Bodies of Water: Introduction

  • Software:Blender  ·
  • Difficulty:Advanced

Maximize artistic flexibility with your shaders.

This is the first Shader Forge lesson that involves the common material quality of transparency known as "Refractions". Historically, raytraced refractions are slow to render and a little scary, especially blurry refractions. However the Cycles engine handles them quite well. This short course is about building a flexible, node-based material for use as different bodies of waters.

What you Will Learn

If you're unfamiliar with the Shader Forge series, keeping the instruction procedural is consistently the goal. You will see how every part of the shader is achieved without the use of texture maps. Another key element of Shader Forge is to keep shaders as flexible as possible so they facilitate art direction.

  • Lesson 1Wave structure is important for achieving the surface choppiness common in oceans, lakes, and pools. We will implement this at the geometric level, displacing the highly-subdivided mesh with a node-based texture. This texture is a combination of layered voronoi's.
  • Lesson 2: This is where we add the Refractive and Reflective qualities of the material. You will see how versatile Cycles' nodes can be for forcing optimizations, fine-tuning absorption, and segregating refractions and reflections so they can be manipulated independently for maximum user-control.
  • Lesson 3: With refraction comes Caustics which is the effect of light passing through, being bent/magnified, and finally projected out the other side of a refractive material. This is most commonly seen in swimming pools. In lesson 3 you will see a clever technique for faking caustics (credit to Bassam Kurdali) to achieve both faster render times and additional artistic control. The first half of the lesson covers initial implementation while the second half demonstrates it's practical use in a swimming pool.
  • Lesson 4: Finally to conclude the course, I will demonstrate two practical examples of this shader working as unique bodies of water - An ocean and a lake.