Reflection Vs Specular - Photoreal Car interior.


Hi everyone,

I have been taking a personal project for a year now, aiming for a photo real short animation of a Honda NSX. The modelling has gone well, just finishing the interior and then onto the engine.

For teh past 6 months I have been working (few hours a week) on the lighting and shading of teh car and trying to learn how to replicate real life lighting and camera exposure etc. I am pretty happy with the progress of the exterior shots, but am getting VERY frustrated with my interior shots.

My question is, what is better for replicating leather interiors, Specular or reflection?.. Here is an example image for discussion on how to best replicate this look…

And my progress so far on the exterior render…

Any advice and ideas on the lighting and texturing for the interior shots would be amazing! I have found it amazingly hard to find any good interior tutorials and trial and error at replicating photos is starting to get tedious…

My current setup is Softimage: Final Gather, GI, one main light and 2 or 3 fill area lights for an even lit area and specular. also teh environment map (HDRI) as you can see in the image above.

Kind regards,



If you’re using large lights (area light or hdr) to light your car, fake specular can produce really obvious artifacts. At least in V-ray’s case. Since large area light are probably the kind of light you’d need for a car shot, I’d go for real raytrace reflection.


Thanks for the reply - in that case what might the parameters for the reflection be… I imagine a map based on the bump map first, then some kind of incidence angle - perhaps based on light? If there wasn’t any incidence angle then it will look too reflective I think. Oh and also some blurr on the surface reflection.

Kind regards,


Regarding the exterior shot. Not sure what renderer your using but if its Mental Ray, you may want to look into the mip rayswitch node for your lighting. Essentially it takes any HDRI and emits light/reflections onto your object based off the values of that HDRI. You may also want to look into ‘HDR Light Studio’ to edit your HDRI and really push the shape of your vehicle. Your piece looks great so far, looking forward to seeing the end result.

HDR Light Studio:


Thanks for the words dmillercg. I have come across HDR studio, think I will check it out pretty soon and see what the fuss is about, it seems to have taken off pretty well recently.

I am a bit confused about the MIP Rayswitch node though - I thought it was to help optimise render times by limiting certain rays to certain elements?.. how you describe it I don’t see how it differs from using a normal environment map to reflect on surfaces and produce bounced light with FG?




In the process of testing out using reflection with blur and 0 specular and already the results are tonnes more realistic in just 10 minutes tweaking!!..

Thanks for teh feedback, think this will be the way forward. Pretty heavy on render times with blur reflection but worthwhile.


Hey sorry William its been a long day, I was using the wrong terminology; I meant to say check out the ‘user_ibl’ in Mental Ray. For a better and clearer explanation on the user_ibl I’ve posted a link below.

Elemental Ray Explanation:


Ahhh brilliant thank you :slight_smile: I thought it was probably just me missing something. I will have a read and see what I can make of it! Appreciate the info.


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