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Glossy Materials in Cycles: The Right Way

The first time you make a glossy material in Blender you might think “Easy! I’ll just set the material to Glossy BSDF and change the colour to whatever I want”. But if you end up with something that looks more like a weird tinted chrome than any realistic plastic material, then you’re missing the most important node for getting lifelike materials: the fresnel node.

Real life materials have different properties depending on which angle you look at them from, and they’re generally shinier the shallower the angle. This is why you might see a reflection of the horizon in a lake or a river, but you will find it hard to see your own reflection in it looking down .

Luckily, this is very easy to implement in Blender and a single node can make a huge difference:

simple glossy vs fresnel node

All you need to do is combine a diffuse with a glossy shader using a mix node, that takes fresnel (shift-A –> inputs –> fresnel) as the “factor”, as you can see below. Make sure any colour you add applies to the diffuse material only: in reality, reflections are almost always pure white. The colour that shiny materials appear to be is due to underlying diffuse properties.


Thanks for reading. If you found this useful, feel free to share it with all your friends who are guilty of using bad glossy shaders!


Published in Tutorials

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