Surfaces 

 

Without the computer programs called surface shaders, Joy appears a flat grey. The shaders create the colors, patterns, and textures of Joy’s skin, hair, and clothing.

Appearance is controlled separately from shape

What is surface appearance?

A virtual 3D model is just a shape, the surface is how it appears. The way something looks is part of telling a story. You can tell Mater is an old car from his rusty brown surface and how his life is different from Lightning McQueen with his shiny red surface.

What does a surfacing artist do?

Surfacing artists construct each aspect of an object’s appearance using computer programs called shaders. They break down a complex appearance into specific elements. One shader may define Mater’s underlying brown color, another his rough texture, and yet another puts the gleam in his eyes. Some surfaces, such as clothing and fur, are created as simulations.

The left half of this frame from Cars 2 has basic color information while on the right side all the shaders have been applied.

The left half of this frame from Cars 2 has basic color information while on the right side all the shaders have been applied.

Videos and Activities

Pixar’s Surfaces Challenge

Computing believable surface textures

Pixar’s Surfaces Challenge

Colin Thompson

Shading Technical Director

Colin Thompson

Surface Appearance Workstation

Change the appearance of a virtual object

Edit appearance variables (color/pattern, bump map pattern and height, transparency, and reflectiveness) to design a virtual sphere on the counter of the kitchen in Ratatouille.

Resources

Pixar in a Box

Follow the link for a lesson on Patterns.

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