Blender: Useful Node Layouts (Cycles)

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Blender: Useful Node Layouts (Cycles)

Postby ProtocolX27 » Sun Jan 19, 2014 8:36 pm

Recently, I have had some more time to continue my quest for Blender render improvement. I spent a large chunk of time on improving some techniques which has been challenging since I wasn't able to find any common methods OR I was just looking in the wrong place. Learning nodes can be a trial and error process to achieve desired results. Since my skill set was greatly expanded by knowledge shared from members of this community, I though I'd pay it forward to hopefully save others the same laborious efforts. :)

Blender Node Layouts

Normal Map
Bump Map
Multiple Bump Maps

Blender Layouts
Sample Node Setups
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Re: Blender: Useful Node Layouts (Cycles)

Postby ProtocolX27 » Sun Jan 19, 2014 8:40 pm

Normal Map - Node Layout

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Normal maps are helpful to add realism. If you have an available normal map this is a simple layout to implement.

Image Texture Node (2nd): Make sure to note that the first drop down box is set to 'Non-color Data'

Normal Map Node: I've used both Tangent & Object Space and achieved similar results, but setting an appropriate Strength value is important. When combining with bump maps, I've noticed the Normal can over power the bump maps if set too high.
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Re: Blender: Useful Node Layouts (Cycles)

Postby Love2Raid » Mon Jan 20, 2014 4:24 am

Thanks Proto, this will come in handy when I will work on some new renders. :hug:
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Re: Blender: Useful Node Layouts (Cycles)

Postby ProtocolX27 » Mon Jan 20, 2014 7:41 am

Glad to help! :D


Bump Map - Node Layout

Image

I was really struggling to find a method to apply bump mapping to skin and this did the trick. At first I was using a repeated image, but discovered the regular spec map also worked without repeating the image. This method of course depends on whether your have a matching spec map file, but you can always make your own.

Image Texture Node: Like with the Normal Process and working with light stuff, make sure the first drop down is set to 'Non-Color Data'.

Multiply (Math) Node: This one was a curve ball at first. The node is actually found under Convert > Math. Change the type to Multiply and and then adjust the value to the desired amount. By using this method the 2nd value essentially becomes the strength of the bump map applied. I've found that values between .01 and .5 are best for maps in use. Setting them to high will make them look really bad.

Material Output: Notice these nodes connect to the Displacement socket unlike others.
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Re: Blender: Useful Node Layouts (Cycles)

Postby ProtocolX27 » Mon Jan 20, 2014 9:54 am

Multiple Bump Maps - Node Layout

Image

So if one bump map isn't enough for ya, here's a method that allows the ability to add multiples. In this example I use a spec map & and a tiled skin map that found on Google and converted to black and white.

Texture Coordinate Node: Pretty simple, this informs the mapping node to use the mesh's UV.

Mapping Node: Note the X,Y scale properties to adjust the size / number of tiles of the tile-able texture.

Image Texture Nodes: Note that both are still using 'Non-Color Data'

Multiply (Math) Nodes: The 2nd value in each still functions like a strength modifier, so adjust these to manipulate the strength of the bump map.

Add (Math) Node: This seemed to work effectively as a way to combine the bump maps. I kept the value as Add, and didn't have any issue.
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Re: Blender: Useful Node Layouts (Cycles)

Postby Hiddenus » Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:04 am

ProtocolX27 wrote:Multiple Bump Maps - Node Layout

Image

So if one bump map isn't enough for ya, here's a method that allows the ability to add multiples. In this example I use a spec map & and a tiled skin map that found on Google and converted to black and white.

Texture Coordinate Node: Pretty simple, this informs the mapping node to use the mesh's UV.

Mapping Node: Note the X,Y scale properties to adjust the size / number of tiles of the tile-able texture.

Image Texture Nodes: Note that both are still using 'Non-Color Data'

Multiply (Math) Nodes: The 2nd value in each still functions like a strength modifier, so adjust these to manipulate the strength of the bump map.

Add (Math) Node: This seemed to work effectively as a way to combine the bump maps. I kept the value as Add, and didn't have any issue.


It indeed works. But B&W textures designed for displacement and are called bump maps (their data is about height of the surface). XNA community learned wrong that normal maps are bump maps.
Normal maps (those purple/red/green/blue) are about in which direction surface is deformed. So turning direction of deformation into height data will give not so cool results as using normals (or bump maps) properly.

Just saying to correct the knowledge here. :LOL:
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Re: Blender: Useful Node Layouts (Cycles)

Postby ProtocolX27 » Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:52 pm

Thanks, yeah, I'm a noob at that correct application of this stuff. I had a tough time finding specific examples, plus I was working within whatever source files were available.

If you have an example of what it should look like with the nodes, I could experiment with how it should be. :)
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Re: Blender: Useful Node Layouts (Cycles)

Postby Hiddenus » Mon Mar 24, 2014 8:08 am

ProtocolX27 wrote:Thanks, yeah, I'm a noob at that correct application of this stuff. I had a tough time finding specific examples, plus I was working within whatever source files were available.

If you have an example of what it should look like with the nodes, I could experiment with how it should be. :)


Well... Took me long enough, but I have an example image for you. It was simple, but I had no time for that.
Anyway...
Image
Image is clickable ;)

As u can see normalmaps are not so detailed as displacemaps (aka bumpmaps).
Difference between each is:
- displace is about height of fake deformation of surface by up/down (white= up, black = down)
- normals are about fake deforming of surface into specific direction (XYZ = RGB but I'm not sure which color leads to which direction)

So basicly XNALara (and obviously XPS too) models are using normalmaps. Someone on the beginning named it wrong and that wrong name sticked to it in pretty much whole community. Sad, but that's how I see it.
As u can see if u want to combine both displacement and normalmapping then u should keep them in range 0.000 - 0.500 (for some reason if u set 1.000 for normals it will hide displacement, while displacement will slightly hide normalmapping if set to 1.000)

So for XNALara/XPS purposes the normalmapping should be used only when we're not talking about those smaller textures adding this small detail texture. In Lara_shorts for example it's called shirt_bump1.png
Those small ones can be set to displacement, because they're so small that they'll give the proper result without loosing in quality.

I hope I didn't made it too complicated.
I sometimes make "thinking maze". Specially when writing in english ;P
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Re: Blender: Useful Node Layouts (Cycles)

Postby ProtocolX27 » Tue Feb 02, 2016 10:00 am

After a couple years worth of breaks and new intel, I've been updating some methods on how I do things. To share that knowledge I've included a .blend file with a basic mesh and same simple node layouts that I use. You can append the blend file to an existing project or use it as a starter if you wish. I may elaborate on details in the future, but that will depend on time.

Blender Layouts (Included in Attachment)
- Basic Lighting, Camera
- Basic Shaders (Transparency, Emission)
- Standard* Shaders (Default, Multiple Bump Maps, Emission, Hair, Skin)

* By Standard, I mean what I use regularly for Diffuse, Normal Maps & Specular/Bump combined.
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