Help needed for better grasp of Nodes

Hey all! This is my first post here, though I’ve benefited from your support threads all the way from day one! You guys rule. I figured it was time to join, though I’ll not be helping much yet, I’m barely 4 months in blender!

Anyway, I’d like a little bit of help regarding nodes, if anyone can spare the time. I don’t have a very healthy understanding of the shading nodes, though I can do some stuff there on my own, I’ve mostly learnt through following tutorials, but they never stop to explain the reasoning or mechanics.

Right now I’m playing around trying to texture a word. I’ve turned my letters into a mesh, I’ve got something decent, but here is the catch : I’d like to make the red edge metallic, and the blue part dull, and I have no idea HOW. I have a hunch that I should probably plug my wave into something and that something into the metallic and roughness input, but whatever I try doesn’t work and I’m groping in the dark. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Cheers everyone!

Answering my own topic just to add an extra visual, since n00bs like me can’t join more than 1 image :
Screen Shot 2020-02-08 at 22.58.55

You could very easily duplicate that red/green colour ramp and switch it to black and white, and plug that into the metallic input. Black and white colours act as 0 and 1 inputs too.

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So what’s the difference between red and blue? Hue.

Separate HSV on your color ramp output. Using a map range node, remap hue from 0.67, 0 (blue, red) to 0, 1 (metallic, not metallic), clamped, and run that into metallic input.

Are the borders-- the interpolation between red and blue-- not want you want? Drop an RGB curves node between the map range and the metallic and tweak that curve.

This isn’t necessarily the simplest way to get what you want, but it sounds like you’re looking for something more general than that: techniquest that lead to a better understanding of how the nodes work.

What I see people do a lot is just drop a color ramp down and play with it until it’s right. Which isn’t a way to get a good understanding, it’s just trial and error.

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Simply put the factor from the wave to the metallic slot.
Best way learning nodes is enabling “node Wrangler addon”, then “shift+ctrl+click” on texture shows what does what. (Black=no Metallic ,white=full metallic)
Use cycles if there are problems, eevee usually needs special settings e.g. for reflections. One object is useless to set reflections, it is best to use a studio “hdri”. :wink:
generally =

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Think of the node tree like a snippet of code, or like instructions if you’re not familiar with code. Read them from right to left. From your screenshot, it would be as follows : “the surface shader’s base color is a ramp that shifts from red to blue depending on the color of a wave texture…”, and so on. As @bandages said you have to know that black and white translates to numbers (0 and 1 -and beyond, although we can’t see it on a computer monitor), and color is just three numbers assembled - which can be disassembled. Same goes for the blue sockets : they’re vectors, so three values assembled just like colors, except these can go below zero.

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Thanks a lot for the various explanations everyone! Gleamed a fair bit of insight, and @MarioPeper that’s a very useful link, I’ll be reading this guy’s explanations of nodes!
I do use the wrangler adon, but like with everything, I’m still pretty limited to “what I’ve seen done”. I really ought to read up on it though.

Thanks a lot @bandages, I managed to make it work!

You guys are stars!

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Thanks @Blendy_Lass Nodes are really an inexhaustible playground, but once you understand the basics, the whole picture quickly becomes clearer