In your journey as a 3d artist, you might have encountered several (if not all) astounding works of art. And through close inspection, you’ll notice that we barely see them without textures. That is because textures are one of the most important aspect of 3d, but still, this doesn’t apply to all. But adding textures to your characters, props, environment, etc. will greatly add to the aesthetic factor of your image that you wouldn’t believe it would.
There are a number of ways to add texture to your objects in 3D such as UV mapping techniques, projections, 2D painting, etc. All of these depend entirely on what kind of render are you trying to achieve. But for the sake of this article, we’ll try to achieve some nice looking textures without having to worry about the complex tasks involved with it. And with this, we’ll be using the ever famous and useful procedural textures to create seamless and continuously looking texture mapped over the surface of our models.
More information about Procedural Textures can be found on http://www.blender.org/development/release-logs/blender-233/procedural-textures/.
Now let’s add some textures, shall we?
Let’s select the character model in our scene then go to the Texture tab on the rightmost part of the Material Buttons window and click Add New to add a new texture.
After having added a new texture, additional windows appear allowing us to further modify how the currently added texture will affect our material. Name this first texture as “bump” and the mapping options can be seen below.
Bump Texture Mapping Settings
Bump Texture Settings
Add another texture below the “bump” texture and call it “stain”. The settings can be seen below.
Stain Texture Mapping Settings
Stain Texture Settings
We could have added more overlaying textures, but this will do for now just so we could see how the textures have affected our material so far. Rendering now will only lead us to the image below.
Dirtier And Better 🙂
This time might be a good idea to change our framing and staging so we could look at it at a better perspective. Changing the camera angle and increasing the ground plane’s scale and some adjustments on the spheres, I achieved something like this:
New Camera Angle
For an even better interaction from within the scene, we will adjust some material settings to simulate hard and reflective surfaces. It’s a little unfair to give our main character some good materials while neglecting the other stuff we have. So let’s just get on, and add some decent materials as replacement to the initial materials that both the spheres have had before.
Go on and select the larger sphere and edit the current material we have so it would match that of the settings as seen in the image below.
You’ll notice I added a Color Ramp to each of the materials, this is to slightly give the color a color transition as would be seen in the natural world, in addition to the current diffuse it already has.
The vital part of the shading process of the Spheres is the reflectivity and mirror options as you can see in the following table:
Green Sphere Material Settings
Blue Sphere Material Settings
Our render would now look like this:
Reflections to Simulate Mirror Effect and Smoothness
To nearly finalize this part, we now deal with adding a texture to the world and varying the colors that would affect the Occlusion effect.
To do so, let’s first change the Horizon and Zenith color of our World and change the Ambient Occlusion diffuse energy to the color we’ve just set by changing from “Plain” to “Sky Color”, as seen below.
Rendering now will lead us to:
New World Settings Render
Notice the subtle difference between the previous render and the latest one where the slight bluish hue is more distinguishable.
And then lastly, since we’ve already added some decent reflective material over to our spheres, it would be best if we can also see some environment being reflected over, to add to the already existent character as one of the objects being reflected.
To do this, we’re going to add a texture to our World. This is one nifty tool in simulating an environment since we don’t have to do the hard work in manually creating the objects that are going to be reflected. Not only does it save us a lot of time but also the ease by which we can alter these environment is already a big advantage that we have at our hands.
So to do this, let’s go ahead and go to our Shading (F5) and select World Buttons. Scroll to the far left side and you’ll see tabs labeled “Texture and Input” and “Map To”, both of these tabs are essential in setting up our World texture so pay close attention to them.
Below is an image that further shows you what we need to set up (sorry for the sudden theme change).
You might have already guessed what we should do next, if not, I’ll continue on. After heading over to the “Texture and Input” and “Map To” tabs, let’s first focus on what’s active by default, that is, “Texture and Input”. In this part, we’ll only need a few things to get started. First is to click “Add New” to add a new texture datablock to our blender scene, after which, let’s edit the name of our texture and name it “environment”, then change the coordinates from “View” to “AngMap” to use a 360 degree angular coordinate, you’ll see why in awhile.
Adding a World Texture
After applying these initial settings, we’ll go ahead and proceed to the actual texturing process, which, as far as the World is concerned is just a very quick process. I suppose you’re still on the same Buttons window that we’re on last time. Click on the Texture button or press F6 on your function keys. Bam! Another set of Windows. You’ll see here that the texture we named “environment” awhile back is now reflected over to one of the texture slots, just like what we previously did with texturing the character we have. But this time, instead of choosing procedural textures like Clouds, Voronoi, Noise, etc., we’ll now be dealing with an image texture, as in our case, an HDRi (High Dynamic Range Image). Our purpose in using an HDR image is to simulate the wide range of intensity levels (brightness and darkness) that is seen in reality and apply these settings over to our world, thus reflected upon by our objects. As in our case, we’ll be using high dynamic range images as light probes which are oriented 360 degrees and that’s the very reason why we chose “AngMap” as our World texture coordinate.
More info about HDRi can be seen at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_dynamic_range_imaging and you can download Light Probe Images over at Paul Debevec’s collection at http://www.debevec.org/Probes. Save your downloaded light probe images somewhere you can easily identify them with. I couldn’t stress enough how file organization can greatly help you in your career. You could just imagine how frustrating it is to find assets among a thousand you already have, without properly placing them in their right places, this counts for every project you have as well .
So to open up our Light Probe Image as texture to our World, click the drop down menu and choose “Image” as your texture type. This tells Blender to use an image instead of the default procedural textures. Then head to the far right side to locate the Image tab with a Load button on it. Let’s skip the Map Image tab for now.
Image as Texture Type
Loading an Image Texture
Browse over at your downloaded HDR image (which should have an extension of .hdr) and confirm. Now that the image is loaded, let’s leave the default settings as they are since we wouldn’t be using them that much. You’ll see on the far left Preview just how wonderful looking our image is. But rendering your scene right now would yield to nothing but the same previous render we’ve had. So if you’re itching to get this image right at our scene (which I am too), go back to your World Settings and head over to the “Map To” tab just beside “Texture and Input” then deselect “Blend” and select “Hori” instead. Kabam! Now we’re all set!
World Texture Mapping options
And now, the moment we’ve all been eagerly waiting for, the Render! Yup, go ahead and render and it would (luckily) look like the image below.
Render with HDRi Environment
Then finally, on the next and last part of this article, we’ll look on how we can even further add realism to our scene by simulating camera lenses and further enhancing the tone of the image with Composite Nodes.