Shading and Lighting


So, while setting up my laptop to handle the 3D freelancer thing, I been thinking about writing a book about shading and lighting, not that I know much about it, but because I want to share my approach, at least for starters, it can help others to understand another way of thinking about shading and lighting in 3D. No book for now, not even soon I believe, have a read and let me know if you would like more information like this.

Function, form and looks (?)

Right, I know you are tired of “watching the real world” and what not, but it really works. At least for me. Starting to see the patterns, thinking about the noisy nodes to use, the category on to use as texture overlays, to break the regularity you get out of using too many procedural nodes. So, like everything, it’s a creative process. You start to analyse the main patterns, the main characteristics of a surface, which is all around us, the teapot, the sunglasses, the fabric, the couch, the lamp, everything is reference for us.


It’s even better if you understand what type of material is it, why that particular object is made out of that material? Ask questions, many, how weathering is affecting the object, is it rusty for protection? where rust builds up? Point the phone light to the object and watch the reflections. It’s so easy, and sometimes we just take a photo, for me it’s not enough, I need to see with my eyes and move the head around to watch the reflection roughness, patterns, and reflection’s falloff, fresnel.


You see? It’s all about solving problems. You have to free your mind from thoughts and focus to solve it. If you couldn’t get the job, you have a problem, a big problem to solve. So you try and try and you can’t solve it until you focus properly and have a creative idea. So my idea to solve my own problem is to write a book about shading and lighting. :) A different way to look at the world around us, listen and watch the inspiration all around us. Get inspiration from everything, but wait! This will be a very technical book about nodes and recreating various different patterns from real world examples. Let’s see for example:


How would you approach something like this close up moss? Displacement? X-gen or particles distribution scripts? So many different techniques could be applied, so it’s not only about shading. Everything you see can see around you can be recreated by us, with mouse clicks.

Make sure you have a plan, don’t try to make the wheel spin in the first day, it will snap. A good problem solver does not fear the challenge neither the competition, because he is so focus that he knows where to go and where the swords are coming from. Oh, and most of the times highly paid.

what you see is what you get


What do you see in this image? I see that to recreate the stones, I would need some sort of system to give them different colors. A script? maybe. We would also need some sort of texture to recreate the bumpiness, even some slight displacement to add some believability. Keep the geometry as clean as possible. So next time you need the asset is not all messed up because you done some editing on it.

Then we start to see particular patterns, white spots, black spots, and more. For these we will need to apply some textures, maybe a triplanar projection can do the trick. Is not that complicated is it? Look and see. Everything as a purpose. Why is that particular spot there? What made the stone look so dirty? If you ask these questions you will be able to have a good understanding of the subject.


STOP and watch, listen

In this particular image, compared to what I see with my eyes is nothing, of course this is just a phone photo, but still you can see so much more if you look with your eyes, then it’s a matter of having a photo to compare with what you have written about the patterns and characteristics of the material itself. With the photo reference you can use it for texturing and for photoreal approach.

And if you look close enough, or at least careful enough, nature itself at that point will ask you to be reproduced by you. At least that’s what I feel.


A simple noise node, corrected by a remapHsv node, so one can have control of the roughness amount. Now shading and texturing, it’s a matter of layering more and more detail. Overall noise, scratches and dust. Then particular patterns that we identify, those we might need to use bitmaps instead of procedural nodes. Well, it all depends right? But somehow, in the end of the day we need to deliver and be happy with the result. I know how it is to put a project on the shelf, for months, even years, but we need to deliver, that’s what I learned from working one week in the industry :D

Shading and lighting book?

So, I had this idea of writing a book. The book it’s about gathering a lot of reference and study the world around me, in terms of materials and lighting, color, etc. Then do real world examples, with maya, arnold vray and mental ray, so one can show how easy is to adapt to any render engine. Mental ray you say? You just have to love the Mila development, use all of the render engines if you need or want to. Being a fan boy of arnold didnt help me that much when I came to a company where they use mostly vray.

So, before I close therenderblog I will do a promotion, so you guys can get my courses before I take it down. There is a new campaign so you get all the courses listed on the products section, 50$. Use the link on the sidebar to checkout or using this link .

Have fun

you guys don’t forget to have fun, go see some live music, I wish I had this is my country. That’s why I am staying in London for a while, I like it here. I hope this book idea can help me to pay the hostel and my cigarettes . :~)

Thank you for reading therenderblog and see you soon,
João Chaves