Material Madness, Madness, Madness

I like modeling, but don’t usually mess with my drawings too much for their presentation. Sure, I make materials, just to make coffee-break renders for myself.

Well, for the last 2 weeks or so, I have been working on a diner project, and this time, I am trying to make nice materials, and fuss with the lighting. Because it’s dark and moody, it’s not the easiest thing to light or render. I’ve been pestering someone at McNeel about renderers, and not only hasn’t he hit out on me, he’s been really helpful, so all is well.

Currently, I’ve been using a stainless-steel material that has a texturemap, reflection, and that reflection is also adjusted. Currently, I am not using a bumpmap. If I do, the amount has to be very small, and a copy of the material will have to be unbaked from this and made. But I wanted to do a translucent texture map first.

Though, I found that my stainless steel wasn’t nice. At first glance, it doesn’t look bad as far as seamlessly repeating:

But when I render my night scene, I was seeing this in the darkest corner of my drawing:

So, at night, the Material is hitting the crushed-blacks thing, but I suspected that contrast was going up, because of my night lighting, so, in Photoshop, I cranked the contrast up several times, like 400% to get this:

A-Ha! I said out loud. So I fixed it, and randomized the mappings, so it’s looking better:


I also wanted to experiment with a bit of the old fake volumetric light. Oddly, Cycles actually can actually do volumetric light, but it may take some time to have it implemented, because there’s a lot of effort going on on other things. Still, I wanted to try it the old fashioned way.

[Oddly, in old Id games, they used a conical surface to make volumetric lights, but I thought I would try it in the old manual billboard, imposter style.]

I made a texture in Photoshop which approximated a volumetric light cone. This one was tricky because I knew that it needed to be smooth. If you resize things a few times, you should consider them ruined.

Anyway, I used 3 gradients to do it, with drawing modes/logic set to make one beam. I also used a full-sized black background, at this point. Then I made a Copy-Merged copy of the layer stack. (Remember, it’s still in the copy-buffer)

And here’s the tricky part. I needed a white texture, that an alpha-map that showed the light-beam. So, I made another layer, and made a full-sized block of white across the whole layer.

Then I changed to the Quick Mask mode, and pasted in my copied image, which shows up Rubilith red. I switch the mode back, and now I have a section.

And that selection allows to delete everything that’s not a lightbeam.
And then I shut off the other layers, and save a copy as a .png, which looks like this:

Inside Rhino, I throw down a plane, and put on, and then map the texture on the plane like this:

In this image, I cranked down the transparency, but it would look better if it were more transparent.

There’s a dark spot in center, and also, theoretically, these beams will leave shadows because it’s not just additive, but it was a fun experiment.

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