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V-Ray Material, Part 1: Diffuse

by Calvin Bryson

In this series of Turbo Tips, were giving you an in-depth guide to regular V-Ray Material. Well cover the theory behind many of the features of
the material and give you specific examples of settings and tricks to use. While the example images are from 3ds Max, the same concepts and
settings can be used in V-Ray for Maya. The information covered here is generally useful in V-Ray for C4D, but the specific fields and values
may be different.
The VRayMtl is the main workhorse for creating shaders in V-Ray. Eighty percent of the time, it is all youll need to create realistic results that
also render quite fast. It is optimized to work with all other aspects of V-Ray (lights, GI, sampling, etc.), so it should always be used instead of
3ds Max native materials.

Main components
Generally, the main components of a CG shader are:

Diffuse
Reflection
Refraction
Bump

These are the names that V-Ray uses. They may have different names in different renderers, but the functions are pretty much the same.
Diffuse gives the basic color to the shader; reflection controls how the the shader reflects light; refraction controls how it lets the light through;
and bump simulates a distortion of the objects surface.
With the exception of the refraction, the other 3 components should be present in all materials.
This week, well talk about the first of the main components:

Diffuse
The easiest way to understand Diffuse is to think of it as the color of the object. For example: what color is a tomato? Red! So, the Diffuse color
of a tomato is a red color.

Adding Realism with Variation


But wait! Most objects have a multitude of colors in them. Even a tomato has a light green patch where the stem connects to the fruit. The red is
not the same in all spots, so it could be more pink on the bottom and slightly greenish on the top. Most of the time, you should use an image (a
Texture or a Procedural Map) to define those colors. Even objects like a blue plastic ball are not perfectly blue a couple of days or weeks after
they leave the shop. Everything gets a bit dirty or faded out there in the real world.
The obvious exception to this is if you are creating shaders for studio renders of product design, where everything has to look like it just came
out of the packaging box clean, shiny, perfect. In this case, you may use solid colors as the Diffuse of your VrayMtl. Use your judgement and
decide whether the material needs to be super slick for a studio render, or a bit weathered to make a believable real-world scene.

Setting Up the Diffuse (2.2 gamma Workflow)


Ok, so how do we actually set up the Diffuse?

You can either use a color, by clicking on the color swatch (green rectangle, above), or you can set up a Map by clicking on the small square
next to the color swatch (orange rectangle, above). You can also scroll down to the Maps tab and assign the texture there. Most maps in VRaywork this way (below)

If you are working by eye and accurate colors are not required, choosing the color from the 3ds Max color picker is fast and easy. The problems
start when you want to match a color from an external application like Photoshop. If you choose the same RGB value in both applications, the
result will be different (if you are using proper gamma 2.2 setup in 3ds Max).

This problem comes from the Gamma correction. Essentially, the RGB values are brightened in 3ds max with the Gamma curve.
To fix it, you must use a Vray Color map in the Diffuse slot.

Set the same RGB values in the color slot and change the Gamma correction settings to specify and make sure its set at 2.2

Now, the color of the material matches perfectly with the color you took from Photoshop.
This may seem a bit complicated for just getting a simple color in 3ds Max, but currently, there is no automatic way to do this.

IMPORTANT NOTE:
For realistic results, the Diffuse must use colors or textures in the range of 10~230 on the lightness scale. Most things we think of as pure white
are actually ~75%-90% white (190-230). The whitest snow has only 90% albedo (reflectance rate). The same goes for blacks: only black holes
absorb everything and the rest of the world reflects at least a small portion of the light. Even the darkest coal has an albedo of ~4%. Using
overbright colors will not only look non-realistic, but it will also increase the render times as the light needs to be bounced around more.
The 10 to 230 range is for Photoshop textures and Vray Color gamma-corected colors. If you use the regular color picker, the range gets
converted to about 1~205.
If your Texture image has brighter or darker areas, its easy to fix using the Levels tool in Photoshop: just move the Black point to 1 and White
point to 230 as in the example image below.

Using Bitmaps and Understanding Filtering


Now lets try using our adjusted Bitmap in the Diffuse slot.

So, here is our next problem notice the blurry areas on our model.

This blur is caused by Texture Filtering. It is used to avoid moire artifacts on small, sharp patterns by blurring everything.

Obviously, this is not at all what we want. We want nice, crisp renders. There are a couple of ways to solve this problem.
You can reduce the blur setting in the Bitmap Coordinates tab. Something like 0.01~0.6 is usually the most useable range. (See below.)

Another option is to disable the filtering altogether in the Bitmap Parameters tab. This works just as well for making everything sharper, but is
not as flexible. Most of the time we prefer reducing the Blur so we can keep at least some control over the softness of the texture.

It is very important to reduce blur or turn off filtering for all the textures you are using. Especially so with the Diffuse and Bump textures. If you
do not do this, there will be parts of your render that will look blurry, not to mention loss of the fine details in textures. Keep in mind that
sometimes, the results might be too sharp. In that case, slowly increase the Blur value until the render looks good.

Diffuse Roughness
The Diffuse tab has one more option: Roughness. It controls how flat the shading of your object looks.
There are not a lot of materials where it is useful, but some common examples are chalk and dust. Higher values, flatter look: use your eyes to
make a judgement on how much the materials need it.

