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How to Create Realistic Textures

April 12, 2021 by archilime-academy
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How do I create realistic textures?

Have you ever wondered how you can go from this…

Create Realistic Textures | A screenshot from SketchUp of a simple texture

…to this?

Create Realistic Textures | An advanced V-Ray material

Well, grab a brew and open up V-Ray – we want to show you how to create realistic textures using some common examples to help improve your texturing game within the V-Ray for SketchUp Pro workflow!

Basic Principles

Textures (see also; materials) are painted onto faces within your 3D modelling software, and these can be flat colours or image-based.

The process within SketchUp to import images to use as textures
The process within SketchUp to import images to use as textures

In our first example, we are going to begin developing a wood floor texture – and so we need to find an appropriate image to use here.

We recommend Poliigon or Extreme Textures if you are looking for high-resolution images to use as materials, whilst SketchUp Texture Club is another source with an extensive library.

In this example, we are importing Extreme Texture’s Antique Oak into SketchUp as a Texture, which will allow us to paint this onto a face.

The process within SketchUp to import images to use as textures
How to import images to use as textures within SketchUp

Now is a great time to check the scale – within the Materials panel of the tray; use the global size settings to ensure that our boards are scaled appropriately. To help me do this, I like to draw a guideline that equals the desired width of the board, so that I have something to reference.

Create Realistic Textures | Within SketchUp, we resize the texture globally using the material panel within the tray.
Using a guide line for reference, we resize the texture globally using the material panel within the tray.

Here we can see how important it is for our material to be seamless. There is a vast collection of seamless materials available from the sources mentioned above!

We now have a high-quality, seamless texture applied to our model which is the correct scale.

Why does this not look realistic yet?

Create Realistic Textures | A SketchUp texture

Building Blocks

Light.

What V-Ray allows us to do is to bounce light around our model and control how our materials interact with it.

Create Realistic Textures | How virtual textures are broken down within V-Ray for SketchUp
Virtual textures can be broken down into three maps.

As covered on our Access into V-Ray for SketchUp courses; most solid materials can be divided up into three mapsdiffuse, reflections and roughness.

The diffuse texture is what we see within our SKP model. This can be considered our ‘base’ texture and defines predominantly what the material looks like without lighting or roughness effects applied.

A diffuse map is often considered our base texture.
A diffuse map defines what our texture looks like. Texture map courtesy of Extreme Textures

If light bounces off an object and is not absorbed, then one sees a reflection. V-Ray has the ability to control the intensity and glossiness of reflections of materials within the scene by using reflection or specular (see also; spec) maps. For example, areas on a texture where one would see a glossy finish would show up as white on a spec map, whilst matt areas appear darker.

A specular map dictates where on the material we will see glossy or matte reflections
A specular map dictates where on the material we will see glossy or matte reflections. Texture map courtesy of Extreme Textures

Not all materials are as flat as a mirror; for this, we use a bump or normals map. Areas on a bump map that are darker are shown as depressions on the surface of the material when rendered, whilst the opposite occurs for lighter areas. Be careful with the intensity of bump or normal values – anything above 1 is normally not required.

A map that is used to simulate 3D depth to the texture.
A bump map is used to give the texture some 3D depth. Texture map courtesy of Extreme Textures
Adding Complexity

Hold on… how does glass work?

Refraction colour dictates how much light 'refracts' through a material.
Refraction colour dictates how much light ‘refracts’ through a material.

As we can see, the lighter we make the refraction colour, the more ‘glass-like’ our material becomes.

We can deduce that the setting to use that controls the transparent properties of glass is called refraction. Like with the reflection glossiness, we also have the opportunity to create frosted glass by adjusting the refraction glossiness value!

Refraction glossiness enables us to define shapes on the other side of the material.
Refraction glossiness enables us to define shapes on the other side of the material.

What about fabrics?

Depending on the qualities of the fabric in question, we would advise taking a look through the preset textures within V-Ray…

V-Ray offers plenty of preset fabric textures
V-Ray offers plenty of preset fabric textures

Once a similar fabric has been chosen, you can edit the colour and tones of the diffuse, by right-clicking on the bitmap slot within the Diffuse, and wrapping it in a Colour Correction. Here you will be able to modify the hue, saturation, brightness and contrast, to your liking.

Adjusting the colour of materials within V-Ray for SketchUp
Textures can be re-coloured by wrapping the diffuse in a Colour Correction adjustment.

Fabric textures now benefit from a new feature in V-Ray 5 for SketchUp where you can add a translucent layer for extra realism.

V-Ray 5 for SketchUp now offers the opportunity to add a coat to materials for added realism.
V-Ray 5 for SketchUp now offers the opportunity to add a coat to materials for added realism.

What if my texture seems to emit light?

One can add emissive layers to all materials within V-Ray as shown…

Emissive layers can be added to most materials.
Emissive layers can be added to most materials

You can also copy your Diffuse into your Emissive bitmap slot…

Diffuse maps can be added into the emissive texture slots
Diffuse maps can be added into the emissive texture slots

We cover how to create more realistic textures on our one-to-one, bespoke Development programs and Top-Up courses.

An example of high quality textures

Now that you know how to create realistic textures; Wrapping is a term we give to the application of a material to multiple faces within our model – much like the wrapping of a present with wrapping paper. We cover this in great detail on our Access into V-Ray for SketchUp courses.

We hope that you have enjoyed our texturing tips!

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