Shader Forge

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Shader Forge

This course is an on-going series about constructing materials (shaders) for the Cycles render engine. With enough time and effort, materiality can breathe such life into a CG scene. On the other hand, lackluster materials can suck the life out of an otherwise high-quality scene.

3D Print Resin

Always on the look-out for a new way to present 3D models, in this lesson I explore a specific kind of 3D print resin that seems tailor-made to accentuate form and shape.

Bodies of Water

This chapter involves light refraction and absorption as characteristics of water collections.

Brushed Metal

A specific finish for metallic objects, brushed metal's key characteristic is the 'stretching' of reflections across a model's surface. It's common with kitchen appliances, jewelry, household accessories, and more.

Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber is a great material that can be used anywhere from the trim on a fancy sports car to a scraped up sci-fi helmet. Since it can be molded into practically any shape and can be ten times stronger (and five times lighter!) than steel, carbon fiber goes well with anything high tech.

Car Paint

Vehicle rendering is one of the most popular uses of computer graphics. Car paint has a specific look and feel that leans heavily on the concept of "fresnel".

Clip Art

Sure it's not 1995 anymore, but turning your 3D model into clip art is totally cool! Plus this shader exposes you to some unconventional usage of nodes.


This is the optical phenomenon that occurs when light passes through transparent material causing the separation of the color spectrum.

Gemstones & Ice

Dazzling gems and crystals are relevant to jewelry, pirate treasure, a monarch's crown, and anything else that needs bedazzling. The emphasis in this chapter is on manipulating complex refractions despite an object's simple surface.


This precious metal focuses on reflection and bump texture as it's primary characteristics of surface quality. Additionally, the last lesson demonstrates the consolidation process of a node group.


Leather makes a good procedural candidate because it’s used often for things like car interiors, furniture, and clothing among others. So an artist’s material library benefits from having a flexible material that’s not restricted by image textures and UVs.


A natural stone that’s used often in architecture, countertops, tile, and statues/sculptures among other things.


Create a shader group node based on a modern standard.


This is the white stuff that falls from the sky during the winter time.

Speed Boost

A simple trick to speed up render times for materials using bump maps.


Expert-level lesson about procedural wood grain. NOTE: This is from guest author Bartek Skorupa.

Master Material Creation

This course is an on-going series about constructing materials (shaders) for the Cycles render engine. With enough time and effort, quality shading can breathe such life into a CG scene. On the other hand, lackluster materials can suck the life out of an otherwise high-quality scene. So shaders are very important and can be a powersful tool in the digital artist’s utility belt.

Lesson Questions and Answers

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  • Replies: 1

    Technique flow question:
    When building an object (i.e. Gold) am I correct to fist SET the gold color I want using LAMPS, then once satified, shift over to using HDRIs for lighting and hiding the original lighting when creating the object(s)?
    I think I may be getting ahead of myself in creating and moving from Light to HDRI especially in the metals and marbles…

    3 weeks ago

    • Replies: 1

      I usually establish the lighting of my scene before establishing materials. This approach is often called “clay render” where we light the scene as if everything shares the same mid-grey diffuse material to clearly indicate light levels and colors.

      I wouldn’t recommend lighting with lamps, then establishing materials, then use an HDRi instead of lamps. That’s likely going to make your materials look a little different than you were used to with the lamps.

      2 weeks ago

      • Thanks…seem reasonable. for a beginner like me since much of this patmos project will be outside scenes, sound like I set to HDRI and for those few things that are Inside…i set with lighting… I need to keep it simple….lol…
        I have different HDRI so would I be safe to set the intial with a NOON Day, no over cast and then where needed for final render/animation set the final HDRI? Sorry for so many questions just seems I am always adjusting between projects….

        2 weeks ago

  • Replies: 1

    Just saw you PBR addition. Wonderful….can’t wait to learn it. BUT, I noticed you have 3 SOURCE files?

    3 weeks ago

    • Replies: 0

      Ah yes you’re correct. I’ve updated it to just be one ‘PBR: Source Files’. Thanks for the tip!

      3 weeks ago

  • Replies: 1

    In the Print Resin lesson, the SSS only appears to be working with my CPU, but when I render it on my GPU, it turns absolutely black. My GPU is also leagues faster than my CPU

    3 weeks ago

    • Replies: 0

      Hmm it sounds like possible GPU incompatibility? Have you checked it’s compatibility with Cycles? I personally don’t have a compatible GPU and can’t be much help..

      3 weeks ago

  • Replies: 1

    There’s no intro video to see a summary of the course?

    2 months ago

    • Replies: 0

      No there isn’t – I really need to make one. Thanks for the reminder!

      2 months ago

  • Replies: 1

    I downloaded the source files to try and follow along with your water shader tutorial, but I don’t have some of the image textures you used, and many of the surfaces in your files are just displayed pink. Is there something I might be doing wrong?

    6 months ago

    • Replies: 0

      Try this: With the file open, go to File > External Data > Find Missing Files and navigate to the tex folder that’s included with the Project Source Files download. When in that folder, click “Find Missing Files” and all your textures should be sourced correctly – no pink.

      6 months ago

Project Files

Download any course files here.