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How to make Gold in Blender


Did you know if you put the right ingredients into a blender and set it to just the right setting, you can make gold? No? Good. It's nice to know my readers aren't morons. As you may have guessed this is all about making gold in Blender 3D.  With just the right settings and a little practice, you can very easily make a beautiful gold object inside Blender 3d!

Let's dive right in and find out how.

Blender 3d Logo

Blender 3d Logo

What is Blender 3d?

Before we get into the technical stuff, some of you may be wondering what the heck Blender 3d actually is. Well, Blender is just like the expensive software used by visual effects artists in hollywood and gaming the world over. The only difference, and this is huge so I hope you are sitting down, is Blender 3d is 100% free!

Open source software is nothing new, but programs like Blender are setting the standard of just how helpful and functional free can be. Free stuff is no longer useless. In fact, Blender is absolutely amazing, as I am sure you are about to find out as you follow this short tutorial.

All Right, let's jump in and make some Gold!

Example of what we will be creating

Example of what we will be creating


Step One: The Model

This article is focused only on the creation of a gold material and NOT the object you apply it to. So I am not going to go through a step by step on how to create your object. That is up for you to do. However, I should mention that this material will work with just about anything you apply it to... just take a look at the images to the right to see what I mean. 

If you don't already have a model created, use the default "Monkey" mesh.

In Blender 2.49 and earlier: Press SPACEBAR, then select MESH-->MONKEY from the menu. Now just rotate it into place, press CTRL+2 to add a subsurf modifier. One last thing. Press W then select SMOOTH from the list. All Done, ready for texturing.

In Blender 2.5 and up: The only real difference here is the spacebar. To access the mesh menu, press SHFT A instead. Alternately, you can still press SPACEBAR then in the search box that pops up, type MONKEY,

Step Two: The Environment

A model is only as good as the environment it resides in. While the material and texture settings are the more involved part of this training, we can not ignore the world around it.

First off, you are going to want something for your object to sit on. Whether this is a seamless backdrop, or an ornate pillar, you are going to have to model that first. Again, this is not a modeling tutorial, I leave that part up to you.

LIGHTING: This is EXTREMELY important. Without light there is nothing. Gold is shiny and reflective (for the most part) So we are going to need a good lighting set up for this, otherwise... we have blackness. Duh.

Three Point lighting using SPOT lamps

Three Point lighting using SPOT lamps

Three Point lighting using AREA lamps

Three Point lighting using AREA lamps

There are a variety of schools of thought on lighting. We are going to set up a very simple lighting setup for our scene here, but encourage you to hit up google and do a little research on studio lighting techniques. Real world lighting theory will be invaluable in your education and advancement in Blender. It's well worth the time and effort, I promise you.

Scroll to Continue

As you can see from the screen captures to the right, there are a couple different ways to set up a simple three point lighting rig in Blender. The first image uses SPOT LAMPS. Simple enough  to create. Simply create a spot lamp and position it just behind and to the right of your camera. Make sure to rotate the beam so that it faces the object. Then duplicate that lamp, place on to the left of the object and one behind and slightly off to the side. There are many more settings you can play with here, but this is the basic.

The second image shows a lighting set up using AREA LAMPS. This is another common, and simple, setup. All I did was create an AREA LAMP, then in the LAMP SETTINGS TAB I changed the type from square to rectangle. Then I positioned one lamp directly above my object, then one directly to the right and finally added one directly to the left.

Remember, the distance the area light is from the object will affect the amount of light it casts on the scene, so if your image is too bright, instead of adjusting the energy of each light, consider moving them further away from the object.

Gold Diffuse Color

Gold Diffuse Color


Okay, so you have your model, set it on a backdrop and applied lighting. Now comes the real focus of this tutorial: Making Gold out of nothing!

The first thing we are going to need to do is assign a material. So highlight your object, go to the materials tab, and click NEW. Label this "Gold"

Color is the most important thing here. Without the right color, our gold won't look like Gold at all. The image to the right will show you the color settings I used for the DIFFUSE color. Set R: 0.780, G: 0.520, B: 0.130. Change the type to Oren Nayer and you're all set with the diffuse color.

Next up, Reflections! Shiny gold is nothing without some reflections! Scroll down your material settings panel till you see an option labeled MIRROR. Click the check box to turn it on. There are only two settings to worry about here: Reflectivity, and the Reflection Color. First, turn the reflectivity up to a fairly high setting. We want this Gold to really shine! Next, click on the color and enter these settings: R:1.0, G: 0.670, B: 0.170. All set! The material is ready. Now for a quick texture job. On to the next step.

Texture Panel

Texture Panel

Step Four: HDRI Texture

What the heck is HDRI and why should I care? Well, allow me to answer the second question first. You should care because HDRI images is what we use to achieve these really cool reflections. Just turning on the Mirror tab isn't enough. That will make the object reflect other objects in the scene... the floor for example, but that's it. We want to give it some real world reflections. That's where HDRI comes in.

HDRI stands for High Dynamic Range Images. Do a quick google search for "Free HDRI images" and you will find PLENTY of resources. Search around, find one you like, and download it.

Next, click on your Texture Tab and add a new texture. Change the texture type to "Image or Movie" Then click OPEN. Select the HDRI image you just downloaded.

Scroll down your texture settings. The first thing you want to change is the MAPPING. This is where you tell Blender how you want the texture applied. Change the coordinates to REFLECTION and the Projection to either SPHERE or TUBE (your choice).

One last setting to change. Scroll down to INFLUENCE. Uncheck "color" and check "Mirror". Now turn down the mirror setting to somewhere in the 0.3 range.

Hit Render

That's it! You're done! hit F12, wait a few minutes for the render and your all done! However, I do encourage you to play around with the settings. That will help you learn more about how each setting effects the final render. Lastly, if you are one of those people who learn by watching, not reading, here is a video tutorial covering this process. Actually worth a watch as I cover a couple other little tricks and tid bits.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this and learned something. Now get out there and make some Gold... just don't try it with the Blender in your kitchen. Ha!


Karl on May 21, 2011:

Nice tutorial but you have to watch the video, there's a lot of settings for the material and world that aren't explained in the text. Also I think the choice of HDRI map is very important, the ones I'm using aren't producing quite as good a result. Would be nice if there was a link to the images used in the tutorial.

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