Cycles shaders

I decided I really need to work on my shaders.

Here’s a few I started working on (took me an embarrassing amount of time to get this much). I really want to up my shading game, so I plan on creating as many shaders as it takes for me to become at least a bit comfortable with the process.

There are several things that I am confused/frustrated about.

  1. For procedural textures, it seems there should be an easy way to increase the distance between spots. For instance, when using a voronoi texture, I am able to increase the scale of the spots, but am unsure as to how to space them out from each other, instead of being jam packed in. According to some reference photos, an orange has many small “spots” indented into its skin, akin to pores. One option I thought of was adding another texture layer to act as a layer, but the results are unpredictable and produce cutoff circles and partial shapes.

  2. The mix node. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the MixRGB node and what all the operations do. In the end, I always find myself just experimenting to see what gives me the best result but ultimately becoming frustrated because I don’t know what I’m doing and not getting exactly what I want.

Those are just a couple of things that I could think of off the top of my head. I guess I just need to keep working, seeing as how this is really the first time I have tried to force myself to not use any image textures (except for the wood).

I agree that nodal textures are not exactly intuitive, but the biggest problem with yours is the camera placement of the light. They don’t look bad to me.

The metal and wood look nice, the orange though looks like it has a little too much SSS.

I didn’t use SSS lol

I like the orange!
The biggest thing that I learnt in order to improve my shaders was the fresnel node - your’s don’t appear to have any fresnel effect.

It is quite subtle but greatly enhances the realism of your shaders - it basically is how light tends to reflect off a surface more when it comes in at a low angle. See my example below.

There are lots of great tutorials on using fresnel, unfortunately I can’t find the one that I first saw that made it clear to me…

You are right, I don’t think I ended up using Fresnel. I understand the concept, but sometimes I just plain old forget to use it. I’ll be sure to add it to these shaders and post the results!

It may be because I’ve come from a non nodal material system, but Fresnel is a must for me with anything reflective or refractive.


I added a fresnel element to the shaders. Everything isn’t exactly how I’d like, but at some point you need to move on…lol.

C&C are appreciated

Your shaders look nice, especially wood, but because of the light position there isn’t much shading (transition from shadow to light) on the objects, so they look rather flat.

The maximum output of fresnel (and thus the maximum brightness of reflections) are supposed to drop down to minimum (facing) value of fresnel as roughness go up. The wood looks rough (although no clear environment appears to be reflected so I could be wrong), but the edge reflections still looks kind of bright. This is something Cycles doesn’t automatically handle (glowing edges syndrome).

Video #5 explains how to do it in a PBR-like fashion.

Rock (?) looks kind of flat/smooth, but then again, maybe an eroded rock was the looks you went for.

Metal, looks kind of conflicting. Nothing wrong with having random scratches on it like what appears to be happening in the center of the highlight, but if the other grooves are “production grooves”, then the anisotropic direction should be perpendicular to those rather than parallel. I may be reading the image wrong though.

I agree with others. The bigger problem is with lighting. Also, consider multiple glossy nodes of various quality and normal mapping. Complex materials will reflect light differently depending on how deep into the material light travels (wood, orange), or might have micro-level bits that scatter back light, while other bits that reflect more directly (stone). One thing that really helped me is knowing that each node can have it’s own normal/bump map. This is very useful in designing reflections.

Polished wood in particular is very complex and benefits from anisotropy with detailed rotation mapping:

Once you have a feel for what the parameters do, the differences in conductive and non-conductive materials, how to use SSS and translucency and volume look carefully at materials around you and try thinking about how they interact, especially in special lighting scenarios, such as backlit and oblique. Compare your observations with the parameters.