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If you want to create materials like glass or translucent plastic, transparency becomes a very important component of those materials. So let's take a look at transparency and how we can use it in Blender. So I've got a basic scene here with a white sphere in the little and it's obscuring a couple of the objects behind it. This is a great way to show off how transparency works. So let's go ahead and do a quick render of the scene, and as you can see, there's no transparency in here as of yet.
So I'm going to go to my Camera Perspective window, right-click on that white sphere, which is this one here, and let's go to the Materials panel. Now I have a one material applied to the sphere and it's called Sphere. But let's go ahead and just change the name to Transparent, just so that we have a descriptive name. And let's go ahead and scroll down to our options. So if I want to make this transparent, we have an option here called Transparency. I'm going to go ahead and click this on, but so that we can see everything, I'm going to go ahead and close down some of my rollouts here.
So when I click this on, you'll notice we have three options. The important ones here are Ray Trace and Z Transparency. Now Z Transparency is really just a simple, basic, rudimentary transparency with nothing like refractions or any sort of handling of lights. But it's pretty simple. We have an Alpha which basically just turns down the visibility of the object. So if I want to set that at .5, you can see how it's now 50% transparent. And when I render, you can see how--okay, I've got some transparency, but this really doesn't look like glass or any sort of object.
Now for this we also have a Fresnel effect, which again just works like any other Fresnel effect. It tends to push the effect towards the edges. So if I type in 3 and hit F12, you can see how it kind of gives a little bit more of an effect. In other words, it tends to keep the transparency in the middle and fades it out towards the edges. And this is actually a little more realistic, because if you think about it, a transparent sphere, as you go towards the edges, you actually have more material blocking you, because it's at a different angle, so you get a little bit more of a realistic effect.
But if you want to get a really, really good realistic effect, you want to go to the Raytrace parameters here. Now this retains all of these other controls, so it retains Alpha and Fresnel. So if I do a quick render of this with nothing else added, it looks pretty much the same. But these additional controls really give us a lot more ways to affect it. The most important one is Index Of Refraction, IOR, and this tells you how much of a lens effect this is going to give.
In this case, this is a sphere, so we're going to actually have a lower index of refraction. So let's go ahead and just put this down to say .9. And as you can see what happens in the Preview is that as this goes down, you can see how it tends to refract towards the center. If I go above 1, you can see how it pushes it out. So let's go ahead and put it back to .9 and do a quick render. Hit F12 and now you can see how I've got a much more glassy effect.
This is actually refracting the checkers on the floor as well as the objects behind it. If I put it up a little bit higher, say at .95, I get a little bit less of an effect and it becomes probably a little bit more realistic. And if I want to, I can put it above one. Let's go ahead and just put it to 1.05, just a little bit over 1, and you can see how it has an immediate affect. It tends to push those out. And for this shape object that's not really a realistic effect, so again, let's just put it back to .95 and do a quick render.
Now just like with reflections, we also have a Depth control right here, and this controls how many things you can see through. So let's go ahead and take this green sphere, let's go ahead and apply the Transparent material to that. And then I'm going to go ahead and move that in front of the other sphere. Let's go ahead and go down to our Transparency panel, and I'm going to select the Depth and turn it to 0.
When I hit F12, you'll see that I have no depth to my transparency, so it's really not transparent at all. If I bring it up to 1 and do a quick render, you'll see that oh, okay, well, I get transparent stuff for what's behind it, but I can't see through two transparent surfaces at once. So this one is transparent to the floor and the objects behind it, but where we have this intersection, I can't see through the transparency of the object behind it.
So if I turn it up to 2, you'll see how--okay, I'm starting to get that, but really you need to turn it up to 3 in order to get a complete transparency there. All right, let's go ahead and turn up to 4, and again, just to get a little bit more bounce here. So as you can see, the Depth will limit how many things you can see through. So if you have multiple transparent objects in the scene, you'll want to turn that up a little bit.
Now the last one is Gloss and again that's very similar to the gloss that we used in reflections. So if I keep this to a fairly small number, say .95 or so, and do a quick render, you can see how it gives kind of a translucent frosted-glass effect. Now this can be very handy because not everything is perfectly transparent. We have smudges and oily surfaces and all that, and this can help you to simulate these within Blender.
So those are some of the basics of transparency in Blender. Now Raytrace is your best option for realistic transparencies. It will take a little bit more render time, and you will need to have Raytrace turned on in your render.
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