Baking refer to the action of transferring mesh based information into textures. These information are then read by shaders and/or substance filters to perform advanced effects.
Most modern game engine and offline renderer use these baked textures. Baked textures are used in Substance Painter to add details and quickly texture an asset via advanced mask generators and filters. There are mandatory to be able to use Smart Materials for examples.
Often baked texture are used to transfer information from a highly detailed mesh onto an other mesh will less geometry, allowing performance optimization when manipulating the lower mesh. This is why we refer these meshes as high definition and low definition.
For more details about the baking process, see the following pages :
The baking dialog can be accessed from the Texture Set Settings window :
The baking dialog consists of 2 panels.
The left part lists the available bakers while the right part shows all the bake settings you can adjust. The settings under the yellow tab are global and shared between all the bakers, while the red part is specific to the currently selected baker. It is possible to bake multiple texture set at the same time by using the "Bake all texture sets" button. The list of the currently enabled baker will be applied on all the other Texture sets in this case.
Baked maps will automatically be plugged in the corresponding Additional Maps slots in your TextureSet Settings.