Physically-correct metal materials

by ddesign in Materials, Shaders, Textures

How difficult is to create a realistic-looking conductive material? Non-dielectric shading has always been a pain to approximate in the 3d world and that's because conductive surfaces do not just reflect light: they generate that shiny effect due to electrons being stimulated and photons getting streamed and bent across the Surface.

So, using a glossy shader or the principled with metal properties doesn't just get the desired results, no matter how much time you spend tweaking and editing it.

In archviz scenes, metal objects have Always been the weak link in the chain and, as you may know, a single out-of-place element can break an otherwise perfect scene.

Welcome to the conductive world

I spent last months porting physical data and light-behavior into a series of metal materials in Cycles. These are basically new shaders made from node setups which simulate real-world conductive surfaces, be those pure metals or alloys. Aside from attenuation curve and wavelength, the materials take into account also light deformation, where present.

Physically-correct means ready to use

No matter what light setup do you use, a physically correct material will Always look realistic, under any condition. So if you've struggled in the past with parameters tweaking just to have a material looking good ONLY in one scene, then you' ll see the benefits of having a setup which can be used in any scenario, Always.

Ten of the most common metals

This pack contains nine metal materials among the most used in archviz scenes plus a contacts alloy which works like a charm for electrical equipment: circuitry, outlets, plugs, wires etc... You'll also find a handy coated metal, especially conceived for appliances such as fridges, ovens, washing machines and so on.

All procedurally generated, but allowing you to use image textures if needed.

Easy to personalize

The complex stuff in the nodes setup has been grouped, leaving out only common input values such as color, roughness, bump size and strength. Of course, you can input your values in numbers, or use an image texture for each one so it can easily fit in your standard workflow.

Looks good

Each material is photorealistic straight out of the box, no need for complex light-setups


Please note that only materials and HDRi are included in the file: the models and the scene are only examples of applications

Welcome to the physically based shading in Cycles, I hope you will find your new materials to be the secret weapon to stunningly realistic renderings!

As they are created with a different approach than standard and principled shaders, the interface is a bit different... But not more complex, quite the opposite in fact. Each material has its own IOR curve carefully reproducing light attenuation, so no input on your side is needed; depending on the material, you may alter its roughness, bump size and strength, its texture coordinate and/or its base colour.

You cannot alter scratches shape with a custom texture for now, but I hope to implement this feature in next update. You can however disable them by setting strength to 0 (or, in the case above, using the same roughness colour)

Once you put a material on a model, the textures of scratches or bump will be procedurally generated, based on geometry: there is a complex node setup to create a  box projection evenly spread across faces, plus a handy rotation input (in degrees) to match the desired direction

A big part of the realism of metals lies in reflections, for best results use HDRIs with lot of colour variation and possibly objects to be reflected. Included in the scene there's a free CC0 HDR from Greg Zaal (big thanks to him)

Pro tip: sometimes HDRs have a strong dominant colour, to get more realism try using a "hue/saturation/value" node in the world node-editor and scale down saturation a bit

Be sure to use an adequate number of samples on your render: as these materials "hack" into Cycles' light vectors, more noise is generated and rendering times are slower than usual setups. You can use the physically correct metals on models that are closer to camera or more important in the scene, and simpler setups on farthest objects

Please note that only materials and HDRi are included in the file: the models and the scene are only examples of applications

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