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Old 26-09-2010, 06:45 AM   #1
radiant777
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Default Creating a reflective mirror

Are there any tutorials on how to create a reflective glass mirror in maya? Been searching on line but can only find how to mirror geometry.

Thanks,

Gary
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Old 26-09-2010, 08:17 AM   #2
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I couldnt find a tut but found this thread online..

http://forums.cgsociety.org/archive/...p/t-90236.html

cheers bullet
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Old 28-09-2010, 06:49 AM   #3
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Modern mirror glass is actually coated with a material made from a mix of different metals, you can see this sometimes as black spots where little bits have fallen off the surface, so creating a highly reflective metal such as chrome would be the easiest way to go.
To create a chrome shader use a Blinn at default settings and set reflectivity to 1. In order for this shader to work and allow for reflections you'll need to have lights and raytrace the scene, if not this shader will render black. Raytracing is enabled in the Maya software tab under Raytracing quality.

How the mirror glass will look depends entirely on the environment it's in, so this will be determined by the lights and other materials that are present in the scene. A mirror itself in isolation would have nothing to reflect, whereas if you have lots of different colored objects in the scene something like this will come out a lot nicer.

Different metals will have different values of reflectivity, also they have a very low diffuse values and recieve most of their illumination from their specular highlights so keep this in mind.

As for the specular settings they're dependent on your scene, a specular highlight is a reflection of a light source so you want to tweak these settings to match up with the distance to the light source if it's visible. In the case of a mirror you often get very large and wide areas of specularity if the scene it's in is bright.

If you render this in mental ray instead you have the option to blur the reflections as well, if you go down to the mental ray tab in the attribute editor for the material you'll find a setting called mi reflection blur where you can adjust this. In the real world no reflections come out without at least a slight blur, as for a mirror you'd probably want reflections to come out quite sharp unless it's an older mirror or you're going for a special effect of some kind. Mental ray can give you some better results as you have architectural materials specifically designed to create things like glass and metals, also they include a lot of presets, but these materials are a bit more difficult to use than Maya materials such as the Blinn as they're a lot more complicated. But if you want something photoreal you would need to go with mental ray. Another advantage mental ray has is that you can use image based lighting, which allows you to create some really nice looking reflections on an object.

Again, how a material reflects light and what kind of specular highlights it will produce comes down to the way it was created in nature so to get some really nice results in terms of photorealism you'd need to take the different properties of the metals that go into this metal coating into consideration, as well as the shape of the geometry you're applying the mirror glass to. Reflections and specular highlights are also view dependent in the sense that they will change depending on the angle between the material surface, light source and the camera, so they will move as you move the camera in your scene.

I hope this helps, it's quite difficult to find information on the topic of shading and how to create basic shaders online, I know I've struggled a lot with it in the past. If you want some more in depth information there's a really good book called Advanced Maya Lighting and Texturing by Lee Lanier, it takes you from the very basics to some fairly complicated stuff and has quite a bit on reflectivity. As well I've just finished making a tutorial on practical lighting and shading which goes over how to create shaders for things like glass, shiny and brushed metals, satin, plastic, porcelain, matte fabrics etc. because it's actually quite easy to get some really nice results and as I said before finding good information on this subject is difficult unless you turn to books. So you might want to check that out if this is a topic you'd want to learn some more about, it should be up on the site tomorrow.

There's also some good lighting and shading blogs, most of the things I read are on 3ds max but if you know the basics it can be applied to Maya easilly enough. I'll have a look later and see if I can find the links and post them up for you.

Best of luck with the mirror!
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Old 28-09-2010, 07:33 AM   #4
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Wow M-N that is a bucket load of info!!!! I will print and save in the archives.....thanks mate!!!

cheers bullet
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Old 29-09-2010, 08:03 AM   #5
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You're welcome bullet, if you just get your head around something like reflectivity by thinking about how it works in the real world all these things start to become quite simple. I think a lot of the time in terms of 3D people forget to take into consideration how lights and materials work together because many tutorials explain these things in isolation which is kind of misleading. Doing it this way is really bad as if I look in the bathroom mirror with the lights turned off I will see nothing of what's actually there, so if course this will apply to Maya as well.

Anyway we'll be putting out lots of content on the site covering these topics in the next few months, we'll add some parts to the free section as well so check them out if you want to learn more about these things. I've spent a long time planning and structuring these tutorials to include lots of good real world examples and focus them around how to get results, rather than how to twek individual material attributes which in the end of the day will do nothing as they're adjusted without taking lighting into consideration. I'm hoping it might get some people more interested in shading and lighting, because there is so much to it and although getting something photorealistic will take a lot of time and knowledge you can get really good rendering results knowing only the basics and this is a great feeling.

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Old 29-09-2010, 09:59 AM   #6
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also, set the colour to black.
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Old 29-09-2010, 09:12 PM   #7
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As well I added a basic example to show metallic shaders under some different lighting conditions, the one to the far left is chrome with color to black, the other two spheres are default grey and white.

As the diffuse value works as a multiplier of the color you will get the same result by setting the diffuse to black, this is what I wanted point out in my first post. Because other metals such as gold or copper are based on low diffuse values and colored specularity where they get most of their illumination from the specular highlight I added a blinn with a yellow color, a diffuse value of 0.2, and the specular color set to the same as the material color for the final sphere as we're on the topic. All polished metals can be made this way, it's simply a question of getting the color, reflectivity and specular highlight right to work with the ligthing conditions in your scene and to mimic the metal you're trying to make. If you leave the color at black, set the diffuse value high instead and keep the specular highlight at yellow you'll get a similar result in a case like this.

With something like a mirror, I think you'd want some more diffuse than in the case of chrome as mirrors come out quite bright even when there's very little light in the scene, again getting perfect looking mirror glass would be difficult and mental ray or maxwell materials would be much better suited in terms of something photorealistic.
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Old 29-09-2010, 09:15 PM   #8
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First one...
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Old 29-09-2010, 09:16 PM   #9
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Second one...
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Old 29-09-2010, 09:19 PM   #10
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And the final one. The lighting's not very good, the first two have only a point light source and this one has indirect illumination from a skydome in addition, but it shows that what's in your environment to reflect and how bright it is will affect the outcome a lot. You can also see that the specular highlights are based on the position of the point light.
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