Join Christian Bradley for an in-depth discussion in this video What is PBR?, part of PBR Materials with Blender & Quixel.
- [Voiceover] Let's take a look at what we mean by a PBR texture. As you can guess, a PBR, or a physically based rendered texture, is a little different than a regular rasterized image. Once you understand the tools behind a PBR-generated image, you'll see that you'll have better control and better outcomes than ever before. So, let's take a look. The concept behind PBR is to render real world materials as realistically as possible.
The software we're going to be using to create these realistic texture maps and materials will use the model's geometry to calculate how the material should look on the surface of that particular model. We can then save these surfaces, apply them to different models, and although the software will generate the same material, it may look different on another model depending on the form and volume of that particular mesh. It is important to understand that the main tools and concepts of the texture mapping process haven't really changed over the last decade, but the tools and processes for PBR-based maps may be new to you.
Don't worry, we'll cover what you need to know in this series, and I'm sure you'll find the new process easy enough to learn. So while the processes are new, we should cover a few things that might seem new to you in the PBR-based workflow. First is how a PBR workflow handles light and specular highlights. In older workflows, an artist would generate a specular, or spec map, to simulate light reflecting from a surface of a model. A PBR-based workflow will still generate a spec map, but also other maps, such as a metallic, reflection, and gloss maps, that will act in a similar way, but allow us to control additional material properties, such as microsurface detail and diffusion.
The older term, a spec map, will refer to the smoothness of the model and how much light bounces from the surface. The second difference is how diffuse maps are handled. In general, the diffuse map will look just like what you're used to. It is a color map, but from here on it'll be called an albedo map as we work through the PBR workflow. We'll also be generating something called gloss maps, which in many ways will replace our old school spec maps.
Gloss maps will allow us to control those microsurface details mentioned earlier. You can think of gloss maps as a starting point for determining the roughness or smoothness of a surface. We'll run into a few other differences as we move along, but for now this is a good place to start as those are the main differences from the basic Photoshop workflow that you might be used to. As you can see, a PBR-based texture combines many factors into a final texture map.
The PBR texture is generated using various map types to show off the mesh's geometry, simulate real-life surfaces, and allow us control over every aspect of the surface better than a simple rasterized image. Don't worry. We'll cover what you need to know in this series, and I'm sure that you'll find the new processes easy enough to learn.
By the end of the course, you should be excited about and more comfortable with the Quixel Suite and the Blender import and export system. This workflow is suitable for game assets, models destined for animation, visual effects, and more.
- What is PBR?
- Exporting a mesh from Blender
- Loading maps in Quixel DDO
- Making textures with DDO
- Setting up lighting in 3DO
- Flattening materials
- Using NDO
- Sculpting and painting normal maps
- Finishing materials with dust, dirt, and patina
- Rendering the project in 3DO