Just curious ( Alias )

How do you render metal with finish like this?

in Maya there are metallic paint shaders. i assume the new Studio versions have them. or Alias has them for download.

Metallic paint works, but the problem is that a piece of reflective metal in a blank room — like the 3D program’s environment — looks like…nothing. Reflective metal has almost no color or pattern of its own, so what makes it look natural is the reflections around it.

This is what Environment mapping is for (works like a charm when you do it right – search for HDRI on google). You could also try building a textured environment around the object and rendering with full caustics, but that’s usually far more processor-intensive that you need.

Look at that car – you can se reflections of the people walking by, the white lines on the floor, the ceiling lights…take all that out and it’ll look like gray plastic.

I find that they key to rendering anything reflective well is to use a lot of lights (minimum of 3 point lights and an area light) and find a good, accurate environment map. It doesn’t have to be well-suited to the object (most “chrome” renderings, at least historically, show a cloudless sky above a desert. Look closely sometime), just a real photograph. Again, the HDRI sites will have lots of good information about rendering polished metal, glass and glazed ceramic (all basically the same shader with different bases).

I once downloaded a shader that used a photo of a monkey’s head as its environment map, and it actually looked really good from most angles.

Ok I am dumb here. I know how to make high gloss paint finish as well as metalic paint finish. I never knew how to create true mirror(chrome) as well as metal ( polished or not ). Any lesson online?

try 3D Total

There are tons of excellent tutorials and they even sell some fantastic textures, everything from cloth and concrete to HDRI images.

I’m not sure what programs you have access to, but in 3D Studio this is easily done.

Just use a brushed aluminum metal material and then light the environment using a colorful HDRI map. The bright colors will appear in the metal highlights but the brished texture will keep you from seeing the full HRDI image.

First - sorry for the huge image

While not a full tutorial drawthrough.com has a number of nice examples of using different shaders and layers to create effects like you are looking for.

I use this method a lot for various effects - 9 times out of 10 I find it easier to composite a few different variations of a rendering to get what I want rather than spending way too much time with lights and shaders trying to do it all at once in the renderer.

There are a few other examples at www.drawthrough.com
Navigate to the portfolio and check out “transportation” - page 5

I use Alias 11 … My school has upgraded to V12, but I haven’t touched it yet.

For the metallic layer:

Blinn shader.
Diffuse around .5
Reflectivity 0
Eccentricity .4
Medium gray color

Map an sRock texture to the specular channel. In the sRrock options window, change color1 to a light gray (hsv 0,0, 0.75) and color2 to a slightly superwhite color (hsv 0,0, 1.2). Change grain size to about .005 or so.

For the reflective clearcoat layer:

Blinn shader.
Diffuse 0
Reflectivity around 0.5
Specular Rolloff around 0.8
Specular color superwhite (hsv 0,0, 4.0)
Eccentricity around 0.1
Completely transparent.

Layer the clearcoat shader on top of the metallic layer (in multi-lister, click Shading>Layer Shaders after assigning the metallic shader.

Like someone else said above, you’ll need to have something in your environment shader. If nothing else, take a digital picture of the street where you live and map it to a sphere texture projection in the environment color. StudioTools doesn’t support HDRI, so a regular image file is all you need.

Work a slight amount of color into your spotlights when you light the scene. It looks like the car you showed was probably lit by differently colored lights.

Be sure to raytrace if you want the environment shader to be reflected in your materials.

I wrote most of this from memory, but hopefully it is accurate enough to get you started.


Do you teach Alias? If not you should be!!! There aren’t many good teachers around.

Yeah, I second that one!

Rendering in Alias has always been somewhat of a challenge. With a seemingly infinite number of variables to adjust, it’s easy to spend alot of time and still not have the desired effect and image that you initially set out to create. I recently got Alias Image Studio and have been giving that a try. So far it seems to create some pretty good images pretty quickly. My only complaint is a fairly limited amount of ‘stock’ shaders, and very simplistic controls. Where Alias was too advanced, it seems Image Studio is now too ‘dumbed down.’

Anyone else tried ImageStudio?

Thanks. I don’t teach on a regular basis, though I have taught a few people here and there.

Rendering in Alias was scary at first, but over time, I found myself adjusting just a few key settings with each project. It also helps to quiz yourself on how you would duplicate cool materials and finishes you see around you in Alias (or whatever program you may be using). Like you’ve done with this thread.

How is studiotools rendering, anyway? I have quite a lot of experience with Maya and Mental Ray shaders, but I"m trying to move to Studio for the much greater modelling options. I assume that the rendering is fairly similar?

Yes and no. StudioTools doesn’t have final gather, GI, SSS, or HDRI capabilities, which is both a blessing (keeps things simpler, imho) and curse (these features would be nice to have). If you have grown fond of those tools in mental ray, you may miss them in Studio. Fortunately, Studio13 appears to have some sort of ambient occlusion process, which is cool to see. I use both Maya and Studio. Studio’s renderer is fast and (relatively) simple, making it great for most product shots and presentation renderings, but Maya/mental ray technically has more capabilities if absolute max image quality is your goal.

You’ll notice some similarities in terminology and shader behavior between Maya and StudioTools, but there will still be a learning curve.

That’s cool. I believe I can export stuff to Maya for HDRI/FG/SSS (I use them quite a lot), so that’s not too much of a problem. And from what I’ve seen, it’s leagues ahead of Photoworks (the other option is SW) in both ease-of-use and image quality.

I am trying to render weaving texture using the fabric texture as bump map. How do I “project” the bump map onto a group of surfaces? I have totally forgotten what the procedure is. I’m using Alias 11.

Thanks ahead!

In the shader options window, Special Effects>Bump>Map…>Solid>Projection.

Several different projection options are available in the resulting window. Planar should work if there isn’t a lot of form to your surfaces. Adjust the projection size by turning on the texture transform from the multilister (in the Projection preview icon, click on the little cube with an arrow by it).

If there is a lot of form, you can try triplanar. You may notice some seams in the cloth pattern, though. The other projection methods may distort the pattern, but might be worth a try.

Basically, I would play around with projection methods until I found something that worked.

Thanks! I did find out where it was. I opened some old files and traced back its rendering settings.

BTW, I am trying to do the “globe lighting” setup where there are a bunch of lights arranged in a spherical layout to simulate daylight. What kind of light is used? ( spot, ambien??) Any tips from you?

I have started with ambien lights but I am not getting the shadows I want even though I selectively turned on the shadow function. Also, the form doesn’t read too well because the light is now less directional. I did adjust the lights to be more intense from one direction. I just got to try further.

I have never done the globe lighting setup, but if I were to try, I would probably start with directional lights. I’ve seen programs approximate hdri setups by creating a series of lights that correspond to the brightest parts of the hdr image. The example I remember used directional lights, I think.


I got a pretty simply light setup that works for me nicely ( just an ambient and a directional).

Anyways, is there a way to copy the shader properties(projection and decals included) when I make multiple copies of the surfaces? What about mirroring them? Thanks!

BTW I tried with “symmetry” on but the shader mapping wasn’t right.