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In addition to adding color to your diffuse and specular channels, you can also add ramps. Now, ramps are basically a gradation of both color and transparency that can really transform the way that your materials look. So right now we're going to work with ramps in the Diffuse channel. So I'm going to down Specularity so we can see exactly how these ramps work. So I'm going to take Specularity, turn it down to 0, and let's hit F12 just to see how this renders.
Now, you'll notice in both the Diffuse and Specular channels we have a check box for Ramp. If I check it in the Diffuse channel, you'll see how the preview really changes a lot. And that's because we've added in this ramp that goes from black and transparent on the left to white and opaque. Now, we can really see how this works by using this control along the bottom called Factor, and really what is happening here is that this ramp is being laid over the diffuse color.
So underneath this we have a red diffuse color and we're laying over the white. Now, if we turn this Factor control down, we're basically turning off the ramp. This is kind of a mixer as to how much that ramp affects the diffuse color. So at 0 it's 100% diffuse, and as we turn up, notice how the lit areas of the object are starting to turn white.
That's because this is how this ramp works. The left side is the shaded areas of the object; the right side is the lit areas. So if I were to change this color, you can change it to, for example, yellow, and you can see how I'm now fading from yellow down back to the original red. And if I were to render this, you could see this a little more clearly. So the lit areas are yellow, which is in the ramp, and the shaded areas are red, which is in that diffuse color.
Now, if I want, I can change everything in this by clicking on the right side here, and you notice how this little black square comes up. If I click on that, I get a color picker. And so I'm going to go ahead and turn up my value here, and let's go ahead and change it to blue. In addition to the RGB values, we also have an additional one called A for alpha, and this shows up here in this checker box square.
So as I dial it in, you can see how it's becoming more and more opaque. So if I bring it up to 1, this completely replaces that red color underneath. And so when I render this, now I'm going from yellow to blue. So, now by taking out all of the transparency and making this completely opaque, I've replaced my red diffuse color with a yellow-blue gradient. Now, this can be used for all sorts of things.
One of the ways I like to use it is to add a little more pop to my shading. If I turn my Factor down, let's take a look at how the default shading works. In fact, I'm going to hit F12 to see this. And what we have here is we're going basically from a red color down to black. So essentially what this does is it just starts here and it just shades it all the way down to black, so it's really just using this one slider. Now, if you know anything about the way color works, basically what this is doing is it's doing a gradient across a maximum of 256 colors.
But if we want to get a little bit more of a rich shading, we can make this go over more colors. So let's go ahead and pick a default color for our shading, so let's say let's go ahead and pick something like a light green, or something like that. And then let's go ahead and pick a color for our shading. So we could start with that light green but maybe make it a little bit more bluish or something like that, maybe a darker blue, and even bring down by Intensity a little bit like that. So now once I have that and I dial it up by dialing up my Factor, you'll see that when I render this, it's now going from green to kind of a darker blue.
So what I'm getting here is I'm getting a much richer color. In fact, if I saturate that just a little bit more, you can see it probably even a little bit better here. So let's do this. So you can see how I'm not just going from green to black; I'm going from green through blue, and then ultimately to black. So this allows your colors to go over a greater range and can give you a little bit more pop. Now, this gradient is not just limited to two values. We've been basically just clicking on the right and left side of this to get our values, but if we want, we can add in as many points as we want.
So we have a button here that basically can move from left to right here, so each point is numbered. So right now we have two points: we have .0 on the left, .1 on the right. But if we want, we can add in a middle point. So all I have to do is hit Add and it adds this third point in the middle. And now we can change where that middle point is. We can also change that color. So if I were to click on this, I could make it another type of color.
So you can see now we have a more interesting gradient here. And I can move this however I want. If I want to, I can also add in additional colors. So if I wanted to, I could add in that purple there and take this third color and make it more of a green, and again just change it and affect it however I want. If I want to step through these, I can just hit this button here to step through each one of these points, or I can just click on the point.
Another way to add additional points is to hold down the Ctrl key and just left-click and that gives you an additional point. If you want to, you can just get rid of additional points by just hitting the Delete key here. So I'm going to go ahead and delete all these out and make it back into a two-point gradient. In addition to this, we have Mix controls, and these are very similar to the way that Photoshop Mix controls work. And this is basically how does it mix back into the original color? Typically, we keep this on Mix, but you can change it if you want.
And another really cool little option here is this Input. Now, we've been working with this as a shader, but we can also take the input from different places. In other words, the input for the ramp is the shader. So again, right side is the lit portion, left side is the shaded portion. But we can change this. We can say the lit portion is dependent on the energy in the scene, in other words, the way that the light hits the object.
And a lot of times this can provide a lot smoother sort of transition. This actually is a little bit more realistic, and I actually like the way this works. Another really cool option is to change the shading based on where the normals are. Now, if you're not familiar with normals, normals are basically the direction that the surface is pointing. So if the surface is pointing directly towards us, it's the lighter color; if it's pointing away from us, it's the darker color. So let's go ahead and play with this. Let's go ahead and make this kind of the whole thing a darker color here, like maybe a purple.
And then I'm going to go ahead to this color here and let's make it lighter. Let's make it kind of almost like a yellow type of color. I'm going to increase my value here. And what you can see here is that we can almost create like a rim-light effect. So when I shade this, you can see how the portions of that surface that are facing away from us are the lighter color. And this can be really handy in areas such as creating transparent or translucent surfaces, like as a glass kind of curves away from you, you're starting to see through more of a thickness of the glass, so you're seeing less transparency and more of the color of the glass, and this can really help to sell that effect as well.
Now, you don't have to use this with just the Lambert shader as well. You can add in, for example, if you wanted to work with the Toon shader, you can do it that way. Or if you want, you can use it with the Minnaert shader. And that's actually kind of cool because if you decrease the darkness, you can actually combine the edge light of the shader with the color itself, so then you can get actually kind of almost double that effect. So those are some of the ways that you can use ramp shaders.
Now remember, ramps are laid over the diffuse color. You can have as many points as you want within a ramp, and you can mix it however you want to the original color.
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