Diffuse Color vs. Refraction/Reflection Color


To wrap things up on Diffuse, lets talk about one more important point. Sometimes the Diffuse color is not obvious. This happens with
materials that are identified not by their Diffuse color, but by their Reflections or Refractions.
The most common examples are metals and glass. For extremely Reflective/Refractive materials, use near black as the Diffuse color [1;1;1;]. If
the material is aged, you can increase the lightness a bit, but try to stay in dark grey area of the lightness scale. This is just a general guideline
sometimes you might need to give a bit of a color tint to a metal (or glass) to match your photo reference but still, be start with near black and
adjust it only if necessary.
To illustrate this example, heres a gold material (below). To the left, you have an incorrect approach with yellow Diffuse and yellow
Reflections, and to the right, you have a physically correct look with near black Diffuse and yellow Reflections.

V-Ray Material, Part 2: Reflection


by Calvin Bryson

In this series of Turbo Tips, were giving you an in-depth guide to regular V-Ray Material. Well cover the theory behind many of the features of
the material and give you specific examples of settings and tricks to use. While the example images are from 3ds Max, the same concepts and
settings can be used in V-Ray for Maya. The information covered here is generally useful in V-Ray for C4D, but the specific fields and values
may be different.
Last week, we talked about the Diffuse tab. This week, well be moving on to:

Reflection
After Diffuse, Reflection is the second most important component of the VrayMtl. It also features a lot more options than Diffuse.

Perhaps it can be easier to understand how the Reflection works if you imagine it as a layer on top of the Diffuse. At 100% strength
[255;255;255], it shows pure reflection of the environment, lights, etc. Use a darker color and the Diffuse will start to show through. Drop it
down to pure black and only the Diffuse is visible. (Its not entirely as simple as that, but thats the general idea on how Diffuse and Reflection
interact.)

Adding Realism with Texture

The Reflections (just like most other maps in V-Ray) can be defined by using a color, a map, or a texture. The same principle of Diffuse map
applies if its not a shiny, slick studio render, there are bound to be some imperfections in the reflection amount. Also, its best to use a Map or
a Texture instead of a simple color.
In general, it may be best to keep the Reflection value in the range from 1~230 for realistic results.

Always Turn on Fresnel

So, why does our material look so artificial?


The problem is that the light reflects equally at all angles. Real world objects have different strengths of reflections, depending on the viewing
angle relative to your line of sight. In general, the lower the angle, the stronger the reflection becomes. Even when some materials initially
appear to be non-reflective, they will reflect quite a bit when they nearly parallel to the direction youre looking at.
Lets look at some examples

Notice how the reflection gets stronger as the floor goes further from the camera (or the closer it approaches the edge of the bowling ball). The
smaller the viewing angle, the stronger the reflection. If you look directly at something (90), the reflection is much weaker than if you look at it
with a small angle.

To imitate this effect in Vray, you can use the Fresnel Reflections option.

In general, it is a good idea to use Fresnel for every material you create. The difference between chrome and concrete lies in the Fresnel IOR
value. This value determines exactly how this reflection falloff occurs. To access it, turn off the L button. (Note: the default value of 1.6 is only
good for glass and maybe some plastics.)

Below is a general guide on which values to use for which materials.

water: 1.33
plastic: 1.4-2.4
glass: 1.5-1.8
diamond: 2.4
compound materials (wood, stone, concrete, etc.): 3-6
metals: 18-100 (Though you should rarely exceed 40)

Reflection Glossiness

This parameter controls how glossy our material looks. The higher the value, the higher the glossiness. A perfectly polished surface would have
a glossiness of 1 (default value). Since nothing is ever perfect, we wouldnt go higher than 0.99
Decreasing glossiness makes the reflections blurrier. The effect is somewhat similar to taking a fine sandpaper to our shader and roughing the
surface up. This comes with a cost, though: the more blurry your reflections get, the harder it is for V-Ray to calculate them; thus, the result is
noisier and the render time increases. For very rough surfaces, we wouldnt go lower than 0.35
This gives us a useable range of 0.35-0.99.

Unlinking Specular & Reflection Glossiness

By default, Reflection glossiness and Highlight glossiness are locked together. However, there are times that it can be useful to unlink these and
use a slightly lower Highlight gloss. The effect is that you still have sharp reflections with some slight glow around them. Many real world
objects show this kind of behaviour:

This little cheat helps us simulate that look without increasing the render time. There are no rules on how much to lower the Highlight gloss, so
use your eyes to make the judgement although, generally, a difference of 1.0 to 1.5 works well.

Using Texture To Drive Glossiness

As soon as the object leaves its packaging and a person touches it, the reflections are no longer equally glossy. The areas touched by hands or
scuffed against something rough are slightly more blurry from oils, scratches, or any other interaction with the world. Try to use a texture or a
map instead of a simple color it can have very little variation in brightness, but it is important to pay attention to these little details. Otherwise,
the result will look artificial.
Generally, it is a good idea to derive your glossiness map from the reflection map (you can overlay a different texture to make it more
interesting). The areas that are less reflective will probably be slightly more blurry as well. This is not a hard rule. You can break it, as long as
the result looks believable.

This example still needs some Bump to look realistic, but well get to that a bit later.
The next parameter is Subdivs:

This setting determines how many samples V-Ray can use to clean up the noise in blurred reflections. Basically: more samples = cleaner
reflections.

Note: Most V-Ray users prefer to use the Adaptive DMC sampler for rendering their images. This means that the actual number of samples
needed for a clean image changes, depending on the DMC settings: 1/4 will need lower values than 1/100. We recommend leaving this value at
the default, 8 subdivs, if the models or materials will be used by other people. Everyone has their own workflow and will adjust it accordingly.
Otherwise, it can get frustrating hunting down a material with a too-high subdiv count that doesnt work with a particular render setup.

