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rendering » Yekaterina Satanina
Jul 192015

So I’ve brought the little scene into Blender and redid the lighting and materials. I did some research on liquids, refractive materials, and subsurface scattering. Found some good resources and cool people, about whom I shall write later. For now, here’s the progress (Maya/MentalRay on the left, Blender/Cycles on the right):


For now, MentalRay is winning! But I think that might just be because I’m still more comfortable and more familiar with Hypershade than with Blender’s material nodes. However, I have noticed some limitations in Blender. See that nice half-transparent reddish-yellowish rim on the coffee, in the cup, on the left side? That was three simple, self-explanatory settings. Achieving the same effect in Blender, see.. I haven’t gotten there quite yet.

Blender has a pretty limited set of nodes to work with. Granted, you can do a lot with those nodes, but I still find myself wishing for more. Also, for more connections, as Blender’s nodes are limited in their in- and out- connections, whereas MentalRay nodes usually have a lot more to offer. However, Blender does make a couple of things easier. Its shaders are pretty “good to go” out of the box: the glass, glossy, SSS, volume absorption, and translucency are just a few of the really nice ones that require very little tweaking (as opposed to the catch-all mia_material). Also, mixing those materials is very easy, as well.

So I’ll keep working on both. The piece of biscotti still hasn’t been touched beyond simple colors and a basic normal map. And I’m hoping to tweak the lighting and do a little compositing in the end just for some extra appeal.

Jul 132015

This is a two-part experiment I’m working on. Took a photo of my breakfast one day at Pour Coffee Parlor, and decided to recreate it as best as I could. The goal here is to compare Mental Ray to Cycles.

This here would be Mental Ray. I am nowhere near done: the biscotti piece is barely touched, the coffee still needs work, and the lighting can be played with some more.

However, I’m curious to see how this goes in Blender’s Cycles – both in terms of photorealism, and in terms of the time required to achieve the look. Cycles is a path tracer and Mental Ray is a ray tracer. In Cycles, rays shooting from the camera into the scene bounce off what they encounter, calculating indirect lighting. Mental Ray uses features like Final Gather and Global Illumination to take care of indirect lighting, as a ray tracer alone does not allow its rays to bounce and “mix light” – its rays go directly to the light sources after hitting the first obstacle in the scene.

Both are, of course, have been capable of photorealism for years. Otherwise, you know, I would not be embarking on this.

Yeah! Tomorrow I’ll bring the scene into Blender and start the second part. We’ll see how it turns out.