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Material Layering

How do you shade a shiny metal object with a layer of dirt or rust on top (or underneath)? Every application seems to have an opinion on this. The problem they solve is called Material Layering, and while it seems simple as a concept, it has quite a few catches, and quite a few solutions.

As physically based approaches are now pervasive, material layering has become again a topic of development and efforts are going into trying to standardize its description and its desired look.

I have been meaning to write about this for a while, as a lot of questions come up, from how to flatten a material to make it more efficient to render, to why blending between shiny and rough items doesn't always look right. I'll try to cover some of the answers that have I have seen in offline renders as well as some authoring tools. Color Layering If we go back far enough, Renderman had Reyes, a renderer that lets you literally ask for lighting at any point in your RSL (Renderman Shading Language) …

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