Reflection Depth & Exit Color

This option sets how many times the reflection is traced before it is converted into the exit color. This helps to speed up the renders by reducing
the amount of calculations V-Ray has to do for reflections. Heres an example with exit color set to blue:

The default settings work well most of the time. If you have a lot of mirrors or other reflective objects, you might need to increase the max
depth, though going higher than ~20 isnt usually necessary.
If your material has blurry reflections, you can make it render a bit faster without losing quality, by reducing the Max Depth as follows

Glossiness 0.9-0.99 = max depth 5


Glossiness 0.8-0.89 = max depth 4
Glossiness 0.7-0.79 = max depth 3
Glossiness 0.6-0.69 = max depth 2
Glossiness 0.35-0.59 = max depth 1

Since the reflections are blurred, there will be no negative effects on the image. The values weve provided are more like a rough guide, so you
can adjust them if needed.
Lesser-Known Parameters

That about covers it for the basic Reflection tab Interpolation is no longer needed, since its much faster and easier to use light cache for glossy
rays in GI settings. Dim distance and Affect channels are only used in some very specific cases (more related to scene optimization, not material
creation).

BRDF
There are a few other options hidden a bit lower, in the BRDF tab and the Options tab.
BRDF is basically a mathematical model that is used to calculate the reflections and specularity for your material. There are three types available
for you to choose from Blinn, Phong and Ward. Each one has their own specific uses.

As you can see, the main difference is in the way they treat highlights. Phong is the sharpest, Blinn is a bit more blurred, and Ward is much
softer.
There really is no hard and fast rule for which of these to use, but our general recommendation would be to use Ward for metals and anisotropic
materials, and Blinn or Phong (whichever you prefer) for the rest. The only exception is that it is not recommended to switch to Ward for metals,
if the metal is highly polished or has very sharp reflections (like chrome, gold jewelry, etc.).
Anisotropy

Anisotropy is used to simulate stretched out highlights. In the real world, these are caused by elongated micro-scratches that go in the same
direction. Below are a couple of example photos; this effect is seen mostly on brushed metal:

Anisotropy should be set in an interval between -0.99 and 0.99. With values of -1; 0 and 1, it will not do anything.

The effect becomes stronger as the value approaches 1 (or -1). The difference between negative and positive values is the direction of the
stretching. Positive values stretch reflections horizontally (simulates vertical scratch pattern). Negative values stretch the reflection vertically
(simulates horizontal scratch pattern).

You can also rotate the the stretching effect to any angle you want by using the Rotation parameter.

For even more control, you can choose the axis that is used for calculations.

For it to work correctly, Anisotropy needs blurred reflections. If your Reflection glossiness is set very high, the effect will not work.
Just as with other aspects of V-ray, we can use Maps or Textures to drive the Anisotropy parameters as well.
You can use an Anisotropy texture with reduced strength to fine tune the exact amount of imperfection it introduces. Keep in mind that texture
maps only work as positive values, so its best to combine them with positive Anisotropy strength. For example (below), were using Anisotropy
0.6 + 20% of a texture. The result looks a bit more natural than just pure Anisotropy.

Rotation maps can be used to change the direction of the simulated scratches. This is good for creating things like circular patterns or metallic
flakes that reflect light in random directions. Smooth gradients make the rotation gradual, while patches of different colors make the transitions
sharp, with each shade of gray having a different rotation value.

The Options Tab (Reflections)

Before we finish with Reflections, here are a couple more options to consider. Scroll down to the Options tab and take a look at the settings
there:

The outlined options (above) are all affecting the Reflections.


First of all, you should never turn off the Trace Reflections option, since it is essential for a realistic result. If you turn it off and use only the fake
specular highlights, reflections are just that: round, fake highlights, regardless of the shape of the lights or the environment.

Next is Reflect on back side. By default, it is turned off and thats fine for most materials, since it helps to cut down on the render time.
However, if you are creating glass or other transparent materials, you have to turn this option ON, otherwise, the result will not look realistic.

And finally, lets look at the Energy Preservation mode. The default setting of RGB is physically correct, however, there might be some cases
where the result is hard to predict. For example, a white material with blue reflections (below).
The Reflection amount is subtracted from the Diffuse color. For example, lets take white Diffuse [230;230;230] and blue Reflections [0;0;230].
So, what do we get when we subtract? We get Yellow [230;230;0], and that is exactly what we see when rendering this particular example:

Switch the EPM to Mono and you get a much more predictable result white Diffuse and blue Reflections.

These types of materials are not common. Change this option only on the rare occasion that you have to create colored Reflections on top of a
bright Diffuse color.

V-Ray Material, Part 3: Refraction


by Calvin Bryson

In this series of Turbo Tips, were giving you an in-depth guide to regular V-Ray Material. Well cover the theory behind many of the features of
the material and give you specific examples of settings and tricks to use. While the example images are from 3ds Max, the same concepts and
settings can be used in V-Ray for Maya. The information covered here is generally useful in V-Ray for C4D, but the specific fields and values
may be different.
Last week, we talked about the Reflection tab. This week, well be moving on to:

Refraction
Refraction controls how an object lets light through. For example, if you were to shine a light on an object, how much light would you see
coming through the other side? Unlike Reflection, not all objects are refractive. Some typical examples that use this V-Ray material component
are: glass, water, transparent plastic, crystal, oil, etc.

The amount of Refraction can be controlled by a number, Map, or Texture. It can be grayscale or colored, but it is recommended to stick to
grayscale for more realistic results.
If you are not using Caustics in your scene (most likely you arent), turn on the Affect Shadows option to get realistic, transparent shadows.
Otherwise, the shadows will be too dark.

