Blender Essential Training
Illustration by Maria ReƱdon

Using the Ramp Shader options


Blender Essential Training

with George Maestri

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Video: Using the Ramp Shader options

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.
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  1. 5m 50s
    1. Welcome
      1m 22s
    2. Using the exercise files
    3. Downloading Blender
    4. Notes on Blender 2.7
      2m 8s
    5. Using Blender on a Mac
    6. Using Blender on a laptop
  2. 30m 32s
    1. Overview of the Blender interface
      6m 6s
    2. Understanding 3D view windows
      5m 23s
    3. Navigating in 3D space
      6m 35s
    4. Configuring user preferences
      6m 24s
    5. Creating custom layouts
      6m 4s
  3. 32m 29s
    1. Selecting objects
      6m 12s
    2. Moving objects
      4m 35s
    3. Rotating objects
      2m 48s
    4. Scaling objects
      2m 16s
    5. Understanding transform orientation
      3m 53s
    6. Changing an object's origin
      5m 27s
    7. Selecting pivot points
      3m 22s
    8. Using Snap to move objects precisely
      3m 56s
  4. 49m 20s
    1. Creating mesh primitives
      6m 36s
    2. Selecting vertices, edges, and faces
      4m 48s
    3. Editing mesh objects
      7m 39s
    4. Proportional editing
      3m 52s
    5. Sculpt mode (Updated for 2.7)
      5m 3s
    6. Sculpt mode
      4m 45s
    7. Working with edges and edge loops
      3m 42s
    8. Extrusions
      5m 19s
    9. Smooth shading objects
      2m 23s
    10. Subdividing meshes
      5m 13s
  5. 50m 32s
    1. Working with modifiers
      5m 52s
    2. Working with subdivision surfaces
      3m 49s
    3. Creating a simple creature
      7m 54s
    4. Symmetrical modeling with the Mirror modifier
      8m 21s
    5. Joining mesh objects
      3m 37s
    6. Stitching vertices
      4m 52s
    7. Finalizing a simple creature
      4m 48s
    8. Creating text
      3m 29s
    9. Boolean tools
      2m 59s
    10. Vertex groups
      4m 51s
  6. 22m 37s
    1. Using the Outliner
      8m 22s
    2. Using layers
      4m 30s
    3. Creating groups
      2m 48s
    4. Working with scenes
      4m 3s
    5. Creating hierarchies
      2m 54s
  7. 54m 8s
    1. Assigning materials to objects
      7m 53s
    2. Diffuse shaders
      6m 47s
    3. Working with specularity
      5m 56s
    4. Using the Ramp Shader options
      9m 38s
    5. Additional shading options
      2m 37s
    6. Creating reflections
      8m 29s
    7. Adding transparency and refractions
      6m 49s
    8. Subsurface scattering
      5m 59s
  8. 1h 6m
    1. Adding a simple texture
      6m 11s
    2. Using bitmaps
      6m 53s
    3. Mapping textures in the UV Editor (Updated for 2.7)
      7m 43s
    4. Mapping textures in the UV Editor
      8m 28s
    5. Using UV projections
      5m 56s
    6. UV mapping a character (Updated for 2.7)
      6m 35s
    7. UV mapping a character
      6m 11s
    8. Fine-tuning UV mapping
      6m 7s
    9. Creating Bump and Normal maps
      3m 15s
    10. Displacement mapping
      3m 48s
    11. Using the Node Editor
      4m 59s
  9. 53m 9s
    1. Adding lamps to a scene
      8m 44s
    2. Fine-tuning ray-trace shadows
      4m 32s
    3. Using spot lamps
      4m 20s
    4. Fine-tuning buffer shadows
      6m 19s
    5. Using Hemi lamps
      2m 32s
    6. Working with Area lamps
      5m 17s
    7. Creating sky and ambient light
      4m 49s
    8. Adding background images
      3m 19s
    9. Creating sunlight
      6m 6s
    10. Ambient occlusion
      7m 11s
  10. 30m 8s
    1. Working with cameras
      4m 47s
    2. Creating camera targets with constraints
      3m 43s
    3. Render properties
      5m 7s
    4. Rendering animation
      5m 13s
    5. Adding motion blur
      4m 10s
    6. Creating depth of field
      7m 8s
  11. 32m 30s
    1. Understanding the Timeline
      4m 3s
    2. Animating objects
      6m 26s
    3. Animating properties
      4m 0s
    4. Editing animation in the Graph Editor
      8m 36s
    5. Using the Dope Sheet
      4m 53s
    6. Path animation
      4m 32s
  12. 40m 1s
    1. Facial animation using shape keys
      4m 40s
    2. Understanding armatures
      6m 3s
    3. Fitting an armature to a creature
      7m 23s
    4. Deforming a character with an armature
      3m 49s
    5. Setting up inverse kinematics
      3m 53s
    6. Controlling the hips and body
      2m 1s
    7. Animating in Pose mode
      2m 47s
    8. Creating a test animation
      9m 25s
  13. 15s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Blender Essential Training
7h 47m Beginner Dec 21, 2011 Updated Aug 13, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

This course provides an overview of modeling, animating, and rendering 3D graphics in the open-source software Blender 2.6. Beginning with a tour of the Blender interface, author George Maestri shows how to create and edit basic objects, work with modifiers and subdivision surfaces, and apply materials and textures. The course also demonstrates lighting 3D scenes, setting up and using cameras, animating objects, and assembling basic character rigs.

Topics include:
  • Navigating in 3D space
  • Selecting, rotating, and scaling objects
  • Using Snap to move objects precisely
  • Creating mesh primitives and extrusions
  • Subdividing meshes
  • Creating a simple creature
  • Joining mesh objects and stitching vertices
  • Organizing a scene with layers, groups, and hierarchies
  • Assigning glossy and reflective materials to objects
  • Creating bump maps
  • Creating sky and ambient light
  • Understanding ambient occlusion
  • Adding motion blur and depth of field
  • Editing animation in the Graph Editor
  • Building and animating a simple character
3D + Animation
George Maestri

Using the Ramp Shader options

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.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Blender Essential Training .

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Q: This course was updated on 8/12/2014. What changed?
A: We added a single movie on unwrapping objects, a technique that works differently in Blender 2.7. The rest of the instructions in the course work equally well with Blender 2.6 and Blender 2.7.
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