Materials Study – Crystals/Gemstones – Strawberry Quartz

As I mentioned on my Patreon, as part of my materials studies in Substance Designer and Blender, I really want to work on crystals and gemstones. I’ve been collecting quite a few reference images on this Pinterest board over the last few months, and have decided that the first one I’m going after is the strawberry quartz.

I have a few ideas for how to best do this. I’m initially working in Substance3D to create the surface material, but I’m also planning to use a volumetric shader combined with the surface shader in Blender to create an effect that looks more like the quartz. Those red veins are not just on the surface!

So, for my first iterations of both surface materials and volumetric shaders, I have the following first six WIP attempts:

#1 was just the first run at the surface shader. It’s a little too busy, and both the quartz and the veins are running a little too much toward pink.

#2 added a multidirectional blur to calm down the veining a bit.

#3 added the roughness and metallic channels to the texture and drove the veins more toward red.

#4 was a touchup to all of the channels, but the UVs on the model were also not right on two sides (visible on the left side in the image). It also added the initial volumetric pass inside the crystal.

#5 minor touchups.

#6 fixed UVs, fixed up some coloring and the density of the volumetric pass.

So, during these steps, widescale changes were made in Substance to the material textures themselves. In Blender, after getting Cycles setup the way I wanted, I made some minor detail changes to both the volumetric and surface shaders. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but not bad for a little bit of time in the morning.

FWIW, the blue cube in the background of the renders is there simply to verify the level of transparency. I’ll probably change the setup some so that there’s a white/50%/black background with some frosted lighting coming in from underneath and slightly to the front. The surface itself looks pretty decent, though I’m sure there will be some fine-tuning. The major changes I think still need to be made are in the volumetric shader aspect.

Playing with ray-tracing, Pt. 1

Back to working on Labyrintheer. But it’s Unity 2020, and I’ve been interested in playing with ray-tracing (RTX), so I started a new project, brought in some old assets and started toying with it.

The first entry is the trusty Gel Cube (from InfinityPBR) with RTX materials applied. This one is only lit by the internal point light that dies off when it dies. This is both of the attack animations and the death animation without scene lighting:

The next is with scene lighting. This is where RTX really shines with colored shadows cast through the transparent material of the GelCube:

The video quality isn’t as good as I’d hoped – need to work on that a bit.

Really, working with RTX in Unity’s HDRP isn’t terribly difficult, but there are a variety of gotchas that make it a bit of a headache, and materials are set up significantly differently (as are lights and scene volumes and…) That said, I plan to work on a few creatures first, just to get a feel for it all, then move on to bringing in the dungeons under RTX. Should be fun!