How to Create Realistic Ice

Discover how to model, apply materials and light a realistic ice scene.

45 mins
Blender 2.6
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.6/5 (72 votes cast)

In this tutorial you will discover:

  • How to quickly add imperfections using displacements
  • An easy way to add air bubbles
  • A realistic ice material

I recently asked on Facebook what tutorial you wanted to see next, and since ‘Realistic Ice’ came in at a close second I figured a lot of you were keen to see it.

Ice generally renders better with unbiased rendering engines (like LuxRender or Cycles), due to it’s heavy reliance on refractions and reflections. But in this tutorial we’re going to try to use Blender’s rusty ‘ol internal render engine to create a decent result :P

Finished Result

Reference Photo

At a Glance

Screenshots from the video:


Further Inspiration

Congrats on making it to the end. Here, have a drink on me :P

How to Create Realistic Ice, 4.6 out of 5 based on 72 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 ;)
  • Varel

    Hellow Andrew
    am Created a lot of ice is give me a realistic Result
    and this is my Result

  • Александр Доманский

    How do it in blender 2.6x with Cycles ?

  • Yusuf Zaheed

    If your ice scene looks unsatisfactory after compositing, add a blur node and set the mode to Tent. and check Relative. This choose X and set the X and Y values to 0.4 to 0.8. This can do some patching up if the defous node doesn’t work well (if you don’t have enough ice in front. Great tutorial, Andrew.
    Nice ice.

  • Markus
  • TIM
  • reza

    thank you andrew

  • MaximFilms

    I created a little scene with fluid pouring into a glass and simultaneously ice cubes are falling in and interact with the fluid.

    Hope you like it, please comment on youtube!

    Thank you very much, MaximFilms

  • JonBerisha

    Hey I have the same problem as landon and I don’t know what to do, plz help.

  • landon

    Andrew, when i render the scene the results don’t look like they are in the compositer how can i fix this?
    Thanks, Landon :)

  • Man

    the ior of ice is 1.32

  • Ben

    hey andrew, will you please take a look at my version on youtube?
    i did a little pan and turned into a 5 second animation :) like you said, the black spots took a lot of tweaking to get the best results, i’m afraid mine doesn’t look a fraction as good as yours but i did my best…

    here the link:

  • pete

    need some troubleshooting……..i can’t sculpt. I turn sculpt mode on, but when hold down the LMB and drag over the model, nothing happens

    • xDevilzDummyx

      Did you apply multiresolution modifier before you scuplt? or maybe you can check the strength of the brush on left toolbar?

  • valdon

    how to create realistic crystals?
    i try to create a crystal advertisment for an aword serimony it dosen’t seams to look like what am looking for. please help if you can.

  • Anthony

    For some reason I can’t get the ‘bubbles’ to stop being black. I set the depth to 10 and even 10,000 yet alas nothing. Any suggestions?

  • dARWIN

    I have only been using blender for 2 days now… But i totally just made some super real looking ice! thanx man, that was awesome. Just one problem… For some reason i cannot export a picture file. I know i have it all set right to render the pic, i have been doin lil videos the past couple days and they will all save as Mpeg or whatever i make it… But for some reason this won’t save as a picture file. I made the camera fly around it as an animation just to see if it will render out a video… its in the process now… Any idea what is causing my problem?

  • jane

    Hi , nice tutorial :) … im trying to figure out how do you do de render preview ,, i cant figure that out

  • tommy

    icoshper wont be the same mitireal as cube sorry for bad english help meeeee useing blender 2.59

  • Hélène

    Amazing tutorial ! I have learn a lot of things here, fabulous
    “Maintenant je vais pouvoir me faire un petit whisky avec des glaçons sur Blender”
    Thank you Andrew

  • davy
  • Marek

    That’s my version:

    BTW, i have found something about “IOR”.
    This link can by pretty handy:

  • Xardas

    hahah yet again im amazed….thnx for this brilliant tutorial XD

  • Saika

    I’m on 2.59 and the alpha 0 part doesnt work…

  • Jeremy Deighan

    Here’s mine. Whatcha think?

    Jeremy Deighan

  • Owldude (formerly The Hammer)

    Instead of adding loop cuts a quicker way to do it would be to subdivide it and then set the cuts to 2. Also instead of doing that complicated applying stuff with the subsurf modifiers, you could just add a multires modifier and it would work with the sculpting. Besides that, very impressive! I personally plan to make an animation of a penguin swimming under an ice sheet (I like making polar oceans).

  • SellusionStar

    This Tutorial was so funny! I loved the part from ~41′ “uhwaah it’s the rapture!!” :D
    Beside this: the way you conceive your tutorials is amazing! Every tutorial is like a project and the audience has the chance to follow the same way.
    I used Blender for years, but there are so many little tipps n’tricks you’re showing which I didn’t know.

    sorry about my english.
    greetings from germany!
    Keep the good work up!

  • Leto85

    I was trying to play this video but find only a black screen where the video should be able to play. There was no play button or something similar.
    Is this video removed perhaps, or is it something else?
    A few days ago I was able to see the first part of this video though.

    • Leto85

      Never mind. I can see it now.

      @Blenderguru: How can I pan around in the 3D View while using a laptop, without a numpad function?

  • Amir Andikfar

    Excellent tutorial!
    My only little complain (or rather a suggestion!) would be that sometimes you select or add some stuff (specially when you are in compositor) a bit too fast, so for ppl that are not too familiar with the program a little bit hard to get what you’ve done. Other than that I enjoy every single tutorial from you and you make it quite fun watching them.
    Thanx a lot and I look forward to your next tutorials.


  • Robert Lindner

    In my opinion a way to improve DOF is to use two defocus nodes with a higher fStop value, for instance 25 and 100. the one with the higher value should come second and should be rather high, the first one should be just a little above the value you would use with only one node in this case 25 instead of 20. That way, the second one can get rid of all the artefacts, but it doesen´t make it´s own artefacts because it´s got a high value, and the first one can blur the image, it just has to be a little higher than the original one because the second node will of course blur the image again.
    Just thought I´d mention this, great tuturial!

  • @cteraKi

    Have you got any tutorials for metaballs? They look such powerful tools but as any other tool we can only use them as soon as we learn how.

  • blurdude

    I’m curious to know why you stated that you used Blender 2.6 when 2.6 alpha release isnt out yet? by the way, this tutorial is great. just what i needed for my next project.

  • FreeMind

    You are running blender 2.58, yet you wrote it’s 2.6 in the description. Why?

  • Massey

    I was wondering if you could do a camera shake tutorial. It’s an effect that seems to be very hard to produce, even with scripts.

  • obkcaptain

    Ok….I’ve discovered….
    moving the mouse wheel…but I’m using a tablet…
    Thanks and…Don’t forget the non english speakers. Please try to talk slow (or not as quick as you)

    • —————————

      you can hit the + or – , instead of the mouse wheel ;)

  • obkcaptain

    Thanks, again.
    Great tutorial . Probably a little bit long, but helpfull.
    Only a (stupid, I guess) question: How do you get Ctrl + R twice or more times at the same time?.
    I can`t do it.
    I’m running 2.58 and a Mac over OS Lion.
    Sorry for my (bad) english

    • blurdude

      hit CTRL+R and BEFORE u do anything else, immediately scroll. you should be able to get multiple loop cuts at the same time.

  • crackednoggin

    I wish you’d continue on the themed tutorials like architecture and weather. I REALLY like you kitchen tutorial