Ok, this has probably been mentioned before, but I was trying to find out how to do it and wasn’t able to find exactly what I was looking for.
Nearly every tutorial for blender that discusses an alternative to raytracing for reflections talks about environment maps.
Well, while environment maps may be quicker to render, its a lot of work to set them up just to get some material to look like reflective chrome or metal.
Keep in mind that the look of a reflective object is mostly due to what it reflects. So with that in mind, if you want to choose a texture, choose one based on its colors. Another thing is, blender’s texture blurring option leaves a little to be desired in terms of quality, so if you cant get it blurry AND smooth enough in blender, just use gimp and apply a guassian blur filter.
Ok here we go with the tutorial. Its really simple.
load an empty scene.
Place “monkey” as a mesh in the scene. (The monkey is a good choice for testing reflective materials.)
Apply a material to the monkey.
In the material settings add a new texture.
In the texture window (f6) choose “Image” and load your image that you want to use as a reflection.
Go back to the Material settings (f5) and select the “Map Input” tab. Here change the settings to “Refl” and “Sphe”
Now select the “Map To” tab. Here activate the following options:
“Col” “Ref” and “Emit”
Now press f12 to render and your mesh should look metallic (depending on the image that you chose.)
These settings will give you a 100% reflective mesh. If you want to have a different base color, e.g. blue chrome or gold, then lower the “col” setting in the “Map To” tab. Then apply a color in the “Material” tab.
Keep in mind, this will NOT give you accurate reflections, this is just if you need something to look metallic and you dont want to spend time building and environment around your object so it has something to reflect.