Realistic milkshake material

Hi guys, I’ve been working on this project for a week now and I need some help to get the final render out.

I’m modeling several objects that will be part of the splash of a milkshake, and the modeling has been approved but I’m having a hard time creating a convincing material for it.

I’m posting several images so you can get an idea of what it needs to look like.

This is the reference piece:

And this is the comp I did with the photo the client provided:

Basically what the client said was: “We like the reference but it looks too plastic, we need our piece to be much more realistic”…

I’ve tried several material setups but can’t get it quite yet. This is the last node setup I used:

Any ideas? Any help is greatly appreciated guys :slight_smile:


That’s one heck of a nice sculpted shake. I really can’t help you much on additional material recommendations, but do you think having a little bit of drizzled chocolate syrup within the sculpture portion could help integrate it better?

I look forward to seeing what you end up with, but the concept is very cool…just like that milkshake :slight_smile:

In my opinion try the following:

  1. Remove the facing and colour ramp from your glossy roughness. Give the roughness a low-ish value (say 0.05 - 0.1). Also - give the glossy colour slot a slight tinge of pink colour (not pure white) and perhaps turn it down just a tad (say 0.8-0.9 on the red).

  2. Add a fresnel input node into the fac slot of your top mix node to give more accurate reflections. Give the fresnel an IOR of perhaps 1.8-2.0.

  3. Perhaps consider turning down the power on your environment light just a tad - looks just a little too bright for my eyes - although the changes to the glossy node may address this.

  4. I’m not sure you have activated depth of field on the camera. Looking at the depth of field in the photo - some of your sculpt should be out of focus (the front and the rear). Compare the sharp focus at the rim of the cup to the slight fuzziness at the base - as well as the straws on the table - this gives the photograph a feeling of depth .

The focal plane of the photo seems to be around where your guy is - but this means that houses and mountains behind him should be slightly out of focus - as should the splashes in front. The sculpt being entirely in focus is what is contributing to it’s plastic/fake look.

Thank’s @moony, I’ll try that and post the render to see if it gets better :slight_smile:

@harleynut97, I said the same about the chocolate syrup but the client said no, they just want a pure milkshake splash.

Don’t forget to post an updated pic - it’s nice to see if the advice actually made a difference :wink:

your fist pic show only the milk part !
so what material do you have problem the milk part or the ice cream part ?

happy bl

There is no ice cream part. The material the OP needs help with is the pink sculpted milk splash in the second image (the first image is just a reference example).

The cup, straws and everything on the table in the second image is a photograph that the OP has used to overlay his sculpted splash object onto.

then the color is way off too pinkish
also may be too much shadow

First pic looks more like AO ambient and super bright white !

happy bl

The OP isn’t trying to make it look exactly like the first pic - they are just using the first pic as a reference to get the look and feel of their sculpt broadly correct.

The material in the second image is supposed to match the colour of the liquid in the cup which is distinctly pink. I think the colour looks correct.

Just sent another one to the client, this time there’s no SSS component, I replaced it with a diffuse shader for the color and the rest of the node tree is pretty much the same. Also put the bump way lower, almost non existent hehe.

@moony, your advice on the spec color helped a bit, but I think that using the fresnel as a fac to mix color and glossy doesn’t help that much.

Anyway here it is, I believe the last one was better, what do you think?

I might be wrong, but I think a part of the problem is that the lighting situations of the render and the compositing background don’t seem to match…

Looking at the shadows from the cup and the cookies and the straws, the light in that photo seems to come from the back left, while your render has a strong lighting component from the front right.

I see your dilemma, you want to give more light to the intricate sculpting detail on the front, but especially on the mountain top it’s rather the lighting than the materials that look a bit fake…

I think you do need the SSS node - it looks too solid without it.

You also need the depth of field…without that it looks like your model is superimposed.

Not sure why the Fresnel mix didn’t work for you. I swear by that approach when simulating liquids or plastic. It makes the reflections at glancing angles a little stronger than when viewing straight on - which should help with the sense of reality. Just look how the reflection on the glass gets stronger round the sides.

If you could post the blend file (or - since it is a commercial piece - a cut down version of it - just part of the sculpt plus the environment light) - i’d be happy to have a play.

Yep - i’d also agree with this. The right side of the mountains needs to be a bit darker than the left.

OP - how are you lighting this - are you using mesh/area lamps as well as HDRI environment?

The lighting is just an enviroment map, no other lights are being used.

@moony, the DOF is there, maybe I have to make it stronger, I’ll check on that. And I’ll use the fresnel to control the specular roughness, because I don’t like how it looks controlling the mix of color and glossy.

@IkariShinji, yes the lighting seems different; the bg photo is also a mix of several photos (done by the client, not me) with lighting coming from both sides of the image; In this last render I rotated the env map so the stronger light source came from the left side, although I’l try and put it on the back left, and see how it goes.

I’ll bring back the SSS, because this looks way too plastic as it is.

Thank you guys!

Take an RGB sample of several spots on the composite photograph of “the actual milkshake in the cup,” and average them. That must be, fairly exactly, the base color of your material. A few samples taken on the side of the cup will provide your specular-highlights color, which should be toned-down a little because you’re also seeing the plastic.

Actually, a better representative “specular highlights” color would be taken from the sides of the out-of-focus glasses in the background.

The difference between the background-glass side color and the foreground-glass side color will give you an idea of the proper color temperatures for the highlights on the animation: that’s the color of the lights that are “illuminating” everything on the set, and they must agree. You can see, therefore, that the face of the purse is much too bright, but also that it is not nearly blue enough.

You can barely tell its on if it is at all - the entire sculpt looks to be in sharp focus which is not correct. The photograph itself has a relatively shallow depth of field which you need to try and replicate if your sculpt is to integrate properly into the scene.

That might well be “the client’s call,” though. On the one hand, this should look “realistic,” but on the other hand, it is an advertising(!) fantasy. The client may well want the animation to be in sharp focus. Certainly, what I would do is to render the thing in razor focus, then offer them the option of a shot that involves some amount of blur … say, one set by means of a gradient … which is accomplished in post-production. (The client will neither know nor care.)

Could be - but I was basing my advice/opinions on the clients comment from the OP.

“We like the reference but it looks too plastic, we need our piece to be much more realistic

When merging CG with ‘live action’ - it helps the sense of realism if things like DOF etc are replicated correctly - especially when the live action in question has a narrow DOF like the client’s photograph does.

I gave it a try.

I would mix in some strawberry ( chocolat in my example) and a little noise texture on the displacement for a grain.

Nice composition! Good luck


Your last image is wrong IMHO, too metallic, the first was better but your node tree doesn’t look correct for milkshake: it is not ice cream, there must be no ice in it, so there’s no reason for the glossy roughness to be modulated by Layer Weight, it should be rather uniform and very low.
I would start from scratch with a simpler material, a mix of diffuse and SSS (or translucence) with the addition of glossiness (neutral grey glossiness, and added, not mixed, otherwise you get some metallicity).

Another aspect is the clear background, it doesn’t help for sure, you can’t play with grazing lighting or back lighting shining trough the thinner parts, and the general contrast of the image suffers because of this.

I think your client with "more realistic "can mean “more three-dimensional”; In fact, the reference image does not seem to me more realistic, just more of effect.
This is also why a darker background would be preferable.