Plastic nation

This started as an experiment with some plastic shaders in Blender.
I have always been slight frustrated by my shaders as they looked slightly wrong and I didn’t know why.
I read some comments from Logan Ball about setting up shaders in Cycles and was intrigued to see if it worked.
You can see more on his google page

Basically he suggested always having a glossy shader mixed with another shader and to use a mix value based on the index of refraction of the material you want to emulate. No more using random mix factors on materials!
If you are a blender cycles user the tip for getting this plastic look is using a RGB curve to mix glossy and diffuse shaders. There is an image attached below.

Now these shaders are not perfect, there are more accurate ways to do this, but for a quick and dirty set up it works well.

A lot of a materials visual qualities depend on the reflections, you could use a HDRI image for the sky or some colour ramps as I did here. Also add some random off screen meshes and lights to reflect back into your scene. A wide angle lens on the camera with some mild DOF also helps.

After setting you curves for various materials ( experiment! ) you can adjust glossiness values and colours. Use some mild textures with a bump map to mix into the normal socket of the gloss shader to break up the sheen.
I also mixed in a little sss and translucency on some of the materials, but found it made only a small difference, maybe it depends on the lighting, if it was coming from behind you would notice it more.

My daughter has hundreds of plastic toys left lying around the house so there was tons of inspiration. Also have put in a few of my own designs. Some are from a project a few years ago where i was commissioned to produce around 30 vinyl toys. The commissioner dropped out right at the end and I never knew why ( though he did pay most of the money! )

And some more



holy smokes


Great colors! beautiful render. The plastic look great!

Maybe you want to try what i call the grant warvick plastic where you not only have a fresnel för diffuse and specular but also for the roughness. the steeper angle the more reflection(less roughness). This have worked great for me and add a bit more realism :slight_smile:

for more information:

the thea render has the effect built in:


grant warvick vray tutorials

(hope this tip wasnt an overkill in your thread) :slight_smile:

Whoppaa, there is a lot of work behind these!

Yes thats a great tip!
Actually I do use that on some of the materials but not all, also good for roughness value on the refraction shader as well. Curves all the way!

Wow! I love the lego Homer picture.XD To make your plastic even better, you might consider a couple things. Most plastic tends to have subsurface scattering and/or translucency. You can get both of the effects by replacing your diffuse shader with a subsurface scattering shader using a scale of about 0.01, and adding translucency with the translucency node. Use an add shader to mix the output of your Mix shader with the translucency. Finally, more angular reflections. You already added a fresnel node to mix the diffuse/glossy. This time, and a Layer Weight node, and plug the facing output into the glossy roughness. Then invert it, and attach a colorramp and play with the values. This will make the reflections sharper at grazing angles, which adds a TON to the realism.;D

Thanks for the comments and advice.

I have no clue how the add shader works, so have never used it.
Is it a bit like the add mode used in composting?

Absolutely stunning stuff.

It’s similar to the Mix Shader node, but instead of mixing the two shaders with a factor, it simply adds one shader on top of the other. This isn’t actually “physically accurate”, but it works well for adding translucency.:smiley:

Just wanted to add this here, but this post has helped me a lot with materials. Even though my materials may not be 100% correct as yours, I’ve learned a lot from it.