Plastic materials

Owlet comes with lots of plastic materials in its materials library, but it is always a good idea to know how to make one from scratch.

Let’s start with an empty scene, then add a sphere, then create a new material and assign it to the sphere. You should have something like this:

Default material on a sphere in Owlet

We are about to make an orange plastic in this example, so the first thing to do is to paint the ball orange. In order to do that, just change the reflection color of the layer to orange:

Making our diffuse sphere orange

So the ball is now orange enough, but real plastic materials reflect, so we need to make our sphere reflective. What do we do when we need reflection? We enable specular layer option.

Let’s do that, check the Specular layer option in the layer properties to do so:

Updating the fresnel layer with proper IOR value

That’s all, we’ve got our orange plastic sphere!

Extra effects

Let’s enhance our material with some extra effects. For instance we can make the reflection softer by increasing the Roughness value to, say, 20:

Making soft plastic by changing its roughness

Or we can load a texture to the Roughness slot to make sphere reflect more or less softly in different areas:

UV-spot effects done for plastic in Owlet

You see we loaded a checkers texture and also increased Roughness and N in order to make the reflection more visible. That’s how you do UV Spot effect in Owlet.

Colored reflections

Now let’s revert back to our plastic material and try to enhance it a different way. What if we change the Reflection color, say to red?

Enhancing reflection by making it red

This way you can make an extra accent on reflections. More, you can enable Reflection 90 parameter by setting Reflection 90 Level parameter to something above zero and then define the second reflection color to customize your plastic even more:

Making reflection even more complex by defining the second color

We had to increase the N value in order to make the reflection more visible in the middle, so now we have orange ball with red reflection in the middle and green reflection at the edges. This way you can make your plastic have slightly different colors here or there for perfect visualisation of the material you need.

Transparency

We can also make our plastic transparent, but the sphere is not a perfect shape for that, so let’s load our Owlet shape instead (or any other one with thin walls):

Orange plastic owlet shape in Owlet

In order to make it transparent we need all the layers to pass the light through and make sure the medium is translucent, as well. Let’s start with layers. The specular part of the layer is already passing the light down to the diffuse part where it is blocked.

If you don’t need a really transparent plastic, just the one that passes light through, you can try the Opacity option of the diffuse parameters block, by setting it to a below 100 value:

Using diffuse opacity to make translucent plastic

But as the diffuse opacity effects works pretty much like subsurface scattering effect for layers, you can’t see the floor behind the shape. It is still a nice effect, for something else, but not for partially-transparent plastic.

The solution is to use Mask parameter to cut some of the light from passing through the diffuse layer and send it directly into the medium:

Using mask parameter to make diffuse layer semi-transparent

This way you can see through the object. The only thing you need to make is to switch the medium type to the manual mode and set the index of refraction to 1.5 to match the specular parameters of the layer:

Making proper medium for plastic by chainging its index of refraction

As you may see, the plastic is now translucent and also refracts the checkers floor behind.

Another way to make transparent plastic

There is also another way to make plastic transparent. You don’t need the diffuse layer block, instead you can make the base color by using medium absorption. Let’s turn our diffuse block off and see what happens:

Plastic material without diffuse layer

The material is now transparent, so let’s adjust its Absorption and Attenuation parameters to make it orange again:

Making semi-transparent plastic by using its medium color

This way it looks more like glasss, but as plastics are different - you can use any of the methods above or combine some of them to make exactly the material you need.