Learning new things every day!
So this week I’ve spent way too much time rendering tests, but I can’t help myself! The renders are looking better and better! Plus I’ve been realizing that the specular map needs its own logic, and I didn’t understand it till after rendering all these:
Originally I thought a specular map would just let the program know which textures would be “shinier”, which in my brain translated as brighter parts. So it made sense to make the panel lines black, the fuselage a clear gray and the brightest parts of the material, those ones that would be basically chrome, pure white. I spent many hours tweaking, adding layers upon layers of black and white parts. Then I added differences in gray to the panels, because panels are not all equal, and some things get added later to the plane during maintenance, so they would be “newer”, that means, shinier. Some other parts are old and dull and full of gross stuff, so they would be less shiny, darker.
But I wasn’t counting on this: Reflective materials like metal can reflect darker colours from the background too. So if something has a high reflectiveness (specular value closer to white) it will reflect more of the background than something non reflective (matte). That means it’s not necessarily going to be shinier by being more reflective. Sometimes it looks the other way around, which is what I concluded when I started making these renders.
The specular map had the layer I had made for the diffuse map with the dirt and dark stuff I’ve been layering around. My logic was that dirt wouldn’t reflect that much light as a clean surface, so putting this would make the material even more realistic. That makes sense on the surface, but it doesn’t make sense if you’re putting a light that reflects a darker background than the light material of my fuselage. If it’s too much of a difference, the result is a weird inverted feel, like shadows looking lighter than lighted surfaces.
The conclusion of these experiments is that panels should have a difference in specularity, but not a huge one, and if I’m adding dirt to the specular values, the difference in brightness should be very very subtle. I’m in the process of tweaking these things to make a few final renders, and then on to my most favourite part of making these textures!! The thing I’ve been eagerly awaiting for: labels and signs.