Adding Color To Refraction

So, how do we actually get colored refractions, if its not recommended to use colors in the Refraction amount? We should use the Fog color
option, in this case. It works realistically, since thicker parts of the model will be more colored/darker than the thin parts.
Depending on your objects physical size, you might need to adjust the Fog Multiplier Value. Larger objects will look darker than smaller ones
when using the same material.

Use Fog Bias to control the color transitions. Lower values make the color more intense and the transitions sharper, while higher values make
the tinting more weak but even. If you adjust both of these parameters (Fog Multiplier and Fog Bias), you should be able to achieve any effect
you might need.

Refraction Glossiness
Refraction Glossiness simulates a rougher surface, by diffusing the light rays in different directions. Lower values create a rougher look (frosted
or sand-blasted glass, or textured rough plastic), and higher values are for smooth surfaces. Since glossy Refractions are one of the biggest
increases for render times, they are usually used in a smaller range. You probably dont need to go lower than 0.7 to achieve the desired look.

You can use a Texture to create a rougher, more realistic look. If the material is still pretty clean, dont overdo it and use a map that is mostly
pure white with some darker spots/patches. Its usually a good idea to keep the Refraction Glossiness map similar to the reflection glossiness.
Any rougher areas would affect the Reflections and Refractions in a similar way.

Note: As with Reflections, we think its best to leave the Subdivs at 8, for the end user (your customer) to adjust for themselves.

Refraction Depth and Exit Color

The Refraction Depth and Exit Color function exactly the same as their Reflection counterparts: bump up the max depth if there are lots of
refractive/reflective objects and bring it down if using blurry Refractions.

Refraction IOR

IOR is a very important parameter to set correctly, in order for your material to look believable. Fortunately, these values have been calculated
for all sorts of materials, so theres no need to guess here.
With the Value of 1 (same as air), the rays of light are going straight through the object without any distortion. As you raise the number higher,
the rays get distorted more and more.

Acetone 1.36
Agate 1.544
Air 1.0002926
Alcohol 1.329
Amber 1.546
Amethyst 1.544
Crystal 2.00
Diamond 2.417
Emerald 1.576
Ethanol 1.36
Glass 1.51714
Glass, Albite 1.4890
Glass, Crown 1.520
Glass, Crown, Zinc 1.517
Glass, Flint, Dense 1.66
Glass, Flint, Heaviest 1.89
Glass, Flint, Heavy 1.65548
Glass, Flint, Lanthanum 1.80
Glass, Flint, Light 1.58038
Glass, Flint, Medium 1.62725
Ice 1.309
Jade, Nephrite 1.610
Jadeite 1.665
Methanol 1.329
Moonstone, Albite 1.535
Nylon 1.53
Onyx 1.486
Opal 1.450
Plastic 1.460
Plexiglas 1.50
Polystyrene 1.55
Quartz 1.544
Quartz, Fused 1.45843
Rock Salt 1.544
Ruby 1.760
Sapphire 1.760
Tiger eye 1.544
Topaz 1.620
Tourmaline 1.624
Turpentine 1.472
Turquoise 1.610
Water 35C (Room temp) 1.33
Zirconia, Cubic 2.170

Breaking the Rules

Technically, both the Reflection and Refraction IOR should be the same, but sometimes, you might want to unlock them for artistic reasons. This
trick is used when glass or transparent plastic material just seems to lack reflections. In this case, bumping up the Reflection IOR can help in
bringing out those reflections. Its also useful when you want to create a more even distribution of the reflections, without increasing their
intensity.

Dispersion

Dispersion controls how the light is split up into different colors when passing through an object. A classic example of this would be a ray of
light going through a prism, creating a rainbow effect. Most glass and other refractive materials show at least a little bit of dispersion. The exact
amount is controlled by the Abbe number. The basic idea is, as the Abbe number goes lower, the dispersion effect increases. Its easy to overdo
it, but it should actually be pretty subtle.

Since it is quite slow to render, most of the time you can get by without dispersion. We only suggest using it for close-up studio renders of things
like jewellery, glass, or crystals.

Refraction & Alpha Channels

Finally, a quick tip to remember: for Refractive objects, it is generally a good idea to set the Affect Channels to All Channels. This way,
your alpha channel will not be solid white, but will be adjusted, depending on the transparency of the object. This is very useful in postproduction.

V-Ray Material, Part 4: Translucency & Bump


by Calvin Bryson

In this series of Turbo Tips, were giving you an in-depth guide to regular V-Ray Material. Well cover the theory behind many of the features of
the material and give you specific examples of settings and tricks to use. While the example images are from 3ds Max, the same concepts and
settings can be used in V-Ray for Maya. The information covered here is generally useful in V-Ray for C4D, but the specific fields and values
may be different.
Last week, we talked about the Refraction tab. This week, well be moving on to Bump, but first: a quick tip about

Translucency
It is possible to add Translucency to your V-ray Material, but we highly recommend using VrayFastSSS2 material if you need this effect. Why?
Its a newer, faster interpretation of Subsurface Scattering that is also more adjustable.
If you do decide to use the Translucency in the regular V-Ray Material, here are a couple of things to remember:

The material needs to be refractive for translucency to work


Set the IOR to 1
Make sure that Double Sided is turned Off in the Options tab
Reduce the Refraction Glossiness to something like 0.15~0.5

To define the outer color of the object, use the Diffuse color:

To define the inner color, go ahead and Fog Color, just like you would for refractive materials.
You can also tint the inside of the material by using the Backface color:

Stick to the Hard Wax or Hybrid type (Soft Water is just for legacy V-Ray version compatibility):

You can reduce the depth of the scattered rays by using the Thickness parameter:

Scatter Coefficient changes so the light rays travel within the object. Zero (0) means that the rays get scattered in all directions; one (1) means
the rays will continue to move in the same direction before entering the object.
Light multiplier allows you to change the strength of the light as it moves inside the object.

