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- View Offline
- Comparing the menus, viewports, and other interface differences
- Enabling progressive rendering with the Physical Render engine
- Building and applying rigs with the character object
- Working with the new Collision Deformer
- Using the new shaders: Mograph Multi Shader, subsurface scattering, brick, and more
- Embracing the new stereoscopic workflow
Skill Level Intermediate
The Brick shader is one of those features that really doesn't seem all that interesting, until of course you actually need to make a brick wall. The redesigned Brick shader in R13 makes this repeating pattern super easy. So I have here a very basic scene, it's just a Cube object, and it's sitting on a plane that has a stone material applied to it, and what I want to do is to create a new material for the brick pattern to reside in. So let's go down here to the Material Manager, and double-click to create a new material, and I'm going to name this material Brick, and let's apply this brick material directly to the Cube object.
Let's bring up the Interactive Render Region, Option+R or Alt+R on the PC, and the Interactive Render Region, I've got the Quality slider turned all the way up here, and I've sized it, so that I can see my entire brick wall. Let's deselect the cube, so we don't see these arrows and handles, and then let's select the actual material. I'm going to start off from the Color channel with the brick material. So let's go into the Color channel, and in the Texture pulldown go to Surfaces and then Brick at the very top. You can see a pattern of bricks immediately show up on our object. Let's zoom in just a bit here, just dial in so we fill the screen little bit more.
You can see that the pattern is very regular and we've got an alternating row of darker bricks everywhere and that's due to the settings in the Brick shader. Let's go into the Brick shader by clicking on the swatch here. The Shader has four basic categories to it, the Shader properties which control the size and shape of the bricks, the Color properties which control the colors of the bricks, and then the Gaps which controls what happens in between the bricks, and then the Dirt property which allows you to make the bricks less pristine. Let's start off in the Shader property, and I'm happy with the size and scale, but I could also adjust if I wanted to make my bricks smaller, I could bring the Scale down to say about 15%.
You can see that the brick pattern gets a lot smaller, let's bring it back up to about 20% so we have some nice large bricks there. You can also make the Height and Width a little more uneven. The part that I'm interested in though is the Shift and Reset, and the Shift and Reset allows me to randomize the pattern a little bit. I'm going to adjust the Shift to like 75% and you can see that's going to offset the pattern and then the Reset Every nth Row, if I turn that up about 3, you'll see that as I turn it up, the pattern offsets and starts to reset itself every six rows, and that gives me a much more randomized feel to it.
So let's go down to the Color options, and in the Color options I don't like these dark rows that are showing up, and so what I want to do is change the Alt Brick Color. I can twirl open the properties for the Alt Brick Color, and select the gradient knot here, and I am going to take this gradient knot color and I want to make it the same as this gradient. So I can click on that, and in the Color Picker I can bring that up to about here or so, maybe get a little more red in there, and then close that up. You can see that blends those alternate colors in a little bit more. Let's twirl close the Gradient property here, and there is a Brick Noise scale, and let's zoom in on that.
And the Brick Noise Scale controls how much noise you get in the actual bricks themselves, let's zoom in really close on that, that's one of the great things about this being a shader is that you can zoom in very close, and I can adjust the scale, let's bring it down to about 25%. You'll see the pattern of noise on the bricks get a little more dense. I can adjust the details, let's bring that up to say 15%, and you'll see that pattern get even more intense. That's a little too heavy so let's bring that back down to say 5%. Now let's move over to the Gaps. The Gaps control what happens in between the bricks, I can adjust the color using this gradient here, the one I'm really concerned about is the Noise Scale, I want to tighten that up.
Let's bring the Noise Scale down to about .5; you're going to see the noise pattern in between the bricks really tighten up, and you can see it got a lot more dense there. You can also adjust the size and variation, but we're going to leave those alone right now. The Dirt option we're going to come back and adjust later. So that's it for the Color property for these bricks for now, and let's back out a bit, so we can see the whole wall. I'm going to go up one level in the Material, now what I need to do is these bricks look okay, but they don't feel very realistic yet, that's because we need to give the bricks some dimension, and we're going to do that using the Displacement channel.
So let's go back to the Basic properties and let's add in displacement, and one of the cool things that we can do is we can use this exact same brick pattern to modify the displacement of this cube. So let's go to the Color property, and we're going to click on the Texture pulldown and go to Copy Channel, and the Copy Channel, when I select it, copies the properties that I have here in this Brick shader to the clipboard, and then when I go to the Displacement channel, I can click on this Texture pulldown and I can paste those very same properties back down again. When I do that, you're going to see my material modify dramatically here, but you don't see anything happening here, that's because the Displacement channel is resolution dependent.
