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Subsurface Scattering shader

From: CINEMA 4D R13 New Features

Video: Subsurface Scattering shader

Subsurface scattering refers to the simulation of the transmission of light through an object. The classic example is a small jade statue. When you shine light on it, the figure seems to glow from the inside, that's because the light is penetrating into the stone and bending and bleeding to the outer edges. C4Ds newly redesigned Subsurface Scattering shader makes this effect much more intuitive. So what I have here is a very simple scene, there is a 3D character that I created for this movie, and it's just a simple low poly mesh underneath a hyper NURB object, and let's close that up and I'll deselect it.

Subsurface Scattering shader

Subsurface scattering refers to the simulation of the transmission of light through an object. The classic example is a small jade statue. When you shine light on it, the figure seems to glow from the inside, that's because the light is penetrating into the stone and bending and bleeding to the outer edges. C4Ds newly redesigned Subsurface Scattering shader makes this effect much more intuitive. So what I have here is a very simple scene, there is a 3D character that I created for this movie, and it's just a simple low poly mesh underneath a hyper NURB object, and let's close that up and I'll deselect it.

Then I've also got some lights in the scene, so let's back out so we can see what's going on. My character is sitting on a sort of a coved backdrop that I created using this extrude NURB here, and the lights -- I've got a key light coming in from the object's left-hand side and a fill light coming in from the object's right-hand side. And Subsurface Scattering works best on objects that are being illuminated either from the side or from the rear. And so that's why I've got the lights in this arrangement. Let's zoom back in on our little guy here, and I am going to deselect that light. Now what we need to do is to apply a material to this object, and so let's create a new material down here, and go in the Material Manager, I'll double-click, and let's call this material SSS, for Subsurface Scattering.

Now what I want to do is apply this material directly to the hyper NURB object, there we go, and our character turns white. Now let's bring up the Interactive Render Region, so we don't have to keep rendering this scene over and over again. So I'll go Option+R or Alt+R on the PC, and you can see that I've got the shadows turned on the lights and that's casting an area-shadow here on the right-hand side, let's turn the Quality up on Interactive Render Region so we get a little bit better representation of the scene. And now I can deselect that object in the background. Now, the way Subsurface Scattering works is, it's best on small objects.

You wouldn't want to put Subsurface Scattering on a building say. Objects that are small in size and partially translucent allow the light to pass through. That's the kind of object you want to do. So we always want to use it on very small objects like little statues or things like that. The angle that you photograph it from, the light that you put on it, all contribute to communicating a very small size. The next thing I want to talk about is the Render Engine. Right now, I am using the Standard renderer. We are going to switch this over to the Physical renderer, because that gives us a better result for Subsurface Scattering. Let's go Command+B or Ctrl+B on the keyboard to bring up the Render Settings and the Render Settings, by default, are set to Standard, and we're going to switch this over to the Physical renderer.

And when I do that you're going to see the rendering update here, and it gets a little more chunkier, that's because of the Sampling Quality and the Sampling Method here. And the next thing I want to do is we're going to turn this from Adaptive to Progressive. And what Progressive does is, Progressive starts off by giving you a very bad initial image, and then it continuously refines the image as long as you don't change anything. And so you start off with a very bad image that gets much better before your eyes. So let's switch this to Progressive here, and you are going to see that the image will get very, very grainy and chunky, and then as I go, you can see that the rendering progress down here is continuing to run.

And you can see that the longer I let this go, the more refined my image becomes. And so we are just going to leave that. Every time we make a change it will go back to chunky and then refine itself. So let's close up the Render Settings now. Now we need to add the Subsurface Scattering effect. So let's go to the SSS material, and we're going to go to the Basic properties and the Subsurface Scattering effect works best in the Luminance channel. So let's turn on Luminance, and I see our object is going to go completely white, and the Luminance channel normally kills shading until you add the Subsurface Scattering into it. So let's go to the Luminance channel, and in the Texture pulldown here we are going to go to Effects and then Subsurface Scattering.

