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Glossy reflections occur on very smooth surfaces. So a glossy reflection you can think of as being almost mirror like, completely reflecting the environment. I have a scene here that shows three teapots. This scene demonstrates a range of glossy reflectivity. So let's do a render here and see what it looks like when we render. So I'm creating a render, so we can compare the three teapots. On the very left here, I have a very glossy reflective surface. It's perfectly reflecting the environment.
So it's reflecting the other teapots and the checkerboard. You can see the surface is very smooth. So the reflection is very nice and clean. If you look at the elements of reflection, you see right here is what's known as a specular highlight. So this is a reflection of the light source. In this case, the sunlight that's hitting the teapot. A lot of computer graphic shaders have a separate channel for reflecting the light source and reflecting the environment. This is usually referred to as the specular channel versus the reflectivity channel.
In real life, of course, there is no separation. Reflective surface is going to reflect both the environment and the light source. The reason that it is separated in computer graphics program is because virtual CG light is often an infinitely small point of light in space. So what they've done is by separating this, they give you a control to sort of fake the reflection of the light source. So when you look at the specular channel on a typical computer graphics shader, it's giving you a separate control to sort of fake the reflection of the light source. Let's take a look at these other two teapots.
This is going into sort of a range of roughness. As the surface becomes more rough, you can see that the reflections on the surface start to become blurrier. So this is a slightly blurry reflection on a slightly rough surface. This surface is a little bit more rough. The reflection itself is a little bit more blurred. As the surface becomes rougher and rougher, of course, you're going to start to move from a reflective surface to more of a diffuse type of reflection. Many shaders in mental ray have a control that allows you to simulate blurred reflections.
So you can have a range from very smooth and perfect reflections all the way up to very blurry reflections. When you're designing a shader for your surface, think about how rough the surface is, think about how much it's going to reflect the environment. If you think of a surface like a wet road, it's still going to reflect the environment. But the reflections are going to be very, very blurry as opposed to something like a chrome ball or a chrome bumper on a car.
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