How to Bake Texture Maps in Blender

This article will help you to understand the basics of baking textures using Cycles Bake in Blender, applicable to Blender 4+ versions.

The main advantage of using baked textures is that you can load a model with few baked images in Blender or other 3D programs. This technique saves valuable resources by precomputing items like lights, normals, and bumps, allowing for smoother real-time performance.

Also, baked textures are a great way to reduce the file size and complexity of a 3D model. This is because the baking process takes the information from the model’s geometry and lighting and stores it in a single image file. This means that when the model is loaded into Blender, the computer doesn’t have to recalculate all of that information every time the model is rendered.

Step 1: Preparing the Model for Baking

Before you start baking textures in Blender, follow these steps to prep your 3D model:

UV unwrap model
  1. UV Unwrap: This tells Blender how to “flatten” your 3D model onto a 2D image, which is crucial for texture mapping.
  2. Connect Texture Maps: In the shading tab, connect the texture maps (e.g., Diffuse, Normal, A.O) to your model.
  3. Create a New Image Texture: Inside the shader editor, create a new image texture. Click on “New” in the image texture settings and set the desired resolution.
  4. Multiple Materials: If your object has multiple materials, copy-paste the image texture that you have created in previous step into each material slots. Cycles bake can only work with image textures in a shaded window, where a new image texture is created.
Shift+A Image texture, copy image texture to each material

Now that your model is prepped, let’s move on to Step 2: Baking the Textures!

Step 2: Baking the Textures

Now, let’s bake the textures! Follow these simple steps:

  1. Choose Cycles Rendering Engine: Go to the render tab and select the Cycles rendering engine for the baking process.
  2. Select the New Image Texture: In the render tab, choose the newly created image texture as the target for baking.
  3. Expand Baking Options: At the bottom of the render tab, expand the baking options menu.
  4. Choose Bake Type: Depending on your requirements, select the appropriate bake type, such as Diffuse, Normal, or Ambient Occlusion.
  5. Initiate the Baking Process: Click on the “Bake” button to start the baking process.
  6. Save the Baked Texture: After baking, you’ll see the resulting texture in the bottom left-hand corner. Save this image to your desired location.
Process of Baking textures in blender
Baking diffuse map in Blender

Now, we have our baked texture, which represents the material’s appearance with all the lighting and effects pre-calculated.

Base color map baked in Blender

Properly Naming Texture Maps: Before moving on, it’s essential to name your texture maps correctly. Properly named maps help you and others understand their purpose and make your workflow more organized. We’ll discuss more details about naming and importance of texture maps in the last section.

Step 3: Applying Baked Textures to the Shader

Now that you have the baked texture, you can apply it to your shader node to achieve the desired result. Instead of using all other texture maps, connect the baked image to the shader node, and you’re ready to go.

Pro Tip: If you’ve baked multiple maps (such as diffuse, normal, roughness, etc.), you can quickly load them all using the Node Wrangler addon shortcut “Shift + Alt + T.” Here’s the procedure:

Load baked textures using Node wrangler Addon in Blender
Load textures using Node wrangler Addon in Blender
  1. First, select the Principled BSDF node in the Shader Editor.
  2. Press “Shift + Alt + T” to trigger the Node Wrangler addon.
  3. A popup will appear, showing all available baked maps. Simply select all the maps you want to load.

By using this handy shortcut and the Node Wrangler addon, you can effortlessly load multiple baked maps into your shader node setup, streamlining your workflow and enhancing your 3D creations.

Important Texture Maps and Their Names

When working with texture maps, a crucial aspect to consider is how you name your maps and what information they convey. Properly naming your texture maps not only makes your workflow more organized but also ensures that the 3D rendering engine interprets them correctly.

Naming textures - BaseColor, Normal and Roughness baking in blender

Three essential texture maps to include are the BaseColor, Roughness, and Normal maps.

1. BaseColor Map

The BaseColor map, often referred to as the Albedo or Diffuse map, serves as the fundamental color information for your materials.

It dictates the color of an object without any lighting or shading effects. By incorporating the term “BaseColor” in the map’s name, you immediately convey its purpose in the material setup. When applied correctly, this map forms the foundation of your material, providing the base color that interacts with lighting and other material properties.

2. Roughness Map

The Roughness map defines the surface smoothness or roughness of an object.

A white area in this map indicates a smooth surface, reflecting light in a concentrated manner. Conversely, black regions signify rough surfaces that scatter light in multiple directions, resulting in softer reflections. Naming this map “Roughness” communicates its role in determining how light interacts with the material’s surface, affecting the material’s overall appearance and realism.

3. Normal Map

The Normal map plays a crucial role in simulating intricate surface details without the need for excessive geometry.

By encoding surface information into RGB values, the Normal map creates the illusion of bumps and dents on an otherwise flat surface. The term “Normal” in the map’s name clearly identifies its purpose in enhancing the material’s visual complexity and adding depth to the 3D model.

Additional Considerations

Apart from the essential maps mentioned above, other maps like Metalness, Ambient Occlusion, and Emissive can further improve your material.


Baking textures using Cycles in Blender provides a powerful way to optimize your 3D models. By precomputing textures, you can enhance real-time performance and streamline resource usage. With the steps outlined in this article, you can start leveraging the benefits of baked textures in your Blender projects. Happy baking!

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