Leather Material
By Neil Blevins
June 15th 2005

Here's a tutorial on how to create a leather material. My tests were done in 3dsmax, but the theory of how to put the material together works for all 3d apps, and I've included at the bottom a max and maya example file.

The basic ingredients are as follows:

Here are a few real photographs of leather. When making any material, having good reference is a must. That way you can first dissect the photo to decide what elements make up the material you're trying to replicate, and then you have something to compare your cg image to. These were found on the Google Image search.

Reference 1

Here's a black leather chair I grabbed from here.

Reference 2

Here's a leather pouch that I grabbed from here.

First off I made some simple geometry.

Figure 1

For the color, I just added a regular brown, but you could also use a bitmap if you wanted more variation to the color.

Figure 2

Next comes the highlight, Blinn with a wide base, but a medium height. Another possibility is to use a real reflection of a white card or the environment, but for this tut, we'll just use a regular highlight.

Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 4a

Now comes the bump, I chose a combination of a cellular texture and a fractal noise, then reduced the amount from 30 to 14, so the bump is more subtle. You could also scan a real leather texture and use that as a bump if you're so inclined. Another thing to try is adding some more noise, or a bitmap bump / displacement to replicate the wrinkles you get with leather, or model that in as geometry.

Here's a cellular texture, a noise, and then combining the two with a mix.

Figure 5Figure 6Figure 7

And here's the final result...

Figure 8

Here's the max file that made the image above, max5: leather_material_max.zip

Here's a maya file for a very similar scene and material, maya5: leather_material_maya.zip


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