Here is the low and high poly versions of my model side by side.
Today I have learnt a new skill, normal mapping. I had started by modelling a simple, low poly box and getting this as my final result.
To create this I went through a few stages. When I had modelled the low poly box I duplicated it and started to add detail to the duplicated one. This one was going to be my final model. My idea was to make my box look like an old wooden box.
To start normal mapping I changed my scene from modelling to rendering. I then went into the window transfer maps and in the target meshes drop down menu I added my low poly box. I then, under the display menu, changed mesh to envelope. Doing this created a shell around my high poly model. After I was happy with the position of the shell I made sure the match setting was on surface normals. Surface normals clean undistorted surface detail but combines every hard edge and uv split. The other option was Geometery normals which clean normals across hard edges and uv splits. However using this method you could get some out of place surface normals. Once I was happy with all the settings I hit the bake button and allowed Maya to bake my High poly model. Above is the final outcome.
Along the way I did come across a few problems. One problem occurred when I was trying to bevel faces that I had extruded inwards. When I bevelled some face turned inside out and appeared black. To solve this problem I reversed the faces before bevelling them.
Here is what the box looked like at the start.
Here is the wireframe of my two models. The one on the right is the low poly model and the one on the left is the high poly model. As you can see the high poly model has a lot more detail within it and a lot more faces have been used.