And as soon as we do that, we are going to start to see our object come back in shading. So what's happening is the Subsurface Scattering filter controls what happens in the Falloff areas of the Luminance channel. So you can see now our object appears to glow a little bit from the inside. Now let's talk a little bit about the color and the properties of the Subsurface Scattering shader itself. Now I want to make a jade statue out of this guy. So let's go to the Color channel and start off by making our object green. Now I want to change these values, I am going to do this about 45 on Red, I'll tab twice to get over to the Green channel and hit 81 or so, let's do 80 there just to round it off, and I'll hit tab twice again to do another 45 and that's going to get me a nice rich green color.

Now what's happening right now is it doesn't look very green yet, that's because the Subsurface Scattering is set to be white by default. And so we need to change that color next as well. So let's go to the Luminance channel here, and in the Luminance channel let's raise that up. I'm going to click on the Subsurface Scattering swatch, and that takes me into the Properties for the Subsurface Scattering. So what I want to do is to change the color of the Shader first and foremost. Let's take this and bring it down to 0 on blue, and 0 on red, that's going to give us a nice rich green color for our jade statue.

And you can adjust this to taste if you want. We can bring this down if we don't want quite as much saturation in it, you can see it gets a little bit darker. So I'll leave it about there, 0, 149, 0. Now, the next thing we want to talk about is the Path Length. The Path Length controls how far into the object the rays will go. The shorter the Path Length, the darker the object becomes, the longer the Path Length the brighter the object becomes. So I want this to be a little bit darker here. So I am going to take this Path Length and adjust it to about 5 cm, that's going to darken my object up just in the areas on the other side of the object from the key light.

The next thing I want to do is boost up the Strength Value; how intense is the Subsurface Scattering effect, and that strength is expressed in percentages, and like a lot of percentage values in CINEMA 4D, it can go beyond 100%. The slider peaks out right there, but you can input a value here manually, and so I'll go to 200, and that's going to boost up that effect and that's going to give me a much more intense Subsurface Scattering effect. There are some advanced effects here that allow you to tweak the values of the Subsurface Scattering effect, but in practice, I don't mess with them. There is some great presets here. I've started off with a custom one and input my values manually, but you can switch to any of these guys and they make great starting points.

I am going to leave mine set to Custom, and leave the Advanced shaders alone, and now want I want to do is refine the material a little bit. This object is going to look a lot better with a little bit of reflection on it. So let's go back up one level, I'll click on this up arrow here. This takes us up to the main level of the material, and in the Basic properties on going to activate Reflection. And when I do that, I get a 100% reflective object, and my little guy turns into a chrome guy. Now that's not what I want, although it does look kind of cool. I want to dial down the reflection a bit. So let's go to the Reflection property, and take the Reflection Brightness from 100% down to about maybe 20% or so.

You can experiment with this value. What that's going to give us is a nice little highlight on there. The reason I can see this highlight is because I've turned on a property in the lights, and I want to explain that real quick. In the Key Light there is under the Details property, a very important button, and that's this Show in Reflection button. Because I have this light set to be an area light, I can tell it to show up in the reflection, and that's why you're seeing this white rectangle here, show up on the surface of my object and it's very useful for creating these types of reflections on objects. I have the same property turned on on the Fill Light. So you can see the Subsurface Scattering effect gives us a very unique look and makes the object feel incredibly small.

Now what I am going to do is let the Progressive Render engine run and refine this image. So you can see there is a point of diminishing returns with Progressive Render engine. We've hit it in this particular scene at about the minute and a half mark, we can let this run all day and it would literally run all day if we let it, but the image won't get much better. But the advantage to using the Progressive Render engine is that it gives you a very poor result that continuously refines over time, making it very easy to see changes in a complicated scene. To get back to the Subsurface Scattering, if you're creating any kind of object that is translucent or allows light to pass through from the surface to the inside, then the newly redesigned Subsurface Scattering shader is the way to go.

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CINEMA 4D R13 New Features

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Rob Garrott
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