correct process to bake a good normal map

Hello friends. I would ask to you some hints about baking a decent normal mapping (I use maya to bake and Lightwave to model, but from what I ask I guess that it would be a procedure valid in any package able to bake 'em). I proceeded this way:

  1. made the low poly mesh (2500 quads), uvmapped (512^2), some parts cutoff and mirrored, some unwrapped as entire
  2. imported it in sculptris (I know, zbrush’s better, but costs alot; I use maya from school, and a old pack of Lightwave…) and added details (4 millions tris!)
  3. reimported into maya along with the lowpoly source; setup the whole for baking (from the lightning section), setting the cage at 2.0%
  4. saved the map as 1024^2 png

When I imported the lowpoly (fbx) into unity, I saw it with “splotches”, “pinchings” and other strange artifacts. It is due to a cage issue, or what? Perhaps I should have started whit modeling the hipoly version AND make a retopo upon it, instead of layering the altered hipoly upon its original lowpoly source?

That’s why I ask you what would be an optimal procedure and settings which you usually follow in order to model a decent model suitable bake a correct normalmap.

In the case my question were too vague, please advice me instead of countervoting me: I’m new, and I’m still learning the conventions of interacting here. Thank you in advance.

As far as I know, the standard procedure in the industry is as follows;

  1. Modelling the base mesh
  2. Sculpting it
  3. Retopo on the sculpted model
  4. Bake normal maps

I don’t have any knowledge to give tips based on your pipeline but searching for some video tutorials might help. Also you can take a look at Blender if you haven’t already. It has decent sculpting tools and normal map baking.