Join George Maestri for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating reflections , part of Blender Essential Training.
Now let's take a look at how to do reflections in Blender. I have a simple scene here, and it's got a couple of spheres, a cylinder, and a camera. And let's go ahead and just do a quick render. I am going to hit F12. And what you can see here is that, well, there are no reflections. We have a couple of solid spheres and the checkerboard on our floor plane. So I am going to go ahead and add reflections to the sphere, and we will go through so many options for reflections on that object.
So I am going to go ahead and expand this up a little bit here so we could see it. So I have my sphere and it has a texture on it called Sphere. Let's go ahead and change that to Reflective so that way we have a more descriptive name, and let's scroll down to the Mirror rollout here. And this is where we can add reflections. But before I do that I'm actually going to go ahead and collapse some of these rollouts, so that way we can see it along with the preview.
So when I turn on Mirror, it gives me a bunch of controls. The most important control is called Reflectivity, and this is how much it reflects. And you can actually see how this works in the preview. So if I turn it up, you can see how that checkerboard is reflected in that viewport. So let's just put this right in the middle. Let's just put it a .5 and just hit F12 to render. So you can see how this adds some additional reflectivity. So this makes us ball from a white ball into kind of a shiny metal ball, or a mirrored ball.
And so if we want we can bring up Reflective a whole lot. If we bring it up all the way, it becomes perfectly reflective, which is not so natural, so let's go ahead and roll that back a little bit. I am going to keep it at .75, just so that we have a pretty good reflection for this example. Below this we have a color picker. So right now it's set to white, which means it will reflect whatever color is given to it, but we can tint the reflection with this color picker.
So if I click on it and I give it kind of a purple hint here, you can see how that affects my preview, and it also affects my scene. So the saturation of this color determines how much it's tinted. So if I go over to my HSV here, I can turn down the Saturation and you can see how it becomes less of an effect. So you can really still see the tint here in the whites of that checkerboard, but as the Saturation goes down, that tinting goes down as well. And I am going to go ahead and turn that to 0.
Now over here to the right we have Fresnel effect, and that's pretty much the same as the Fresnel effect we saw before when using ramps, but let's go ahead and take a look at it. I am going to turn this up to 3, and you can see how it affects the reflections. Basically what it does is it pushes the reflections off to the side. So when I have the Fresnel up above 1, that actually tends to make the center less reflective and the edges are the ones that receive all the reflections.
Now this Blend control basically just controls how that Fresnel effect blends into the object here, and you can see how that works in the preview. So I am going to go ahead and turn Fresnel off. We are going to turn it back to 0 here. And now let's take a look at Depth. Now Depth controls how many times an object or material reflects. So in this case I have it set to 2, so when I render, I can have up to two reflections.
This doesn't work as well with just one object in the scene, because what we need to do is have something reflecting a reflection in order to see how this works. So let's go ahead and make the floor reflective. I am going to go ahead right-click on the object called Floor; in fact, you can see it here in the outliner. And if I scroll up here, you will see I have a checker pattern applied, or a checker material applied. So if I hit my material selector here, I can scroll down and find the Reflective material that we created.
And when I do that, both the floor and the sphere have that reflective material. So I am going to go ahead and scroll back up so we can see our options here. So let's take a look at Depth. I am going to go ahead turn Depth down to 0 and do a quick render. And this shows it very, very well, because really we are not reflecting any reflections. So the sphere sees the plane without reflections, so it sees it in kind of a neutral color.
Same for the floor. The floor sees the sphere. It's not reflecting the reflections. If I turn that up to 1, you can see that little bit more clearly. So what we've got here is now I'm reflecting the reflection one time. It still creates a little bit of a spot there. So if we want, we can turn it up to say 3 or 4 and then render again. Once you get enough iterations, you get a realistic effect. So it depends on how many reflective objects you have in the scene.
Now more Depth will affect render performance because you're bouncing more light waves around. So I am going to go ahead and select the plane again, and I'm going to change it back to that checker pattern, and then let's go ahead and right-click back on the sphere. And I want to take a look at Max Distance. So if I do a quick render here, you'll see that it's basically reflecting everything, and this controls how far an object reflects.
So when Max Distance is at 0, it reflects everything. As soon as we bring it up above 0--let's bring in up to 6. So if I render this with a Max Distance of 6, you will see that, well, it's kind of seeing the spheres, but it doesn't have enough distance to see the cylinder, and it certainly doesn't see the sky. So what we can do is we can actually limit how far things reflect, and that can actually be very useful.
So if I want, I can turn this up to a larger number, let's say about 20, and if I render, there you can see how now it's starting to get a little bit of the sky, but it's not perfect. So if I set it back to 0, you can see how it does a perfect reflection. Now the last parameter is called Gloss, and that's over here. By default it's at 1 and makes the object perfectly glossy. How you use this is you turn down the Gloss. And by default it can be kind of sensitive, so let's go ahead and just turn it to .9 and do a quick render, and you'll instantly see a little bit of a difference. You will see how the reflections are a little bit blurry.
They're not perfect, and this can be great. What it says is that surface is not perfectly reflective. As we turn it down--let's go ahead turn it down to say .7--and do another render, you see how it starts to fizzle out actually pretty quickly. So something even as high as .8 will give you some effect, but again, it will blur it out fairly quickly. Now also notice how this might be a little bit modeled. This is because we have a number of samples. And the higher the number of samples the more accurate this will be, but again, at the expense of rendering time.
So those are some of the basics of how to add reflectivity to some of your materials in Blender. Now reflections can add a lot of realism, but if they're too perfect, they start to lose realism. So try to find ways either using Max Distance or Gloss or even the Fresnel effect to give it a little bit of variation in its reflectivity, which will add a lot more life to your objects.
- 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
Skill Level Beginner
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.