Bump
Bump is another very important component of a V-Ray Material. All objects should have some sort of Bump, even if its just a very weak one.
The thing is, nothing is ever completely flat, round, or in any other perfect shape. Even the smoothest, nicest surface has a bit of imperfection to
it.
The way this works is very simple: you just add a Map or a Texture to the Bump slot and adjust the strength.

Medium gray [128;128;128] does nothing, while lighter values go up and darker values go down (relative to the surface normals).

For very strong Bump effect, or for situations where correct shape in the profile of the object is needed, its better to use Displacement (either in
a material slot or as a V-ray Displacement Modifier). Bump is a fake effect, while Displacement produces actual geometry at render time.
Just keep in mind that displacement works only in a positive direction. Black is in the original shape of the object and everything lighter than that
gets displaced upwards.

Being Mindful of Gamma

If you want your Bump or Displacement to be accurate, you need to load your grayscale image with Gamma 1.0. Otherwise, the Gammacorrected tones do not produce the expected result. For example, in the image below, the Gamma 2.2-corrected texture bumps the white color
more than the black, while the Gamma 1.0 image behaves as expected.

Normal Maps

If you are using Normal maps in your workflow, you have to set up a Normal Bump map in the Bump slot. This will allow you to use the
Normal map plus an additional Bump map. You can adjust the strength of each one individually. Normal maps also require their Gamma to be
set up at 1.0 for correct results.

Boosting Realism

One last, but important, note: we do recommend adding a Bump map to all the materials you create. It doesnt always have to be strong or
detailed. Sometimes a simple Noise map can go a long way in avoiding that fake or CG look.

V-Ray Material, Part 5: Workflow


In this series of Turbo Tips, were giving you an in-depth guide to regular V-Ray Material. Well cover the theory behind many of the features of
the material and give you specific examples of settings and tricks to use. While the example images are from 3ds Max, the same concepts and
settings can be used in V-Ray for Maya. The information covered here is generally useful in V-Ray for C4D, but the specific fields and values
may be different.
To wrap up this series, well show you an example workflow for creating a material from scratch. Its not set in stone and you can change the
order around, as long as youre paying attention to the general principles.
Its always a good idea to have a reference photo (or multiple photos) so you can see what the goal is. Dont focus on using your references to
make an exact replica, but use them as a guide to creating a similar look.

Diffuse

First, decide on the Diffuse color. All materials can be split into roughly three groups: Reflective (Metals), Refractive (Glass, Water, etc), and
Other (almost everything else). For Reflective and Refractive materials, you can just choose a dark grey color like [1;1;1]. Since our reference
photo seems to be some sort of plastic (Other), we need to visually choose a color for its Diffuse- something like this blue/black will do.

Reflections

Next, add a few Reflections. Dont worry about adding all the little details just yet. So far, the Reflections will only help to evaluate the shader
better. Lets start with a simple color [180;180;180] and set the Fresnel IOR to 1.45 (plastic).

Try to estimate the general Glossiness at this point. The goal is to roughly match the size and shape of the highlights on the reference photo. It
looks like 0.85 will do the trick:

Adding a BumpMap
Try to imitate the way this ball has been used and abused- it has all sorts of scratches and rough spots. Pick a similar texture and use Levels in
Photoshop to make it so that all the bumps and scratches are black/dark grey, while the base color is [128;128;128].

Use this map in the Bump slot; reduce the Blur to about 0.5 to make everything a bit sharper; and reduce or increase the Bump strength until it
looks right.

Adding a ReflectMap

Now we need to think about how this sort of damage would affect our Reflections. It would likely make them a little bit weaker and blurrier,
since the scratches are not smoothly polished, but more rough (at least the deeper ones).
So, lets take the bump map, adjust the levels so that the white point is at 180, and move up the black point to about 150. Since there are
probably some areas that are also a bit dirty or oily, add another layer with some patchy areas on top of this map and set it to Overlay mode.

Adding a GlossMap

For the Glossiness map, calculate the value thats needed to match the test render. Here, weve set it at 0.85, so we need 255*0.85=216 as the
main color for the texture. Well also move the black point to 128, so the lowest glossiness level is about 0.5 (255*0.5=128). Now that its done,
perhaps add another overlay layer on top to add some slightly different details.

Make sure to set the Gamma to 1 for these b&w maps to get correct values in 3ds max. We also reduced the blur to about 0.4:

Starting to look better.


Adding Complexity To The BumpMap

Now all thats left is adding another layer to our Bump texture (some sort of noise for a more realistic surface). Just add another layer in
Photoshop, or you can set up a Composite map in 3ds max and overlay procedural noise there.

Adding Even More Texture

Almost there! As a final touch, weve swapped the Diffuse color for a Texture. A few gray/brown patches on top of dark blue will be a good fit.

Looks about right. Perhaps the scratch pattern is a bit rougher than the reference image, but otherwise, this looks good.
Remember:

Always try to analyze your reference image and break it down into components Diffuse; Reflection; Refraction; Bump. If something is not
clear right away (for example, bump) add some reflections and it will be much easier to evaluate the other aspects. Everything goes hand-inhand, so dont forget to analyze how each element affects the others.

V-Ray FastSSS2 Material, Part 1


by Calvin Bryson

The following is an in-depth guide to the regular V-Ray Blend Material. In this series, we will cover the theory behind many of the features of
the material. Well also show specific examples of settings and give you some tricks to use. While the images used are from 3ds Max, the same
concepts and settings can be used for V-Ray for Maya. Currently, the SSS materials in V-Ray for C4D behave differently, so this tutorial will
not be as valuable for C4D users.
The V-Ray FastSSS2 Material is designed for creating translucent materials (ones that scatter the light inside the object). Some common
examples are: skin, marble, wax, milk, etc.

