[CYCLES] Metal and composite-with paint, rivets, panel lines, ripples; FIGHTERJETS

Hi all. I hope to finish this challenge, providing so a good reference for every 3D Artist, expecially for Blender artists (in facts, Cycles).

I like to have good reference and theory book on almost everything I encounter, but for 3D, and expecially for photorealistic fighter jets, it’s not so simple.
Witold’s book is an outstanding reference, but it deals with Blender internal.

Let’s see what’s all about:

I have got this hi-poly mesh (for now I can’t release it under CC license, but in the future I will release a similar mesh under CC-BY-NC):

I almost ready to unwrapp, but I started some test with a vertical rudder.

What I want to achieve, is a perfect photorealism with Cycles.

For fighter jets, the materials are almost alluminum, titanium, fiber glass and carbon fiber.
Then, there’s an anticorrosive coating (yellow or light water green). Over this coating, there’s tha actual paint (it’s similar in most cases, except for Radar-Absorbing Coating and paints, a bit less reflective).

Some reference photos about fighter jets before paint:

Su-35BM - 4.5th generation (source: Knaapo)

PAK FA - 5th generation (source: Knaapo)


F-22 Raptor - 5th generation:


F-35 - 5th generation:

Center Fuselage - Assembly line

Some reference photos about fighter jets after paint:

Su-35 - 4.5th generation (Soruce: Knaapo)
Bort 902
Bort 901 and 902

PAK FA - 5th generation:

Flight - camouflage

F-22 - 5th generation:
Gallery #1

F-35 - 5th generation:

Presentation light

[/INDENT]Just to have an idea of the different materials for the present Fighter Jets (4.5th has got similar materials to either 3rd, 4th and 5th generation fighter jets).


Now two pictures of the same fighter, Su-35S, representing the tail during the assembly and after the paint over:

Ok, i was thinking about a mix shader, wich mixes a diffuse and a glossy shader (both with the diffuse map texture as input color); the cator for the mix shader, a sepcular map texture (black for diffuse, white for glossy); even the output mixed again with the glossy shader, using a fresnel node as factor.

The diffuse map will include the basic color (the camouflage), with little variation to avoid ‘flattness’, and the wheatering (like the scale models, a paintover of dirt, scratches, etc.); the specular map will be a light grey, going to black when the reflectiveness will be less important, and to white where the reflectiveness will be more important (i.e. metal panels, screws, rivets and scratches).

The bump map will be a grey map, with black lines for panel lines, white lines for bumping panel lines, and white points for rivets and screws. In addition, to simulate rippling, a sponge-brush whitening where the rippling will be more important. Of course, a good gaussian blur after all.
I was thinking even to realize an hi-poly model, consisting of a plane with panels, rivets and scres over it, do a z-buffer render, and use it to copy/paste the perticulars to be more accurate.

First issue: the displacement

I having some troubles with the displacement/bumping in Cycles. I tried either Bump, True and Both.
I have a lot of problems with ‘Bump’ (feture set to ‘experimental’, displacement set to ‘bump’).

Using Both (True + Displacement), I noticed promising results with a test cube… but wit 64 faces, and with Subsurf level 6!!! It’s improponible with the hi-poly fighter jet (it will be easier and less compute-demaning to model each panel manually and using instances for the screws and rivets… but it remains too polygons-expensive).

Now I will start another series of tests, and I will post the results and also the compelte .blend file.

I hope someone has got some advice to post, while I’m working on this last (for now) test.

You can find a complete proposal of the Cycles material for the aircraft skin in the book “Virtual Airplane: Excerpt III (Materials and Textures)”. It shows how to built it - step by step. It also explains why we have to implement each of the described effects. The details about this book you can find on this page

I am doing a similar project, albeit with the Su-30MKI instead of the Su-35. Let me know if you come across a breakthrough - it could help! Thanks in advance!