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Procedural shader for watered silk in Carrara 6.1

Author: Indigone

Tools Needed

  • Carrara 6.1


If you haven't used the shader room in Carrara yet to really dig into the strength of the shader trees, this is your chance to learn. Procedural shaders are easy to create and make rich, realistic shading quick and easy. The picture you see here is a render of Victoria 4 wearing the Vandra skirt and V4 Ranger top with the watered silk shader. Next to her is a picture from Wikipedia's page on watered silk which I used as the model for the shader.


Step 1 - Create the basic shader

  1. In Carrara, click Edit –> New master shader
  2. Use an Anisotropic model for the top later. This disperses light nicely over the silk.
  3. In the shader branch, select multi channel, and set the channels of the shader.
  4. Color will be covered in step 2
  5. The highlight color is a gray. This makes the silk not glare in your eyes with shininess, but is shiny enough.
  6. Shininess will be covered in step 3
  7. Bump is covered in step 4, but with the top shader selected, set the bump amplitude to 15%.
  8. Transparency is covered in step 5
  9. The rest of the channels I left at the default.


Step 2 - Set the color

Using multiple color layers give the silk a realistic depth. In this case, I used an overlay of the basic color overtop of a mixer of two colors mixed with noise.


Step 3 - Set the shininess

From Wikipedia: Watered silk is a type of silk fabric which has been passed through a set of rollers as a fabric finishing process, to give the surface a moiré pattern which looks like a water surface.

To give it that moiré pattern in Carrara, I used a pattern in shininess channels. The lumberyard pattern in Carrara, with the right dial settings, is very close to an actual moiré pattern.

The persistence and perturbation settings give the lumberyard a nice swirl. The grain edge, threshhold and blend settings soften the look.

To be able to set the shininess with a value, use a multiply operator in the shininess channel.


Step 4 - Set the bump

I wasn't happy with how smooth the cloth was rendering so I set a noise bump to rough it up a bit. The bump amplitude that was set in the first step of 15% is barely enough to notice, but took the hard sheen off the fabric.


Step 5 - Set the transparency

The picture from Wikipedia appeared as though the silk was thin and slightly transparent. Using a transparency of 15% softened the fabric in the render and made it look more realistic.


Step 6 - Set the displacement

The picture from Wikipedia made the silk look as though it had natural wrinkles running through it. Especially where the fabric was loose from the body. In order to achieve this in Carrara, I used the displacement channel.

Set the scale to 1.00 in the top channel, smoothing angle of 35% and enable the subdivision, with extra adaptive steps set at 1.

Use a fractal noise pattern in the displacement channel. I turned the dials so that it looked like cracked mud and then softenend it a bit.

The settings are: Select the fifth fractal noise pattern (the one on the right), brightness at 0.06, contrast at 16%, pattern at 1.90, density at 93.95, and selected invert (so that the tiny wrinkles would go in, not out)

A note about displacement and transparency:

If you are using watered silk on something that has it stretched tight across, such as tight clothes or upholstery, you may want to turn these off to mimic the stretch.


Step 7 - Enjoy and play with the colors!

Watered silk looks pretty in nearly any shade, from subtle to bold.

I hope that you have learned something nice from this tutorial.

Happy rendering!