Compared to the translucency option in the regular V-Ray Material, it has a far better sub-surface scattering model (SSS). It is faster and
much more advanced. For this reason, its preferable to use the FastSSS2 Material whenever you need to make a translucent shader.

Settings
Since this material works in a slightly different way than other V-Ray Materials, lets look at its settings and some examples of how they work.

Presets
Youll notice that there are a few presets. These are pre-defined materials that you can choose from a drop-down menu and quickly use in your
scene.
They do need to be customized with your own maps to look their best (colors, bump, reflection, gloss). So look at them as more of a starting
point than a finished material. Perhaps the only ones that are good as is, would be the Milk presets, since its a liquid and you may not need
any maps.

Prepass Rate
Next, lets look at the Prepass Rate value. FastSSS2 calculates the distribution of light within an object using something similar to the Irradiance
map, so this parameter sets how detailed we want this calculation to be. For most cases, you can leave it at -1 for optimal speed/quality; for test
renders and objects without small details, bring it down to -3 or -2; but for very detailed objects that show some problem areas, try bringing it up
to 0 ~ 1.

Scale
Scale controls the depth of the SSS effect. Since this material uses real world units to calculate the final result (you can set the scatter depth in
cm a bit further down), this is an easy way to quickly turn up or down the depth. Quite simply, Scale 5 gives us Scatter Depth*5, etc.

IOR
IOR is the same old Index of Refraction that we are so familiar with. Here are some general guidelines:

Water based materials (Milk, Juice, Skin, etc.): set it to 1.333


Stone/Marble: 1.5~1.6 works best
Glass: 1.6~1.9
Plastics: 1.45~2.45. This parameter affects both (the Refractions [SSS] and Reflections). There is no way to unlink them currently.

Options
Before we proceed with the Diffuse and SSS layers (in the next part of this series), lets check out Options. The most important things here to
adjust are the Single Scatter type, Subdivs and Depth.

Single Scatter
There are 3 types of Single Scatter you can use: Simple, Solid and Refractive. These are all used for specific types of materials.
1. Simple is the quickest to render but is also the least accurate. Its great if the material doesnt let in a lot of light, just a little bit (skin,
plastic).
2. Solid mode is best to use for materials that let in a lot of light, but at the same time are quite opaque, like translucent stone, milk, or wax.
3. Refractive mode is for those materials that also have visible refractions and you can see through them relatively well- things like foggy
glass, murky water, etc. This mode also makes the shadows transparent.

Subdivs & Refraction Depth


Subdivs and Refraction depth work much like regular V-Ray materials. Increasing subdivs cleans up the noise in the translucent areas; refraction
depth controls how much the light bounces around. In general, you can leave these settings at their default values. If they need to be optimized
for a particular scene (say, if an object is very refractive and not very opaque), you may try increasing the depth to be sure there are enough
bounces to make it look realistic.
Most of the time, the rest of the settings in this section work just fine, as they are. If the render appears too blotchy, you can play around with the
prepass blur value. Higher values will blur the scattered light more, though decreases accuracy.

V-Ray FastSSS2 Material, Part 2


The following is an in-depth guide to the regular V-Ray Blend Material. In this series, we will cover the theory behind many of the features of
the material. Well also show specific examples of settings and give you some tricks to use. While the images used are from 3ds Max, the same
concepts and settings can be used for V-Ray for Maya. Currently, the SSS materials in V-Ray for C4D behave differently, so this tutorial will
not be as valuable for C4D users.

Diffuse and SSS Layers


This is the most important (and, generally, the most confusing) part of the FastSSS2 material. The problem is, there are many different colors to
set up and they all seem to affect one another in some way, so it can be a bit difficult to work non-destructively.
In this tutorial, well attempt to de-mystify these settings so theyre a bit easier to work with.

Diffuse Color, Diffuse Amount, & Sub Surface Color

Lets start with the Diffuse and SubSurface colors: essentially, they set up the inner and outer color of the object and allow you to set exactly
how much each one affects the final material. To demonstrate how this works, weve set up the Diffuse to be a pure blue, while SubSurface is
set to a pure red. Look how everything changes as we adjust the Diffuse Amount value:

At 0, only the SSS layer is visible, while at 1, only the Diffuse is visible, with no light scattering inside of the object. Everything in-between is a
mix of the two.
Overall Color

Now, well bring the Overall Color into the equation. This acts as a filter for both the Diffuse and Subsurface and it affects how much of the set
color is to be seen in the actual material. Pure white [255;255;255] lets through 100%, while medium grey [128;128;128] lets through 50%.
This sounds simple, but it also works the same way with colors: pure red Overall color [255;0;0] only shows the red channel of both Diffuse and
SubSurface colors. In this case, it is pure black, since neither of the colors have any red channel value. Basically, the RGB value of Overall color
determines exactly what percentage of each channel is visible in the other two colors.

We recommend sticking to grayscale values or grayscale textures in this slot. Otherwise, it is very hard to predict the resulting look. Its not
intuitive, but mathematical. However, a simple B&W map can be good way to make everything a bit more interesting, without getting
unexpected colors.

Scatter Color

Finally, theres one other color to adjust: Scatter Color. This defines the color of the scattered light rays once they enter the surface of the object.
That means it also affects the intensity of the scattered light, so if you set it to black, the light turns black and no scattering is going on.

