The Infinite Rock Builder Procedural Shader For Cycles

by Nick Sayce Designs in Materials, Shaders, Textures





The Infinite Rock Builder is the most powerful and versatile procedural rock builder on the market with many advantages over RGB textures. With 20 presets to start with, all of which can mix together, there's a lot of infinite here!


At some point, if you haven't already, you'll make an outdoor scene and find yourself needing an RGB texture of a rock or cliff face. You''ll come across the problem of trying to scale them without repetition and the fact that each RGB texture with all it's maps uses roughly 1 GB of memory for a 4K texture. If you can't find the right texture or material, you'll probably move on to sculpting one which is time consuming and difficult.


I've done all of the above and sculpting was always a last resort as so much detail is required to make a convincing rock formation that I find difficult to achieve with the sculpting tools. In the below Avatar inspired image, I sculpted all of the cliffs and owing to how many subdivisions I needed to get detail into them, this was about as many as my system could handle using an RTX 2060 without crashing at render. Each one took around half an hour or longer including the painting so you can see how much time I spent on them!



With The Infinite Rock Builder, I could have made each one in minutes and used roughly 2/3 less memory.


The Infinite Rock Builder is a procedural texture that comes with an infinite amount of customisation for making rock and stone surfaces to be used in Cycles, be it boulders, rocky ground or cliff faces. With the Infinite Rock Builder, you just apply the material and use any of the controls to customise the rock surface to your heart's content. It comes with 20 individual rock presets, all of which have their own controls to customise them further. Because the material is based on maths and not image data, it uses up to 2/3 less memory than a standard 4K RGB texture freeing up your memory for more complex scenes without sacrifice. Another advantage over an RGB texture is that it will scale infinitely without repetition, so creating a huge cliff face can be done in minutes with the IRB instead of hours. And lastly, there are controls to change the angle of the extrusions so rocks don't extrude just forwards and backwards, but in on every axis, something that is impossible with RGB textures. In the below image, I angled the faces of one of the preset's downwards so that the geometry can overlap and completely change the look of the preset.

If you're new to Blender, that's perfect as you won't be searching for RGB textures, you won't need to mess around with UV's or the mapping issues and there won't be issues with setting up the displacement. And don't be intimated by the controls, you can still get the best out of The IRB because it's mostly experimentation with the controls. Sliding sliders about, changing a few values, that's all the input required so you can see changes very fast just by moving a slider. As you can see from the below image, all you need to do is apply the material to a plane or shape, and the IRB will do all the shape changing for you!

In the below image, the IRB works wonders on the mountain in the background, it makes a very realistic texture without repetition just by applying it to a default landscape mesh. All of the boulders are just unedited spheres with the back faces deleted to help the whole scene render with just under 1gb of memory.




Truly, an infinite amount of rock or stone formations and surfaces can be created with the IRB, it's unlikely you'll make the same formation or surface twice! With its ability to scale infinitely, there's no need to worry about repetition anywhere on the mesh as everything is created procedurally. 




A combination of The Infinite Rock Builder and The Infinite Surface Builder were used to create this scene.

This image was created using three of the four Infinite Builders;
The IWB for the walls, The IRB the floor and The IMB for everything else with No RGB textures.



This image was created using the Infinite Rock Builder for the cliff face and the Infinite Metal Builder for everything else and again, no RGB textures.


17.09.20

LATEST UPDATE - Version 4.0


Hi guys,

I've finished the latest version of the IRB and it's a somewhat large change.



All of the formations are now using Vector Displacement so there's much more control when I build them and much more control when you use them. I'm doing away with the regular displacement versions because I think they require more work to get the best results. 


What this means is that the effects are gone as well, I felt the regular displacement needed something extra, but the new formations don't. There's 20 of them, so double the amount of version 3.0, and because I've removed the effects, there's far less wiring and makes for a much cleaner and smoother UI. As before, some of the formations are intended as a base to be mixed if you choose. With version 4, you can now mix 20 different formations together if you choose, though I imagine it'll add a bit to render time!


Here's a few previews;




I hope you like the new version, I think it's better, faster and easier to use than version 3 and I'm much happier with how the formations look. The latest version is in the downloads along with the 1 page manual which goes over a couple of important bits about the formations and how to use them on the correct shape.


Rock on.


Kindest regards,


Nick



29.09.20

A QUICK UPDATE

Hi all,

When I brutally updated the Rock Builder, for some reason I forgot about the Moss and Snow option from version 3. I've put it back in and you can find it here;



The Mixer for the Moss / Snow is in the Colour Filter node group. An important point, the first pip on the Moss / Snow Colour Ramp  needs to stay as black as the filter is set to mix with Screen mode, so it ignores the black and only shows the lighter colours. By all means, change black's position as it will allow more of the effect to be visible if you slide it to the left and by sliding it right, you can move the moss further away from the edges of the rock and closer to the rock's origin.



It's still subtle, depending on the formation and it's strength, but it adds a lot that was previously missing. The latest version is in the downloads, as it's only a minor change it's still version 4.0, so just replace the version you already have.


Kindest regards,


Nick