Lava: Introduction

A Material so hot it's Molten

Let's be honest with one another: We all need a procedural lava material the way Frodo needs the lava river at the bottom of Mt. Doom. Lucky for us both, this chapter covers exactly that. From the charred, igneous, black crust to the bright glowing yellowy-orange magma cracks, and everything in between, Blender + Cycles offers the nodes we need to get the job done without painting a single texture or unwrapping a single UV island.

What You'll Learn

This lava material is designed to be a realistic, robust shader inspired by photographic reference. The result is a fairly complex node network that can be confusing to navigate if we don't stay organized. The key take-aways from this chapter:

  • Using of the Voronoi Texture's "Cells" mode + Separate RGB node to generate an intuitive mask layer.
  • Reaching new levels of procedural randomization by influencing vector curves with textures.
  • Taking advantage of Adaptive Subdivision for maximum geometric detail (micropolygons) and fasted render time.


The beauty of robust procedural materials is that they can be used for multiple situations. In addition to a lava stream, this same shader can also be used to create a fantasy molten planet.

CC Music: "Bilderbergin" by Robbero


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