Create Realistic Materials with Cycles

Discover how to create rusted metal, shoe prints, dirty glass and more in this advanced tutorial for texturing enthusiasts.

53 minutes
Blender 2.63
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.6/5 (230 votes cast)

In this tutorial you will discover how to create:

  • A rusted material
  • Worn wood with foot prints
  • Dirty glass
  • Alpha masked trees
  • Lens flare

(scroll down for the material node setups)

Cycles has been around for a while now, and while shiny perfect floors are fun, it’s important to challenge yourself with more ‘interesting’ materials from time to time.

You won’t find any modelling or lighting in this tutorial, just materials. So you can either start with your own scene, or download the starter scene below.

Final Result

Discover how to create these materials

Discover how to create these materials


Download the Starter File

Node Setups

To save time, here’s the complete material node setup screenshots…

Rusted Material

Complete node setup for Rusted Metal in Cycles

Node setup for the rusted metal material

Wooden Floor Material

Node setup for a wooden floor material

Node setup for a wooden floor material

Dirty Glass

Node setup for a dirty glass material

Node setup for a dirty glass material

 Alpha Masked Trees

Node setup for alpha masked material in Cycles

Node setup for alpha masked material in Cycles

 Wooden Post

The most difficult material I've ever made

The most difficult material I've ever made

Compositing Setup

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Now go forth and create some realistic cycles materials ;)

Create something cool? Post it in the comments below!

Create Realistic Materials with Cycles, 4.6 out of 5 based on 230 ratings

About Andrew Price

User of Blender for 9+ years. I've written tutorials for 3d World Magazine and spoken at three Blender conferences. My goal is to help artists get employed in the industry by making training accessible and easy to understand. I'm an Aussie and I live in South Korea ;)
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  • shachar harshuv

    Thanks, I have learned a lot.

  • Carlos de Arquer

    So let me guess… Any DCFC fan around here? ;-)

  • blenderjunky

    I know it’s not the image that you were creating in the tutorial but I used the same techniques to texture this aged set of opera glasses. You’re tutorials are by far the most informative and easy to follow. As a reasonably new user I have gained most my experience with blender though your tutorials. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

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  • Maarten Peels

    Here’s mine, rendered at 800 samples, with a bit of a shining to it.

  • Kishon Diaz

    Fast Nav andrew your the best it turns your mesh into a box or wired mode when moving it you can also control the subdivision without destroying your mesh

  • ishak dz

    This design was designed by the program Blender blender d

  • El Ser Humano

    Andrew… you are amazing, thanks for every video you posted

  • john patrick palomar

    Thanks andrew! God Bless! :)

  • Patrick

    Thanks Andrew!! God Bless you :)

  • MHo173

    Based on this idea I made a short animation. Models made by myself.

  • Ian Clegg

    Andrew, I’m unable to view your videos in Internet Explorer on Windows 8. What type of player do you need? What type of media are they? IE isn’t asking to download a plugin, but I wonder if I needed one?

  • Petar Georgiev

    I’ve made my interpretation- don’t look at the flames- i made them more realistic at the full resolution image but it is too big to be uploaded here… :D

  • Khalizan Eka Yusdifa

    thanks a lot Andrew Price…

  • Carlos

    Thanks a lot for this enjoyable tutorial. Here is my result

  • Gallifuoco

    my first 3d model thanks…

  • AndresMedinaVanegas

    Ok, i just go through the tutorial, but I’m getting the boots and the floor (not the planks) in a purple color…..I don’t know why. Everything looks great but the boots and the floor.

    • Tyler

      Hi there. Did you ever figure this out? I’m having the same problem. I was hoping you’d gotten a response but it doesn’t seem like it on here. I worked hard on this and it’s kinda of disappointing now that it looks like Barney puked everywhere. :/

      • AndresMedinaVanegas

        No, never it as impossible for me to get the proper texture, so I just replaced the old texture with a new one and it worked. I yhink it was a problem with the image.

