About Our New V-Ray Shader Network

One of the objectives when designing a shader system is to have a logic which can be used for both Hero Shots (closeup) as well as for far-off ecosystem distributions where each plant occupies just a few pixels. This adds a lot of complexity into the logic since a shader up close needs a higher quality of settings and a much larger network compared to the one which is used for general scattering where one just needs to work the silhouette. Traditionally this would mean having multiple shader designs each tailored for a specific use. This can result in inconsistencies and complexities. To address this, we have a structure which can easily adapt to the required situation while keeping things in a structured, organized and easy to understand or modify. Let us take the example of the “Leaf”

  • For General Ecosystem scattering, where the plants occupy the least space on the rendered frame – the user has the ability to reduce the shader calculations by assigning the shader highlighted as “A” – at this level the leaf has a diffuse, reflection, variable glossiness based on camera angle and opacity.
  • Now if the ecosystem is backlit and / or the user needs the light scattering effect (but still does not need the close up leaf detail) then they have the option to assign the shader “B”. This “B” inherits all what the user gets at stage “A” and also adds in a back material with a lighter color texture, different level of glossiness based on camera angle into a 2 sided-vary material to get the desired effect. The min and max values are user controllable.
  • For close-up or hero shots, the maximum amount of detail is required. This corresponds to the shader at stage “C” .This is the assignment set by default. Here we have the shader with the all the parts inherited from “B” and then a coat material is blended on top of it to add the small details like veins, etc. Then the whole assembly is fed into a VRay Bump shader where a normal map is connected to give the fine level bump detail.

A system designed this way gives the ultimate power to the user to choose from based on the level of detail desired. The other parts of a plant which need to exhibit similar behaviour in lighting have a shader logic designed for and applied to them.

We spent time discussing the system with Chaos Group which resulted into multiple designs and ultimately came to this.The resulting product is the hard work & collaboration over days, nights, weekends and holidays.

ADaniTools for 3ds Max

A collection of scripts written by Ashish Dani to help speed up 3ds Max workflow. It gives XfrogPlants V-Ray users, a toolkit of scripts to use with the plants, giving technical directors, programming control over them.

Download ADaniTools.