Semi–Transparent Labels

Boxshot lets you create partial and semi–transparent labels by fine–tuning materials to provide a proper transparency. This tutorial covers the most common cases, so you can easily add a label by following it.

Let’s Get Started

First of all, we need a label. Let’s make a transparent version of the default pharma–bottle label:

Semi-transparent label that we'll be using for this tutorial

Right–click the image above and download it to your desktop, so you can use it if you want to follow the tutorial step by step.

Now start a new project, drop a pharma bottle into the scene, and assign the new label texture to the bottle. You may also want to add a plane with a checkerboard texture so you can see the refraction better.

Pharma bottle with a semi-transparent label applied without any further adjustment

Make sure the Replace glass with label box is not selected. If this option is selected, transparency will not work well.

So far we did everything right, but the label doesn’t look well, so what happens?

The Back Side of the Label

The problem is that the back side of the label is still opaque. So let’s assign the same texture there:

Assigning the same texture to the back side of the label

Almost perfect, but we still need to do one thing. As you can see, the front and back sides don’t match. You need to flip the back image using the Transformation presets button or by configuring UV offset and scale manually:

Flipping the backside of the label to match the front

Well done! It looks much better now.

Colored Glass

What if we need a label on the colored glass? Let’s drag an olive glass material onto the bottle:

Making the bottle glass green

It also works! In case of any issues with medium colors and thin semi–transparent objects (like labels) the first thing to check is the Refraction parameter of the Opacity section.

Make sure the refraction is disabled for thin objects if you have any problems with glass becoming too dark.

Refraction must be disabled for thin objects

This needs to be done for both sides of the thin object if the materials are different there.

Opaque Bottle

What if we need, say, a plastic bottle? Let’s drag a red plastic material from the left panel onto the bottle:

Red plastic bottle with a semi-transparent label

So far so good, but what if we want the bottle to be less reflective? Let’s set the roughness of the Body material to 50%:

Roughness of the bottle body increased

Did you notice the difference between the transparent areas of the label and the surface of the bottle? The label still reflects the environment, while the bottle doesn’t due to the roughness.

The reason is that the light first hits the label and even its transparent areas reflect light without any distortion (as the roughness of the label is zero), so we see the reflection of the scene in the label itself, regardless of its transparency.

That’s how Boxshot works, that’s how you make soap bubbles and glass bottles reflective, so that’s OK. This might also be OK for a particular label, but let’s make the transparent parts of the label fully transparent.

We need a reflection mask for the label in order to do that. The mask should be white where the label is not transparent, and black where it is. This way Boxshot will skip reflections for the transparent areas of the label.

Here’s such a mask. Right–click it to download a copy if you are following the tutorial.

Reflection mask for the semi-transparent label

Locate the Reflectance texture slot of the Label material and apply the image there. Then see the difference:

The transparent areas of the label do not reflect anymore

Here I also increased the reflection level of the label to 30% to make the reflection more obvious. You can clearly see that only the opaque elements of the label reflect the light.

Here we took some extra steps to show the process in details, but there is a short way to do the same in most cases. Boxshot can use the alpha channel of the main artwork as a mask, so let’s try that.

Unload the reflection mask from the Reflectance slot and keep the reflection level at 30%. You should get this:

A very reflective label

Now check that Alpha channel is a mask option above the Reflectance slot:

Using alpha channel of the main artwork as a reflection mask

As you may see, the result is the same. This option helps saving some time by avoid dealing with masks if the alpha channel of the main artwork is the same as the mask you are going to use.

Some Hints

You can use the same techniques for lathe objects, as well. Just make another lathe object for a label, make it double–sided, align it around the main object and then repeat the steps above.

Boxshot also has dedicated Label and Conical Label shapes if you need the simple label shapes.

For both methods it is a good idea to make the label a child object of the bottle by dragging the label onto the bottle in the scene tree and aligning them after. This way the label will also follow the bottle when you move it around, scale or rotate.

The same transparency trick can be used to make partial labels. If you need a small label on just one side of the bottle, all you need is to add some transparent filler around it, so the label can wrap the bottle, then add a mask to hide reflections.

Finally, you can make pleasing effects by using the reflection mask alone. Remove the label texture, set the Opacity slider to 0 to make the label transparent, then load a pattern as a reflection mask and set the Reflection Tint color to, say, yellow.

Making foil effect on top of the plastic material

Right, that’s a foil effect! Just make sure you adjusted both front and back sides of the label, as otherwise you might see the “shadow” of the old artwork. Also, do not forget to flip the reflection mask for the back side of the shape horizontally as you did for the label artwork above.

That’s All

You’ve learned how to make semi–transparent labels and fix the issues that may arise. Isn’t that great?

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