Nice sea water material?


sorry, I am a material noop.

We’ve got a call that water material was great in Rhino 5, now it’s bad.

Any ideas about a nice water material/environment for ship/sea pictures in Rhino 8 Render?



I’m not sure there is a good “true” water material.

Is it possible for you to use the Blender Ocean modifier and then bake the displacement into a bump map? Given that the usual solution is just scaled noise with various properties, it may be just as valid a method.

Hi @David53,

I am looking for a nice Rhino water material setting, without blender.



Apparently Michael’s client seemed to think the V5 material was OK. So I guess it would help to know where he/she got it: did it come with V5 or from somewhere else? Doesn’t it make the transition over to V8?

I don’t have access to my desktop right now or I would test, but you could see if R8 produces the same results using Nathan’s material:

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Hi @AIW,

yes, he said Rhino 5 standard water. Hm? I’ve tried Rhino 8 water, but got no nice waves.



Hi Material-Fans,

my three quick tests with the two standard Rhino 8 water materials, and Nathans deep water material:

Water_Material_Standard.3dm (1.2 MB)
Deep Water on GP.rmtl (514.1 KB)

I would follow my customer, the standard Rhino 8 material is not usable out of the box for sea rendering.

Who is maintaining Rhinos standard material? Perhaps adding Nathans greenwater, and more seawater materials would be a good idea.



This is my sea with Vray (sorry, it looks a little bad; the source png file is sharp…).


You should change the repeat on the normal map to get the waves better.

Personally I wouldn’t use the ground plane for anything, it is a performance killer.

I think I like the water material in this post best: Renders some glass weird - #5 by nathanletwory

And if you really want nice ocean waters with bigger waves I’d suggest using Blender ocean modifier to create a mesh that you can bring in. In my Raft post that was linked in this topic I also used geometry generated in Blender. That will beat doing wave effects through materials, since you can then just drop in a glass-based material with the color you like and the IOR set to 1.33.

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Hi @nathanletwory,

thank you for the details. My test boat is 14 meters long, you are right the waves should be longer to look nice.

I am just the messenger. :wink: Perhaps the Rhino material maintainer hears this.



We don’t have a water material with normal map like this - I created these myself. They aren’t hard to create.

To change the size of the waves in the materials I created that have normal maps drill into the normal map and change the size/repeat.

That’s sad.

For sure, but noops don’t care and a lot say they don’t want to dig into the material deeps.

I would add your sea material with longer waves to the standard library.

Noobs don’t care, but noobs can always learn.

Adding this particular material will always trigger some noobs and/or experts, since it won’t look great in all situations, requiring people to learn and drill into materials anyway.

Anyway, feel free to distribute the .rtml files I have shared on this forum with your users :slight_smile: They can always start dragging that into their documents!


Hi @Michael_Meyer ,

The Misc folder in the Rhino material library has a “Water Rippled” material you could use. Just convert it to a Physically Based material type after importing. It has a Noise texture in the Bump channel. This is generally the technique used in either a glass or metal material. The background and reflection environment is also a key factor in the look. When using a textured material on the infinite ground plane it is also a good idea to adjust the texture size as shown.

Ocean.3dm (4.3 MB)


Hey @BrianJ,

this works like a charm. What a life saver. :wink:

Thank you very much, and take care


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99% sure the original Rhino 5 is reference to the Flamingo Ocean Water Material. The material @BrianJ shows is made from the same bitmaps that were used originally, but now ship with Rhino. The difference now is by switching it to PBR, there are so many more effects that could be brought into the fold.

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Good @Michael_Meyer asked, I had a similar (unasked) question that is now answered.

The solution leads to a next problem.
A boat IN the water gets a strange ‘parting line’.
When I set the Groundplane to shadows only it reveals that the effect has to do with the material somehow.

How to get that working as expected?
CP_MySea.3dm (5.1 MB)

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If you are expecting a wavy waterline then stop expecting. You can’t get that with normal or bump maps. And a displacement map is not going to work since the ground plane geometry is by necessity not dense enough.

Create actual water geometry to get wavy waterline.

edit addendum:

normal and bump maps are only visual tricks. They do not alter the underlying geometry. The only affect the normals of that geometry. A flat plane is still a flat plane.


Normally I will add an addition small surface around the hull that is displaced a little to show waves against the hull.

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