Again, this one is a bit tricky to use if you use colors instead of grayscale values, since it interacts with the SubSurface color in a mathematical
way. Were not 100% sure of the exact formula behind it, so your best bet is trial and error- try first to adjust the lightness of this color and then
tweak the hue until you get the exact look you want. Usually, the Subsurface hue and Scatter color hue should be pretty close.

Scatter Radius

Scatter Radius allows you to set an exact depth to which the light rays can penetrate the surface. If you need to be sure the result is accurate, take
care to keep the Scale at 1 and make sure the objects XForm is reset.

Phase Function

Were almost done! The last parameter to adjust here is the Scatter Phase. It can be set from -1 to +1 and it controls the way light rays travel
within the objects surface. Zero (0) scatters the rays in all directions equally; positive values focus the light mostly forward; and negative values
make most of the rays go backwards. As a general rule, water-based materials (skin, juice, milk) tend to scatter the rays forward, while hard
materials (marble, glass) tend to scatter them backwards.

V-Ray Fast SSS2 Material, Part 3


The following is an in-depth guide to the regular V-Ray Blend Material. In this series, we will cover the theory behind many of the features of
the material. Well also show specific examples of settings and give you some tricks to use. While the images used are from 3ds Max, the same
concepts and settings can be used for V-Ray for Maya. Currently, the SSS materials in V-Ray for C4D behave differently, so this tutorial will
not be as valuable for C4D users.
This week, were concluding this series of TurboTips with information on the Specular Layer; a few more settings for the FastSSS2 Material;
and a sample workflow to help you put it all together.

Specular Layer
If you are familiar with the regular V-ray Material, this section will be very familiar to you. Basically, the Specular Layer is the same as
Reflection, its just named differently. For physically accurate results, you must turn on the Trace Reflections option; otherwise, only fake
speculars will be used.

There is no way to unlink the Reflection IOR from the base IOR of the FastSSS2 material. Most of the time, this shouldnt be a problem, since
that is the physically correct way to do it, anyway.

The Rest of the Settings


With the exception of the Diffuse and SSS layers, most of the FastSSS2 material is very similar to the regular V-ray Material, so all the same
principles apply. You can also use maps in many of the slots that initially seem to support only colors (no little squares to set up maps next to
color slots). Just scroll down to the Maps section and plug them in there.

Workflow Example
Lets take everything weve learned and create a translucent material from a reference photo. Well attempt to make something similar to this
jade:

Start by looking up the IOR for jade. Turns out, it is almost the same as glass: 1.61. Lets set it up on our material:

Next, we need to determine what type of scattering we need. In the reference photo, it looks like the material is a bit refractive (you can see
through the thinnest areas). Lets set up the Single Scatter mode to Raytraced (Refractive).

Next, we want to set up the basic look for the Reflections. Go to the Specular layer and make sure that the Trace Reflections option is on. It
looks like the reflections are very glossy on this highly polished surface, so well set up the Glossiness at 0.92. We also made the Specular color
a bit darker [220;220;220] to make the reflections a bit more realistic.

Lets see what weve got so far

Now we are ready to move to the most important step: the Diffuse and SSS layer. Well start by setting up the Phase function to -0.8, since this
is a stone type material. Well also bring up the Scatter Radius, since it looks like the light is scattered pretty deep within the object. Lets try
something like 30 cm.

At this stage, it looks like the Radius is a bit too large, but thats ok. We will use a Noise map in the Radius slot, which will be multiplied by this
same value. So if we have Radius at 30cm and a medium grey map [128;128;128] in the slot, the actual radius will be 30*0.5=15cm. This gives
the material a quality where some areas appear less translucent while some are more translucent.
Heres the noise map setup

And here is the resulting render

Now we need to set up the colors. Well start by setting up this texture in the SubSurface color slot

Now lets tone the Scatter color. We want it to be more blue in the green areas, and more yellow in the yellow areas. This image doesnt need to
be too detailed, so we blurred it. This will also help with the foggy look.

The results already look pretty good. We just need to add a few small details to make it perfect.
Well use this gray texture in the Overall color slot to add some slightly dirtier looking patches to the object.

A variation of this texture can also be used in Spec color, Gloss and Bump slots to bring us to the finished material.

The material is finished. In this case, we did not need a Diffuse layer, since the outer/inner colors of the jade material appear to be identical.
As you can see, the idea is to take care of the technical details first (IOR, scatter type, phase, etc.), then tweak the artistic parts (colors/maps).

V-Ray Blend Material, Part 1


The following is an in-depth guide to the regular V-Ray Blend Material. It will cover the theory behind many of the features of this material,
and will also provide specific examples of settings, as well as tricks to use. While the images used are from 3ds Max, the same concepts and
settings can be used for V-Ray for Maya. The information covered here will be generally useful for V-Ray for C4D, but the blend material acts
quite differently in C4D.

Introduction
The V-Ray Blend Material could be best described as a utility material. It does not have any shading options, so it combines multiple other
shaders in different ways.
The layout is simple: you have a Base material and nine Coat materials. In fact, they all function in the same way (similarly to layers in
Photoshop), so you have a ten-layer stack. Each layer after Base has a Blend amount, Color, and Map.
Blends can be as complex as you want them to be. Since youre not limited to the ten slots, you can always add another blend in the last layer
slot and keep piling on layers. However, in the real world, this isnt the most practical way to do things. Each new layer makes the render slower,
since V-ray has to calculate all the materials in the blend, and then blend them together. This means you could easily bog down your render
times if you get too carried away.

Most of the time, 4-5 layers should be the absolute maximum to use, with 2-3 being the norm. Its also easier to manage the shader with fewer
layers.

Lets see how they work.


