Adding Dirt

This tutorial outlines various methods of mapping your models to look realistic - in essence, dirtying up the otherwise shiny "super real" look of computer generated imagery.

Level: Medium

Perhaps the most useful method of creating additional detail to your scenes - scope mapping allows the user to add additional materials to a single object/level. Each successive material takes precedence over the previous material. e.g. the material at the bottom of the select window is placed on TOP of the material underneath in the model. (i.e. each material is layered successively, the lower in the select window, the closer to the top or front of the material.)

This is useful for adding graffiti to walls - rust stains, drains in the ground - or overlay any object or material. To effectively use scope mapped materials - one generally makes use of an alpha channel or seperate image that is used to 'cut' the material (unless a simple square parallel map suffices). This alpha channel can be applied to:

Obviously we can map any image to any channel in Realsoft 3D - but for the purposes of this exercise we shall deal with scope and fade mapping. To achieve the "cutting" action can also be brought about by a variety of means:

Fade mapping with the CLIP function

The clip material uses a color range to determine what extent should be cut. This material is best used for areas of solid color. If the mapped material has a blue background, we can set the clipping range to encompass all the blues to cut out. Refer to:

example project file: dirt/projects/iron.r3d

In this scene, the blue in the image is used as a mask. We can set any color as a range - ideally it would be a color that is not used in the image. This method generally produces a hard edge and is probably the least desirable.

Scope mapping with two images

The next scene example project file is: dirt/projects/scope01.r3d.

This example uses two separate images. The diffuse color image D_manhole.jpg and an Alpha image (Cutout) called A_manhole.jpg. Its often a good idea to prefix all your textures with B_ for Bump, A_ for Alpha, etc.

This simple scene has mapped two materials onto one object. The foundation is the concrete material that surrounds the whole floor. On TOP of that (i.e. below it in the select window) we have put our manhole texture. Note the structure of the manhole texture.

It is very simple : The Scope channel is set to our alpha channel image (shown above). Note that black designates complete transparency - and white designates solid areas of color. Any grey between these values would give a soft transition between the two.

The color channel is set to the color image of the manhole. Note that the color image does not need to be cut out. The alpha image or channel does this for us.

The end result is a manhole sitting in concrete on one object. The scope channel is very useful for adding all manner of materials on top - Windows, graffiti, leaves, grime, etc.

Dripping rust often congregates under beams and appendages - adding a simple scope rust material over and over again can add whole dimensions to your scene - all from either an image map or simply a dark color mapped on top of another material with 0.25 % scope.

Materials Useful for Dirty Mapping

Adding Noise over materials

Using a low scope - one can "dirty" otherwise bland areas or disguise repetitive materials by simply adding a noise texture.

Faking shadows

Using a simple greyscale gradient image, we can add shadows under eaves, or add subtle radiosity like effects to objects. Adjust the scope level to increase or decrease the effect of the material.

project: dirt/gradient.r3d

Angle based scope

This material takes into account an objects ANGLE to the materal mapping - hence we can add "dust" to the top of objects simply by applying this material downward. Often having a white down material and a dark up material can effectively simulate both sun burn on top and grime underneath.

project: dirt/dust.r3d

Darker bumps

This material uses the height of the bump to add grime into the gaps. It essentially only burns the darker regions of the bump material - but can be good for tiles and very rough materials.

project: dirt/dirtybump.r3d

Perpendicular scope

This can be used to fine tune materials that should only fall on a certain area of an object - used in conjuction with a finite mapping method - this is particularly useful for additional dust and grime.

project: dirt/smscope.r3d

Truly Effective materials make use of the whole gamut of available channels: Specularity, Color, Fade, Bump, Transparency, etc. Through clever use of materials we can keep geometry to a minimum and maximize the realism of a scene. Let's have a look at a scene created earlier and examine how it works.