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Creating Textures and Shaders in Maya with Eric Keller shows how to create textures and materials, and then apply them to models to render realistic surfaces. The course covers working with the mental ray shading nodes, including the mental images architectural node, subsurface scattering nodes, occlusion, and car paint shaders, as well as how to incorporate these nodes into shading networks using the Hypershade editor. It also explores using textures, Maya software nodes, normal maps, and displacement maps for adding detail to models. Exercise files accompany the course.
Translucent materials are opaque or semiopaque materials that still allow light to pass through. A few examples of this would be like the leaves of the tree or plastic or stained glass. You can see in this scene I have a teapot. It has a translucent material applied to it and then on the inside I've added just a simple polygon sphere. Now we'll create a render and you'll see how light passes through this surface, allowing you to see what's inside, even though the surface for the most part is semiopaque.
Translucency can be simulated in a number of ways in Maya. It's similar to subsurface scattering and it's also similar to blurred refractions. So you have a number of options for creating translucent material. Some shaders have a translucency attribute that you can use or what you could do is you can work with creating very blurry refractions to create translucency or in some cases you can use a certain amount of subsurface scattering to make very realistic translucent surfaces.
I would use that in extreme cases like thick candle wax or something like that. But for something like plastic a certain amount of blurred refractions will do a good job of creating a translucent looking surface. So here's the final rendering. You can see the sphere even though it's semiopaque.
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