Weve set up a Red material in the Base slot and a Blue material in the first Coat slot. You can see how the Blend amount color affects how
much of the second layer is visible. Its a simple opacity scale: black makes the coat invisible, and white makes only the coat visible. Everything
in between is a mix of the two.

Of course, you can also use a map in the Blend amount slot. The map needs to be grayscale and the Gamma, when loading the image, should be
set at 1.0 for correct results.

Heres an example with a black and white map in the slot.

You can also mix the Map with the Blend amount color, using this numerical value. At 100, it only uses the map; at 70, it uses 70% of the map;
and at 30, 30% of the color, etc. This is great when you need to fine-tune the exact amount of blending, without changing the texture itself.

So, what about adding another coat layer?


Once you add another material to the list, everything above it is combined and treated as a single base layer (exactly as in Photoshop, except the
layer list is reversed- from the top, down).
If we add a Green layer to our Red and Blue, the result is not Red+Blue+Green, it is Purple+Green, since the first two layers get mixed at 50%,
and the result is mixed at 50% with the next layer.

Lastly, the Additive mode check box always needs to be turned OFF for physically correct renderings. It is only there to mimic the functionality
of a regular 3ds max Blend Material, but should not be used if you want believable shaders.

V-Ray Blend Material, Part 2


by Calvin Bryson

Last week, we gave you a little overview of the V-Ray Blend Material. This week, we have an important question:
When should I use Blend over other types of materials?

1. When there are layered materials, where the base and coat can be seen clearly as different materials.
In the example below, you can see that the wood has a completely different reflection/highlight pattern than the glossy lacquer layer on top.

2. When an object has radically different surface properties in large areas.


In this example photo, its easier to create two different shaders for galvanized metal and rust and blend them together, instead of trying to do it
all in one material.

3. When the object needs a specific shading effect that is not possible with a simple material.
A good example would be worn and/or slightly dirty metal that has glossy and blurred reflections at the same time.

4. When the shader needs to be easily and quickly modified.


Lets say you have a rusty, painted metal material with three different types of surfaces: metal, paint, and rust. Theoretically, it would be possible
to build elaborate mix maps and custom-painted textures to create all these effects in a single material but imagine if you need to change the
rust pattern. Oh, yeah, the material looks great, just make it a bit less rusty! What a nightmare! You would have to go through all the maps
and adjust them, one by one, to make this small change.
Now imagine that you have 3-layered blend instead (Metal, Paint and Rust layers). Everything is controlled by two simple b&w masks that can
be adjusted quickly and easily. This saves a lot of time and is far less frustrating.

V-Ray Blend Material, Part 3


The following is part of our in-depth guide to the regular V-Ray Blend Material. It will cover the theory behind many of the features of this
material, and will also provide specific examples of settings, as well as tricks to use. While the images used are from 3ds Max, the same
concepts and settings can be used for V-Ray for Maya. The information covered here will be generally useful for V-Ray for C4D, but the blend
material acts quite differently in C4D.
Examples & Common Issues with V-Ray Blend Material

Blending Two Different Materials

This is perhaps the most common use of V-ray Blend. Imagine that you have two radically different materials that are assigned to the same
object; for example, dirt spots on glass. Glass is refractive and reflective. Dirt has very weak and blurred reflections and is not refractive at all.
So, it makes sense to create two materials and just blend them with a black and white map.
Heres the glass material

And here is the dirt material

Now, we simply plug them into the Base and Coat slots, and assign a texture to the Blend Amount

Thats it! The result looks good and you can always swap the Blend Amount texture for something different to change the dirt distribution.

Refractive layers
Most of the time, its fairly easy and intuitive to break down the Blend into multiple simple materials. The way they look is obvious: metal is
metal, wood is wood, etc. The only exception is with Refractive layers (things like lacquer, clear coat, epoxy, etc.). While theyre refractive in
the real world, you should not make them refractive in V-ray, since it forms a strange and incorrect result.
Lets say we have a green plastic material, to which we want to add a clear coat reflection (imagine its been dipped in lacquer).

The way to approach it is perhaps counter-intuitive, but works very well: set up a V-ray Material with black diffuse and 255 white reflections
(fresnel off) in the Coat material slot.

For the Blend amount, use a Falloff map set to Fresnel with 1.5 IOR (acrylic). Now, lower the white color slightly, to something like 215.

And here is how the resulting shader looks. The effect is exactly what we were trying to achieve.

Bump

One of the most common problems with V-ray Blend Material is Bump. To achieve a realistic look, the same map should be featured in all the
layers, especially if the mask is very high-contrast with sharp borders around patterns.
This scratched paint material has bump in white layer only. It doesnt look that great.

In this version, weve added the same bump map to the Paint material as well.

Looks better, but what if you also want to add an orange peel effect? If you need additional bump effects, you have to change the map type in
that particular layer to composite and instance the common texture in there. Now you can composite other maps on top of it, while still keeping a
the common bump as well.

In future V-Ray versions (v3 and possibly 2.5), this can be made much simpler by using a V-Ray Bump Material. This functionality will allow
you to add common bump to the whole material, on top of each layers existing bump.
Glossiness blend

Lets see how we can create an advanced shader that currently is impossible with regular V-ray Material. The effect were looking for is a tail
for the Reflections.

First, well set up a basic metal material in the base slot.

Now, lets copy the material to the next two coat slots and gradually reduce the Glossiness value.

Finally, we just need to adjust the Blend Amount color for both coat slots. Usually, the further the reflections are blurred, the less we want the
layer to be visible. Reduce the second coat amount more.

And here is the result

To make it more interesting, you can use texture instead of color in the Blend Amount slots. Here, were using a simple scratch-map