Creating A "Big Ball Of Water"

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  06 June 2006
Creating A "Big Ball Of Water"

Hey everybody. Long time reader, first time poster.

Anyway, has anybody ever seen the show Alias? Yes? No? Well, in either case, my assignment is to create an effect similar to one found frequently throughout the show. (A good example here: However, I suck, really suck when it comes to using shaders, and I have no idea how to even get started with something like this. Every attempt I have, well, attempted, it comes out looking like wrinkled plastic on a sphere. If anyone could point me in the right direction it would be much appriciated.

Thanks in advance,

  06 June 2006
I wouldn't really say that image looks like water, but it's pretty easy to reproduce. Make a phong material, and set its color to orange. The plug a brownian texture to its bump slot. That's pretty much it.

If you want moving waves, it gets a little more complicated. You might want to try one of the animatable noise textures instead. Actually, you could do it with the brownian too if you just animate the position of its placement node.

That should get you started. Play around with the various noise types to get the waves you like. Add some transparency and refraction if you want it to actually look like liquid.
  06 June 2006
If you are using a blinn, try setting the Eccentricity to something like 0.07 and the Specular falloff to something like 4 and the Specular colour's V value to something like 3. A lot of the effect of water comes from the reflection of the environment. You may want to take an env sphere material and map a lightprobe texture onto it and use it on the reflection colour attribute of your blinn. Set the reflectivity to something small like say 0.1. I think it might work... Have a go and see..

  06 June 2006
It almost looks like car paint... and how funny, it's not even displaced! Good old bump mapping.

p.s I love that show!
~ Jared Martin

Maya, 3Delight, mentalray, Maxwell Render, ZBrush
Photoshop, Fusion, Vegas Pro, Syntheyes
  06 June 2006
Awesome, thanks guys.

I've definitely made improvements, but I'm still getting the plasticy look. It's something to do with the specular, probably. Too high, and it gets glossy looking. Too low and it's just dull and flat. And the shadows from the bump map seem to be too strong, or at least too present in the image (compared to the effect from the show) no matter what I set the bump values to.

Here I'm just using a blinn with it's color set to red. The bump is a water texture, with a brownian texture set in the water's color gain slot. On the right the specular is set to the settings Lamster gave me, and on the right, both specular falloff and the specular color value are set to .5. (I'm also using an HDR probe to light this, if that's useful in anyway.)
Attached Images
File Type: jpg redball.jpg (61.2 KB, 119 views)
  06 June 2006
Originally Posted by Limblifter: I've definitely made improvements, but I'm still getting the plasticy look. It's something to do with the specular, probably.

A simple guideline is that synthetic materials have white highlights/reflections, and natural materials reflect their own color. That's because plastics and paints and similar materials are really color pigment (the diffuse part) suspended in a generally transparent or whitish medium (the reflective surface).

On the other hand, metals and other naturally colored materials are their color throughout.

Since your liquid ball isn't transparent, you'll have to decide whether you want it to look like liquid paint/plastic or a liquid metal, and choose your highlights accordingly.

Also, keep in mind that liquids generally would have a very small highlight, so tighten it up if you want it to look wetter.
  06 June 2006
Water is transparent man, even coloured water. Murky water would require you to have some Subsurface Scattering stuff which I think is not your intent. Make your water transparent and as the previous posters said, make your highlight smaller and Whiter. Water has very very hard highlights, and at the angles that it reflects (the fresnel effect), you almost get a mirror. You migth get a better result using the maya ocean shader instead.. I dunno. I've never really tried it. The only time I tried to make water was to apply a blinn as I described onto a Realflow generated Mesh. It looked pretty much like water to me heheh...

  06 June 2006
Try something like this:

Displacment looks good and renders fast in MR (though I should have layered the displacement texture). Make sure your water has interesting stuff to reflect (that's so important!) and an IOR of 1.333. Then set the material's (be it Blinn or Phong) Reflection and Refraction Depth to a min of 3 each. Set this in the Render Globals and on your light under Ray Trace Shadows. My water ball reflects more on the edges at glancing angles thanks to the old ramp/sampler info connection:
twitter | vimeo
  06 June 2006
Hey guys, thanks a lot. I'm making progress, which is good.

I'm having trouble "tightening" the spec. Like I said, I am terrible with shaders. I've tightened it a bit, but I'm not totally familiar enough to know how to do it further. Unless I'm doing it wrong altogether (I'm not new to Maya, I swear!).

YourDaftPunk, thanks. That definitely helped, although it didn't look a whole lot different, just slightly more transparent. I'm probably doing something wrong (nothing new there) but I have no idea what; I followed your diagram to a T. I'll post a picture a bit later when I get the chance.
  06 June 2006
The difference between yours and mine is the light
Mine is much stronger. I also have brighter reflections. If you can't get your scene where your want I can upload or email you my scene.
twitter | vimeo
  06 June 2006
Perhaps you best post/send ( that scene. I tried futzing with the light and reflection values, and ended up getting just a really blown out/whitewashed looking image. I honestly have no idea. Thanks again, this is really helping me out.

Also, I took a look at the reference image again and thought that perhaps SSS might not be a bad idea. Is that the way to go? I tried (haphazardly) to impliment it myself but things went all sorts of wrong, so I figured it best to leave it to the people who know. Anybody have any ideas?
  06 June 2006
Here is a version with a Mental Ray dielectric material- a more accurate shader. The light has quadratic decay which is more natural as well. Kinda like the other one though. (To be fair this is a lower quality render, I was impatient).

And both scenes:

twitter | vimeo
  06 June 2006
Thanks a whole lot, dude. I haven't got the time to check it out yet, but I really appriciate it.

I considered using a dielectric material when I first started, but past experiences with it have just left me beating my head against the wall. And DGS, for whatever reason, just wasn't looking right.
  06 June 2006
The dielectric material turned out great. Thanks a whole lot, I doubt the idea of using it would have even entered my mind. I'm going to play around with it a little more than I have, work a bit more with the specular highlights and all that, but it looks great so far!

I'm still playing around with the idea of using SSS on this though (although not to any avail), if anybody has some tips. That is, if it would be worthwhile to use SSS in the first place.

  06 June 2006
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