Photorealistic Plastic?

Hey there,

My main use for Blender right now is rending short scenes of Lego models, as well as Lego spaceship scenes. I’m past the problem now of importing the meshes, but now I’m wondering how to make the Lego bricks more realistic. I’m not sure if this is the right place to post this, because I’m asking more of a specific question than critique in general.

Anyway, here’s a still shot of two Lego minifigures in a room:

I know now that I should have used “set smooth” on those guys’ helmets and things, instead of a subsurf. I also know that better seams between the Lego bricks in the wall would help. But I’m interested in the textures of the bricks. This obviously does not look photorealistic. . . does anyone know how to give the bricks a more “plastic” feel? I’ve seen this done in other 3d programs, so there’s probably a way in Blender as well.

Thanks. . .

sss should help…and ya set smooth the helmets…now! =D…looks like it’ll be sweet soon =D

Yes, agree to all above. And add AO, please.

Don’t Lego bricks have the ‘LEGO’ logo raised on top of the circular nubs? I rendered this once in FormZ and used a bump map to get the effect. Don’t know the best way to achieve this in Blender. Any Blender heads out there got any ideas about how to do that without created millions of vertices?

The only problem with AO and SSS is that it takes massive amounts of render time, and I don’t have a render farm (or whatever) of computers. . .

Perhaps you should try the fake AO suggestions described in this thread:


AO shouldn’t add that much time to an image like that.

If you had particles or intense textures, maybe. But you’ve just got color, specularity, and reflections going on here. Give it a try on a 50% render, and see if you like it.

BTW, what are the specs on your machine?

try rendering with indigo

It’s not that AO takes too long to render one still shot, it’s that I’m dealing with animation here. . . 25 fps over several seconds.

The specs on my machine are pretty low, though. It’s a 1.25GHz PowerPC G4 with 1 Gb RAM.

Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t read that it was an animation. My mistake. Then yeah, I would fake some AO with area and hemi lamps.

Good stuff, keep it coming!

I say just set smooth and maybe lower teh subsurf or what ever you got on it by a little bit but set smooth should do it.

I’ve shrunk the image size down a little, and decided that using AO isn’t so bad. Here’s an approximate comparison of an actual photograph with my Blender scene:

Still not quite the same, but I think it’s getting closer.

great work!! looks real

Yeah, pretty decent looking.

If you replace whatever lamp you’re using with an area lamp, you’ll have the option to make those shadows softer, and get it closer to the original.

Those whatever things they have in their backs seem to have ridges caused by subsurfing to a mesh with triangles. You could add a loop cut to the bottom to make all the triangles flat to avoid this, or join the tris to quads. Also remember you can use both setsmooth and subsurf at the same time.

Lego plastic is a bit reflective, as you have done yet. I dont know how have you set up the lights, but try to increase materials specularity to about .8 and hardness to 80, while using Blinn shader. I would use Oren-Nayar as difuse shader, lowering reflection and play with roughness…

Here’s the latest, I followed your advice:

It’s getting really nice now, thanks for all your help!

its called SSS, plastic has a bunch of it. add it, tweak and TaDA!

It looks great! This isn’t completely relevant, but should the lightsabers have rounded ends?

Do you have subsurf on the floor? The bumps, or juts or how are those called should be beveled on the top. And play a bit more with the shader. Try to make in material nodes a combined one, as you can see in the photo, there is a strong specular reflection in the middle, and almost whole plane reflects something less.