        • Tyler

          I suppose I’ll try that. My lantern has turned purple also so.. I guess I gotta redo it. XD. Oh what fun it is :D.. Not really.

          • Donnie

            Hello there guys, if you have not figured this out yet, then I would check to make sure that your images are rendering in Blender by re-opening them in the node editor. Blender renders textures as a purple-ish magenta color whenever it cannot find the image texture that you are trying to use.

          • Tyler

            I believe that was the problem. The pictures didn’t open to the correct folder. I didn’t know how to fix this so I just deleted everything and started over. It works fine now. Thanks! :)

          • AndresMedinaVanegas

            I’ts nice to see the problem solved, thanks guys.

  • AndresMedinaVanegas

    Ok, i just go through the tutorial, but I’m getting the boots and the floor (not the planks) in a purple color…..I don’t know why. Everything looks great but the boots and the floor.

  • AndresMedinaVanegas

    Ok, i just go through the tutorial, but I’m getting the boots and the floor (not the planks) in a purple color…..I don’t know why. Everything looks great but the boots and the floor.

  • zak

    Andrew, I think that making your own texture repository for us to use would be equally useful to us as tutorials. The hardest thing in making any scene, way harder than modelling or finding the inspiration, is getting hold of proper textures. Thanks :)

    • Voxters

      Well, there is a Reason why Textures cost Money. Also buyed ones are not free for commercial use.

  • Jesus Pereira

    Hi, love your tutorials. Youe are an inspiration to me wanting to become a really great artist. Love the inspiration section of your site. Question, how do you get the tiled textures? Do you create them in GIMP or Photshop? do you get them from a free resource? Which is it? Oh yeah, please keep coming with the awesome tutorials and CGI work!

    • Jesus Pereira

      Disregard I didn’t watch before I asked.

  • aj

    fantastic tutorial and extremely helpfull!!
    – not sure if anyone has mentioned this but why is it when i add a plane above the lantern ( after i finished the tutorial ) and put an emission to it that the light acts completly different. Am i dong something wrong with it or do i need to change specific setting in the nodes?!?! thanks if anyone anwsers :)

  • Lars Madsen

    Another great tutorial. It really shows how attention to little details add up to a lot of realism in the final render – great job.

    Now – I have a question a little bit out of context maybe. Does anyone know if there is a shortcut to automatically connect a node output. I think I have seen Andrew do that a couple of times and at about 49:34 in this tutorial it seems that the output of the glare node automatically connects …. or maybe he just moves the mouse so quickly that I miss it :-o


    • Lars Madsen

      Ah – got it!

      Ctrl. + Shift + left click automatically adds a viewer note in the compositor – nice :-)

  • Enrico Voltan

    Hi, I tried to texture (with cycles) a scene from my self but i had a problem with UV maps.

    When i click Unwrap it appears the message:
    “Object scale is not 1.0. Unwrap will operate on a non-scaled version of the mesh.”
    The problem i found is that i can’t adjust the size of my texture on the model and that normal maps don’t work.
    how can i adjust the size??

    • Julian_eisel

      you need to apply the scale (in object mode – press Ctrl+A and select Scale

  • Dany

    Thank you for the tutorial, it was very nice, as all your tuts are.

    I’ve got something like this:

  • Trent

    Great Tutorial. I have used what I learned from this one and applied it to a new project. But when I render the model, all of the parts appear black. But when I leave the render port open, the texture is visible. Also, if I change the color of a texture using a ColorRamp, the color isn’t visible in the render port. What am I doing wrong? Am I missing something? A node, a certain setting? Please help.

  • Mike

    Hands down the best Cycles node based material tutorial there is right now. Thanks for this. I finally understand some of the nodes I was having trouble with.

  • BlenderCyclesRender

    Hello AP Thanx a lot for great tuts!!!

    I want to ask you one thing, Could you make a tutorial on SSS effect in Cycles, cs right now im using SSS imitation with creating the actual “bone” structure within the skin, its really good when im making wax material, something like Candle, but when it comes to Human body it takes too long time doing the same thing, so if you are aware of some other method pls make a TUT on it.