you might delete later all boxes in a snap. (maybe putting in a layer which you dont render)

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