Gold Material
By Neil Blevins
Created On: Oct 17th 2007
Updated On: Dec 9th 2013

Here's a tutorial on how to create a gold material in a number of different ways for 3dsmax, although the theory will work for any 3d app or renderer.

I highly recommend reading my Reflections And Highlights tutorial first, as it will discuss what a diffuse reflection is, a specular reflection is, how a specular reflection and a "reflection" relate to each other, etc. Also, before reading this page, you must read my Chrome Material lesson. Gold is really chrome with gold colored reflections, so this page will only contain the info necessary to turn the chrome materials on that page into gold.

Gold 1Gold 2Gold 3

Polished Raytraced Gold

The basic ingredients are as follows:

Now that we have the theory, lets show how to create the effect in 3d using a number of different 3d apps and renderers.


3dsmax's Raytrace Material in Scanline Renderer

Here's an example file to make a scene like the image above using 3dsmax's Scanline Renderer: polished_raytraced_gold_scanline.zip (Requires 3dsmax 8 or later, Scanline Renderer)

The material is a Raytrace Material. Set the diffuse to Black. Add a falloff map to the reflect slot, set to fresnel, check the Override Material IOR checkbox, give it an IOR of 20. Set the colors in the falloff map to RGB 185, 148, 69. Turn off specular highlight if you want to use real raytraced reflections only and not light the scene with specular lights.

If you do want specular highlights, make sure to tint them the same gold color (remember, specular highlights are really faked reflections, so both the reflections and highlight should have the same color).

Remember, half of what makes a material look like a particular material is the environment it's in. A wise man said reflections only look as good as the environment the object is reflecting, keep that in mind. For this scene, I have a a smooth gradient from white (low) to black (high). I also have a few self illuminated white cards near the camera to appear in reflections. These cards have an output map in the diffuse slot, and a higher then 1 RGB level, which blows out the cards to values above white, making them appear brighter in reflections.

3dsmax's Brazil Advanced Material in Brazil Rio Renderer


Here's an example file to make a scene like the image above using 3dsmax's Brazil Renderer: polished_raytraced_gold_brazil.zip (Requires 3dsmax 5 or later, Brazil Rio)

The first material in the file is a Brazil Advanced Material. This is an identical setup to the Raytrace Material above.

The second uses the Brazil Chrome Material. These materials are quite similar. The Chrome Material automatically has no diffuse, turn the reflections on, note that there's no IOR control, this material will be 100% reflective. While an IOR of 20 is ALMOST perfectly reflective, it's not completely, and so you'll notice a little of the black diffuse color peaking through on the Brazil Advanced Material. This material has none of that. Set the Filter Color to RGB 185, 148, 69. Turn off specular highlight if you want to use real raytraced reflections only and not light the scene with specular lights. Note: the advantage of using the chrome material is that it's more optimized than the Advanced material (since it's been specifically written only for chrome), so it'll render faster. The disadvantage is that if you want to add a little diffuse back to your material, you can't, hence I would generally recommend using the Advanced Material since it's more flexible, but the choice is yours.

3dsmax's VrayMtl Material in Vray Renderer

Here's an example file to make a scene like the image above using 3dsmax's Vray Renderer: polished_raytraced_gold_vray.zip (Requires 3dsmax 2014 or later, vray 2.4, ColorCorrect)

This uses a VrayMtl Material, the diffuse is black, the reflect color has our gold color in it (note, the gold color is wrapped in a ColorCorrect map to set the gamma correctly, since this scene uses Linear Workflow). Fresnel Reflections on, Fresnel IOR is set to 20.

Otherwise, the file is identical to the other two examples.

Polished Environment Mapped / Polished Environment Mapped and Raytraced Gold

Again, in the Chrome Material lesson I also mention these two other types of Chrome. To make the same material, but have them be gold, just follow the Chrome instructions, and replace the reflect color for gold like I do in this tutorial.

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