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Baking metallic surfaces in Blender

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I'm making some small metal components as an excercise, and I'd like to bake some fake shine/reflections as the texture, but how do I go about this exactly?

I've never really created materials (other than empty) in Blender and after I tried making some, I was able to get some lamps to cast a shadow onto the object, but the shadows looked very harsh/strong. I want to create a more smooth/overall lighting around the object with some highlights.

I can post pictures of what I have, but I'm looking for advice that can be more generally applied.

I have no preference for Cycles/Blender Render.

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I typically do this while utilizing Cycles. I usually have a cube with inverted normals that has emission materials for all faces, except for the bottom face. The sides of the cube are textured with a "reflection map"-like texture. The top of the cube is textured with a spherical gradient image. It typically looks like this:

lightexample1.png.b407a1e2a71eb5a562b79abdb02ab241.png

I also set the cube to not be visible in the render by going to "Object Properties" ➡️ "Cycles Settings" ➡️ "Ray Visibility" ➡️ Uncheck "Camera". You can adjust how "blurry" the reflection is by either blurring the textures or by adjusting the "Smooth" parameter in the material node.  You can probably do something similar by using a "Background" node for the World material. However, I typically use the cube method because it allows for symmetry in the baking texture for some reason I do not know.

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6 hours ago, Pirschjaeger Fassbinder said:

I typically do this while utilizing Cycles. I usually have a cube with inverted normals that has emission materials for all faces, except for the bottom face. The sides of the cube are textured with a "reflection map"-like texture. The top of the cube is textured with a spherical gradient image.

I also set the cube to not be visible in the render by going to "Object Properties" ➡️ "Cycles Settings" ➡️ "Ray Visibility" ➡️ Uncheck "Camera". You can adjust how "blurry" the reflection is by either blurring the textures or by adjusting the "Smooth" parameter in the material node.  You can probably do something similar by using a "Background" node for the World material. However, I typically use the cube method because it allows for symmetry in the baking texture for some reason I do not know.

Thank you, I think I'm getting somewhere further than I was before (managed to make some really janky reflected bakes) but it's gonna take some time getting comfortable with the node editor.

But, out of curiosity, do you generate that reflection texture from the model or do you use a photo/hand-painting?
Is your emission the literal default settings or do you recommend something else? (And if so, why?)

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The reflection texture is really just a modified free reflection map texture that I found. I basically just searched for either "reflection map" or "environment map". I can't seem to find the original link though. But I bet with some experimenting and referencing a couple of reflection map images, you could create your own in Photoshop or any image editor of your choice with a mix of blurred color blobs and gradients.

For the emission node, I used the light falloff node (quadratic) for strength. The light falloff node is found under the "Color" section of the "Add" menu. I *think* this may smooth the light falloff, but I'm not entirely sure. You can also smooth the light falloff using that node. I set the strength under the light falloff node to 1.000 in that particular example, but you will need to find the optimum value depending bright you want the light and how far the walls of your "light cube" are from the object being baked.

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This probably doesn't apply for cycles, but baking reflections from cycles isn't exactly ideal anyway, but it is worth investigating what you can do with metals based on the matcap system: materials whose diffuse color is determined by the angle of that surface to the camera. Then you can use your favourite cycle-rendered metallic sphere as the source texture.

Results tend to be more stable than baking the reflective material itself.

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Shiny surfaces are fairly easy in Cycles where you can use a mixed shader that contains a diffuse  and glossy (the shine part) for the material you want to reflect.  You want the glossy shader set down to under .100 and the mixed shader set up to  over .900.

Plenty of info on beginning Cycles in my tutorials. Just type in "chic aeon blender tutorials" and you wil find them :D. I have posted them SO MANY TIMES here it is getting rediculous :D.

 

Good luck. Blender Render is disappearing in the next version of Blender so learning Cycles would be appropriate. 

 

image.png.93c775a5faff6e171f3dec8fbe0b16ee.png

 

image.thumb.png.7c91adcd591f7ca4477df4761ad14fa1.png

 

Edited by Chic Aeon
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I know, it's being replaced by eevee. I was merely pointing at an alternative method, (i try to keep metal baking fairly minimal since it tend to work against materials)

Edited by Kyrah Abattoir
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On 10/20/2018 at 2:04 AM, Kyrah Abattoir said:

I know, it's being replaced by eevee. I was merely pointing at an alternative method, (i try to keep metal baking fairly minimal since it tend to work against materials)

Yeah its always situational, its great to have so many ways to do a thing in blender.  By work against materials, do you mean you try and avoid using the normal/spec?

Evee will be so much fun!  I think Cycles will be in 2.8 too along side right?  Its only blender render going away, and nodes will be everywhere.  I love the node system, definitely was odd at first, but the more I use it the more fun & quick it is.

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45 minutes ago, Macrocosm Draegonne said:

Yeah its always situational, its great to have so many ways to do a thing in blender.  By work against materials, do you mean you try and avoid using the normal/spec?

Evee will be so much fun!  I think Cycles will be in 2.8 too along side right?  Its only blender render going away, and nodes will be everywhere.  I love the node system, definitely was odd at first, but the more I use it the more fun & quick it is.

Only Blender Render is going away.  I love nodes too. 

Also in Second Life I rarely use materials. There are no materials used in that shot of the ring. It is all Cycles :D. 

Sansar seems to do a better job with normal maps than SL. Not sure why.    Likely the different atmospheric shaders. 

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22 minutes ago, Chic Aeon said:

Only Blender Render is going away.  I love nodes too. 

Also in Second Life I rarely use materials. There are no materials used in that shot of the ring. It is all Cycles :D. 

Sansar seems to do a better job with normal maps than SL. Not sure why.    Likely the different atmospheric shaders. 

Yea sometimes normals dont come out much, but when I use Reshade they really do their thing more often using the clarity shader, and a few others.  That said, they can without reshade too, but it takes windlight tweaking and other scene lighting to really get the most out of them, and then really what they are makes a difference too, often a normal just wont be seen.  I love normals though, I will even add them in if a creator left them off and its modify perms.  Not everywhere mind you, but it makes a difference in certain things that I enjoy.

Edit:  Sansar has PBR already, and the lighting ooh damn its nice, and damn so many things are nice!  I have a strong suspicion that over time SL will be getting all its own similar goodies, cant say how soon because there's so much going on already that's needed before doing such enhancements.

Edited by Macrocosm Draegonne

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2 hours ago, Macrocosm Draegonne said:

Yeah its always situational, its great to have so many ways to do a thing in blender.  By work against materials, do you mean you try and avoid using the normal/spec?

Evee will be so much fun!  I think Cycles will be in 2.8 too along side right?  Its only blender render going away, and nodes will be everywhere.  I love the node system, definitely was odd at first, but the more I use it the more fun & quick it is.

By that I mean the more things related to lighting and surface detail you bake into your diffuse map, the more those burned in details work "against" SL's dynamic lighting features (lighting, shading, realtime AO, normal maps, specularity, etc). I'm a full on "material" kind of person :P

There is a fine line between "complementing" your diffuse, and burning in so much that you might aswel not use materials at all.

Oh i just read you don't use materials @Chic Aeon well. I guess my advice is of little use to you then.

Edited by Kyrah Abattoir
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