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Twilight is a very popular and inexpensive third-party renderer for SketchUp. This course shows how to create highly realistic 3D architectural drawings (including interior/exterior elements) with the lights, materials, camera, and render options in Twilight. Author Brian Bradley explains the importance of reflectance in materials, and shows how to manage and save rendering presets, how to correct for perspective, tone, and exposure in the camera, and how to create a variety of material types. The final chapter covers rendering your complete arch-viz scene for a couple types of output, including animation and composites.
As most objects in the world around us have at least a measure of reflectivity in their surface properties, there is a high probability that when we want to create realistic-looking materials in Twilight we will need to spend at least some time each project working with the reflection controls of our materials. In this video we're going to continue working with our floor material and show you how to add nice blurry reflections to it. As you can see, our start scene has been upgraded a little, in that we have taken what we learned in our diffuse video and applied all of the maps and relevant colors to the geometry in our scene.
In fact, the current state of our scene does help prove a point regarding reflectivity. If we were to take a render at this moment in time, we would see that whilst our diffuse maps and colors do help us see what type of surfaces we are meant to be looking at-- they do give us an overall color scheme for our render--our eye would pick out that something is not quite right; something is missing, and that something would of course be reflectivity. So let's start to fix this problem. First of all, we need to come up to the Twilight toolbar and open up the Twilight Material Editor.
Of course we can use the From Scene dropdown or the Material Selection tool to come and pull our material definition into the editor. Straight away we are going to want to apply templates, so let's come up to the Templates dropdown, and I'm just going to, in this instance, come to the Paint section and apply the Gloss Paint option. Now, whenever we make changes to a material, it is good practice to instantly go and take a test render. If we make too many changes, come to the render, and things and not looking quite right for us, we may find it hard to figure out which of the steps we have taken is actually causing us the problem.
So let's come and open up the Render dialog and take a render. Now, instantly there are a few things that we can discern from our render. Firstly, you will have noticed that our render times have increased dramatically. This is because of the blurriness or diffusion of our reflections. You can see there is a lot of noise, a lot of breakup in these reflections. This of course means that our engine has to work much harder to try and smooth things out and clean them up. We can also see that we have nice breakup in our reflections coming from our bump map.
We may want to increase or decrease the strength of this a little later on, as we come to completion of our materials. We can also of course tell that we do have reflectivity, which is most definitely a good thing. We can also see that our reflections are incredibly bright; in fact, for me, they are just too bright at this moment in time. So there really are two problems that I would like to fix: one is the intensity or brightness of our reflections, and the other is the breakup or the blurriness. I want them to be a little bit sharper, a little more defined. Well, we can do this using the controls found in our Material Editor.
The first problem we will tackle is the intensity of our reflections. Now, in the Reflection section, there are a couple of ways that we can actually control both reflection intensity and breakup in the scene. We can either work with a solid color or we can indeed use a texture map to do that job for us. To keep things simple, I am just going to continue working with a solid color. At this moment in time if we come across to our color swatch, you can see our reflectivity color is set to full white. This means we are getting full-intensity reflections.
I want to use the grayscale slider to just drop down that intensity by quite a bit. So I am going to set a very specific value of 70 in each of my R, G, and B Channels. With that done, I can click OK and again we're going to want to take a render to see how that affects our reflections. Straight away you will notice that our render time has come way, way down, which of course is generally speaking, a very good thing. But you may be saying that that is because we have completely killed reflectivity in our material. Well, in actuality, that is not the case.
You see, we still have to remember that we have our very blurred or diffuse reflections occurring in the scene. All that's happened now is that by dialing down the intensity of our reflections, we've made it so that they are blending into our diffuse material, perhaps much more than we would want them to. We can of course easily fix this problem by just coming back into our Twilight Material Editor. In fact, we can solve two problems with a single parameter. This is our Shininess option. This is the control that will determine how sharp or indeed how blurry, how diffuse our reflections are.
At this moment in time a Shininess value of 80.000 is quite low; in fact, you can see that if we look at our Material Preview; you can see we have got very diffuse and spread-out reflections. I am going to increase this value by quite an amount. I am going to set these to 2500, which may seem quite high, but when you consider that to get mirror-like reflections we can actually increase our Shininess value to 50,000 and higher, you will realize that this isn't actually that high at all. Again, we want to test the effects of our parameter change by taking a render.
Our parameter change, as you can see, has clearly had a couple of advantageous side effects. First of course is the fact that we have reflections back in the scene. We can now see them clearly again. The second, and very much linked to that, is the fact that we have sharpened our reflections up by quite a bit; they are no longer as spread out or as diffused, so we're able to make out what we are actually reflecting quite a bit more clearly. And of course our render times have not increased that much at all. So all in all, we're actually making very nice progress with our reflections.
However, we do have a little bit of a problem, in that our reflections seem to be truncated. We're getting this cutoff point that isn't looking as natural as I would like. This again can be easily solved by coming into our Material Editor and working with our Index of Refraction value. One thing that artists newer to material work often fail to realize is that the Index of Refraction value also significantly affects how our reflections behave. This is because it controls how light will interact with a surface. So what we're going to do is we are going to increase our Index of Refraction value to 4.
This is a typical hard-surface reflections setting. And again, with that change made, let's take a render. What we get now is looking much nicer. I am quite happy with the direction that our reflections are going in. And again, we're keeping our render times fairly low. Of course, feel free to experiment with the look of the reflections in your scene. You can work with the reflectivity color, the Index of Refraction, and the Shininess value to get things looking just how you like them. What we hopefully have demonstrated in the scene though is that having materials that reflect the world around them really is one of the keys to making more believable materials and so of course more believable renders.
We have the ability to use image maps or solid-color grayscale values. We can work with our Index of Refraction and Shininess parameters. When we combine all of these options together, we have a great deal of control over just how our reflections will be working.
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