It's based on the resolution of the surface of your object and it's based on the resolution of the material. Right now, our Cube object is just one large rectangle, and one polygon can't be displaced, so we have to subdivide it. So I'm going to take the X and Y values and let's bring that up to about 20x20, and when I select the Cube, you're going to see -- let's turn off the Interactive Render Region for just a second. You can see that I now have more polygons on the surface of that cube, whereas before I had one polygon. Let's bring the Interactive Render Region back up, Option+R or Alt+R on the keyboard.
Now if we zoom in, you're going to notice we still don't see very much displacement, that's because if we go to the Material, let's click back on Material and go into the Displacement property. The Height right now is set to only 5 units, so let's crank this up a bunch. Let's bring it to say 25. It's about 5 times larger, you see that the bricks got a little bit lumpy in spots, and that's because, once again, we still don't have quite enough polygons, but rather than keep cranking up the density of the polygons and the cube, I'm going to turn on something called Sub-Polygon Displacement, which will virtually subdivide the polygons at render time, and give me a much more interesting result.
So let's turn on Sub-Poly Displacement and instantly you'll see the brick pattern reveal itself. Now what's happening now is that the mortar in between the bricks is protruding through, and we want to reverse that so that the mortar goes into the bricks, and so we take the Strength and we're going to reverse that to -100. And you see now we have the brick pattern coming in there. Let's bring the Subdivision Level up one more value, let's bring it up to 6, that's going to tighten that pattern up for us a lot more, there we go. Now you can see that we have very clearly defined bricks, and we have a very clearly defined gaps in the bricks.
It's a little too thick right now, so let's take the Height down about 15, there we go. That makes the gaps a little less pronounced, and makes the brick pattern a little more subdued. So that's it for the displacement. The next thing we want to do in the Basic properties is to turn on the Bump, and the Bump map is going to allow us to give a little more personality to these bricks, and so I'll turn on Bump, nothing happens at first, that's because the Bump value needs to have a grayscale image in order to work and we're going to use Noise for that. So let's go to Noise, we'll click on that and add a noise filter. Now the default noise is not what we want, you can see it's added in this kind of wavy looking pattern.
We're going to click on the Shader here, and there's a great little pulldown on here that allows you to see some interesting pictures, and those represent all the different Noise types. We're going to grab one called Poxo, and the Poxo one is this little guy right here, and it looks a lot like asphalt or brick, and when we add it in, you're going to see that Bump pattern changed dramatically. There we go, that starts to look a lot more brick like. It's a little too heavy now, let's go up to the main level of the material and bring the Strength down to about say 15%. Now the last piece of the puzzle, our bricks feel really shiny right now. We need to make them a lot less shiny, but we don't want to make them universally less shiny, we want to make them less shiny based on a random pattern, so they feel little bit more weathered.
So on the Basic properties, I'm going to activate Specular Color, and the Specular Color channel controls where the specular highlight shows up, and what color it is when it does show up. In the Specular Color channel we're going to, go to the Texture pulldown and add in Noise again, and you're going to see our specular highlight change a little bit, and it's that same default pattern, that's not very interesting. Let's go to the Noise parameters again, and let's click on this little image and let's grab Stupl I think will look really nice, add in the Stupl effect and you see it breaks up that Noise pattern nicely. Let's make the Stupl much larger, Global Scale of say 1000, that's going to distribute that pattern a little more interestingly across the surface.
There we go, let's back out so we can see our wall in all its glory. It starts to look much more interesting and much more realistic. The last piece in the puzzle is the Dirt parameter in the Brick shader. Let's go back to our Brick Material, and in the Color channel, click on the Brick Swatch, and let's activate the Dirt. We're going to enable that, and we can have all kinds of different dirt patterns here. What we want to do is we want to have it go darker, and the way we're going to do that is by adjusting the Brick Blending. We're going to bring this Brick Blending down to -100, and that's going to multiply that back into the brick pattern. There we go.
Now our brick wall looks really, really nice. So as you can see, the Brick shader is a great resource, and the repeating patterns that it makes have a lot of really great graphic possibilities, not just brick walls, but all kinds of fun stuff.