3d furnitureEvery 3D designer wants to see a vivid object as a result of his work. No matter how hard you try to make your 3D model look perfect it often happens, that beautifully detailed, well-crafted piece of work still looks artificial and reminds you of nothing but a plastic mass. 

Does that sound familiar to you?

Let’s learn how to get rid of slick and highly reflective surface texture of your 3D models!

Let's consider two most common mistakes of 3D designers:

  1. Incorrect lighting settings
  2. Incorrect maps setting(or no maps at all)

If you found your 3D model looking flat or unnatural it is more likely that you used default lighting setting and/or basic color maps. Please visit our Contact us to learn more about our expertise and how we can help you visualize your project.

The default settings of most 3D modeling programs give the impression of flat surface texture: it looks reflective, glossy and dim. Just as if you molded your building, vehicle, tree or a person out of plastic.

What can you do to reduce this effect?

Let’s start our discussion with an overview of the 5 most helpful tips, which will make your 3D look natural and interesting to the eye.

3d lighting1. Soften the light

The easiest way to make your 3D model look more realistic is to soften the lighting in the scene. You can adjust any type of lightning available in the standard package of your 3D modeling program.

These are 3 most common lightning types:

  • Ambient light - a general illumination coming from different directions in a room without any visible source.
  • Omni light, that can be used for "fill lighting" effect in your scene, or to simulate the point source lightning.
  • Directional light is opposite to ambient light. Use several distant direct lighting spots that are not focused precisely on the object in your scene.

There are also other types of light sources.  Some packages offer the ability to create volumetric glow (Sphere light) or volumetric lighting (Volume light) within a strictly predetermined volume. Some provide the ability to use geometric objects of arbitrary shape.

Don’t hesitate to experiment!

Use different lightning types, turn down the light, change its color, and change its intensity and heat (if possible). Work on the quality of the lightning no matter what other techniques you use.

No one can deny that the natural look of your 3D model depends much on the lighting and it will take you much patience and effort to reach the desired realistic effect.

UV mapping2. Adjust the maps

The next important step is to adjust the default surface map. The 3D surface maps use shading, colors and different textures to emphasize the features of your object.

Available options differ according to the program you use, but the basic map normally allows you to:

  • specify the surface color of an object, its basic fill and line colors (you can select these colors from a palette),
  • set color gradation,
  • select the surface texture,
  • control the shininess and reflectiveness,
  • adjust light absorption,
  • set the highlight and shadow parameters.

To reach the desired reflective or non-reflective presentation of your model you need to change the setting of a color or map manager many times until it looks real. Play with colors and map setting to get rid of plasticine look.

Though we must admit, that it is much easier to adjust smooth and single-color surfaces rather than irregular ones.

texturing3. Use detail maps

Use detail maps for spectacular presentation of your 3D surfaces. You can overlay contour maps, image maps or any other surface maps to get the best result. 3D modeling programs allow importing maps of different formats:

  • normally these are non-lossy bitmaps ( TIF or TARGA),
  • but lossy formats (GIF and JPG) are possible too.

Importing an image map adds a certain realistic effect to your 3D model too.  Thus you can add fiber textures, colors, layers, and decorations to the surface without really modeling them. Using detail maps you create an illusion of real texture.

Important! Specify proper lightning and surface reflection settings to make your 3D model look convincing and vivid. Take into account the type of an object you are adding a map to. Do not add highly reflective or glossy light settings to the object that is supposed to be matte and vice versa. Just image how strange it will look, if you set the reflection and/or glossiness intensity to zero when modeling a Ferrari.

3d textures4. Use texture or bump mapping

Imagine a lizard's skin without cracks on it or a basketball without its pebbled surface. Will it look real? No way! Enhance your 3D surface quality using texture or bump mapping.

As we know, every object, every living being has a texture. Exactly that texture, no matter how small or fine it is, affects the interaction of light with the object and defines how we see it.

Appropriate texture and bump maps create realistic textures on the 3D model, as it simulates bumps and wrinkles on the object surface.

These types of maps will help you to save your time and effort of actually modeling these details. You can use existing maps or create new ones in Photoshop. It is also possible to create a map using a grayscale version of your detail maps.

5. Use built-in effects

Finally, you can use built-in effects such as metal/fur or other surface materials to make your 3D model look realistic, vivid and pleasant to look at.  

Do not hesitate to experiment, learn all capabilities of your 3D modeling software to produce real looking 3D models in a short time.

Work on, experiment and the results are not slow to arrive!

We at 3D-Ace apply all above listed techniques as well as many others to create realistic and eye-catching 3D models and animation for your business needs. Please, visit our Portfolio to see what we have alredy dome for our client or Contact us to discuss your future project.

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