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Layering shaders using the Mix node

From: Rendering Using Cycles in Blender

Video: Layering shaders using the Mix node

As you start adding Materials and Surfaces in Blenders Cycles Renderer, you'll notice that there are not a lot of options to these Surfaces. These are really a lot less controllable than the Standard Blender Materials. So, one of the ways to get around this is to actually start combining materials and stacking them up and layering them. So, for example I have got this Bowl here, in fact, let's go ahead and turn all the Render here, I am going to render it, and you see we have got a very simple Diffuse Surface.

Layering shaders using the Mix node

As you start adding Materials and Surfaces in Blenders Cycles Renderer, you'll notice that there are not a lot of options to these Surfaces. These are really a lot less controllable than the Standard Blender Materials. So, one of the ways to get around this is to actually start combining materials and stacking them up and layering them. So, for example I have got this Bowl here, in fact, let's go ahead and turn all the Render here, I am going to render it, and you see we have got a very simple Diffuse Surface.

Now if we wanted to make this shiny in some way, we would have to change the type of Material, so, let's go ahead and change this to say a Glossy Material. As you can see we have got a very highly reflective surface. Under the Glossy Material we have a number of options, you can change the type of reflection, we have Beckman which is standard, we also have a Sharp reflection, which is very mirror like, and then these two here can be controlled, so GGX and Beckman have a roughness, which blurs out the glossiness of this, but again, it sometimes will not create the type of the effect that you want.

Now one way to get around this is to combine multiple surfaces to create a layered shader. We can do that in the Node Editor. I've got this Glossy here going into my Material, if I want I could add in another one, and let's go a head and just add in a Diffuse Shader. So, when I add this in, you can see here it is, but I only have one input into this surface, so if I disconnect this here by left-clicking and dragging, you see how there's nothing craving the surface, so it's black.

So, if I put my Diffuse in there, you can see, now it's diffused, in fact I could change that color of my Diffuse, but now it's not shiny. So, if I just have one shader at a time, I can either have Diffuse or Glossy, but not both. We can change this by adding it was called a Mix Shader. So, if we go Add>Shader>Mix Shader, you can see I get a Mix Shader added to my window.

What I can do is I can connect the output of the Shader into the Surface of the Material out, plug the Glossy into the top, and you see how this shows up here too, and plug the Diffuse into the bottom. So, now once I have that, you can see how the character of the Surface has already changed. I have got a Glossy Shader here with this color and a Diffuse Shader here with this color. In fact, I could change my Glossy, maybe make a little bit more towards red, may it kind more of a violet type of color and you see how that shows up in the Reflection.

Now we have this one parameter here called Fac, and what that is this factor. What it does is, as it gets lower, it goes more towards the top shader. So, in this case the Glossy at 0, it's completely Glossy, at 1, it's completely Diffuse, we have the same control right here, so you don't have to jump into the Node Editor if you don't want. So, this allows you to layer these Shaders and dial them in.

So, this actually can be very powerful, because we are not limited to just adding them to the Surface or the Shader we can also do this for Color really any sort of parameter we want. If you don't want to use the Node Editor, you can actually do this completely in the Materials panel. I am just going to go ahead and disconnect everything here, select these in the Node Editor and let's go a head and just delete them, and let's go a head and just start this up from scratch. So under Surface, if we want we can actually add our Mix Shader in here, watch how this kind of builds over here in the Node Editor.

And when we add in that Mix Shader you'll see we have two options here for the type of Shader, so I can add in my Glossy here and I can add it in my Diffuse here. So, you can actually do this entirely from that Materials panel, but I find that using the Node Editor is actually a little bit more intuitive. I like the graphical layout of this, but it's really your choice as to what workflow you select.

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Rendering Using Cycles in Blender

26 video lessons · 4363 viewers

George Maestri
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