Condensation shader for Vray


I’ve shown one technique for water droplets in the past by using Forest Pro. It’s a good method, but recently I had a chance to develop a different approach – this one is strictly shader-based. No fancy geometry scattering required.

We only need to create 2 maps for this shader – a normal map for the droplets and a mask for the foggy part of the condensation. The maps are closely related, so they are created in the same photoshop file.

To get started we need a height map of a droplet. Sure, you can mess around with gradient tool in photoshop to get something approximately like we need, but in my opinion the best way is to simply model a single droplet in 3ds max and render out it’s zdepth pass. This imho is the easiest way to get a perfect displacement/normal map.

Now the second step is creating the actual maps we will use for our shader. This is the longest and most difficult part of the process. It can be kind of fun though, it’s a chance to be creative.
In the next video I’ll show you how I approach this process in photoshop, I hope you’ll pick up some useful tricks :)
I rushed the process a bit for the tutorial, but you can take as long as you need to get the maps perfect and tileable.

Finally, we need to set up the actual Vray shader, it’s actually the easiest part of the process. Watch the video to see how to do it!

As you can see, there’s more than one way to skin the cat.

46 thoughts on “Condensation shader for Vray

  1. Amazing tutorial!!!

  2. Thank you sir. useful for me.
    god bless you.

  3. excellent tut., thanks for your valuaable efforts

  4. Kostas Anninos

    Nice tutorial! Also you can use an already made photoshop brush like that for example

  5. Thanks Austris!

  6. thank you Austris. i follow you and works. keep on it

  7. Thank you Austris!

    This is same usefull like always and great tips I’ll try keep in my mind with others… ;)


  8. And again another amazing and very informative post from you Austris.

  9. thnx Austris

  10. impressive tutorial!thanks alot..

  11. Genius and Artist together !!

    Thank you as always Austris :)

  12. It’s amazing how you use the resources simply and efficiently. Do you think one day you could make a tutorial about modeling a bathroom? a shower and those droplets on it and on the stainless steel. Would be the only tutorial that I do not see in your site.

  13. Thanks a lot Austris, Cheers!

  14. super thank’s

  15. Excellent example of a simpler but more natural looking condensation/water droplet look. Your tuts always have some well thought out solutions to common issues and challenges. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Как всегда очень круто ! Спасибо .

  17. Thank you very much. Viscorbel is really support for 3d artist, support for designers. I fully convinced my self that this is the best ” learning website” for 3d designers.

    Many thanks again.

  18. Merci beaucouuuuuuuuuuuuup :)

  19. Nice video!
    Thanks you so much!Austris

  20. Thanks Austris, youre always the BEST!

  21. Excellent Work ….. Good Luck ! :)

  22. Nice tut. Eerily similar to Bertrand Benoit’s tutorial on placing water drops on windows a few years ago.

    Not directed at you specifically, but I think the arch-viz 3D tuts/tips/tricks well is beginning to run dry…no offense. ;-)

    • Interesting, I’ve actually never seen that tut, so thanks for the link. It does seem a bit similar :)

      Perhaps the well is running dry indeed, or maybe you’ve just been around long enough to see everything there is to see.

  23. Really cool technique, thank you.
    Is this method good for high-res renders, such as 7000 pix?

  24. As always, very cool! Thank you.

  25. Thank you

  26. Excellent tutorial!
    I have a question though – why do you use 50% gray background when creating the normal map? You are actually loosing 1/2 of the possible bit depth. Wouldn’t be better to have a black background instead and utilize the whole 0-256 range?

    On the other hand:
    Have you tried this method on hires-close-up renders? Dou you think it is suitable? (of course, probably “diplace mod” should be used instead of normal map I suppose). Would the droplets be clean and detailed enough? (comparing to “scattering methods…)

    Thanks again and cheers!

    • Good question – I’m actually using the full range of the normal map in the direction I need – it works in both directions, so the medium grey pixels stay fixed, everthing that is darker gets bumped inwards and everything that is lighter bumped outwards. If I was using black background, the whole surface would have strong negative bump…

      I haven’t tried extreme closeups, but with hi-res maps it should be quite good. Though actual geometry might be preferrable.

  27. hi Austris,please make a button so we can download videos…thanks a lot)))

  28. Thank you very much,I Love Yooooooooooooooooou

  29. Great tutorial. ..thank you very much

  30. Nice work and thanks for sharing! You could have just reversed the layer order of the drops (i.e. largest above medium above smaller above smallest) instead of doing the select and delete for each layer. Gives more flexibility, etc.

    • Actually, that wouldn’t work, since the brush goes from solid white in the center to transparent around the edges – the smaller drops would still be visible through the large ones (only near edges, but still, the deleting is necessary).
      I’ve actually done it both ways before, it doesn’t matter too much.

  31. Great tutorial. Thanks Austris

  32. Great tutorial..Thanks a lot!

  33. oh,Thank Austris for sharing

  34. Your technic is amazing ! Thanks a lot

  35. You are the master! Thank you!

  36. Thank you for your tutorials, they are amazing ..
    I wonder if I can ask something.. in your renders I noticed that there is sometime high number of render boxes (region)during the render .. you talked about how to increase there sizes (render region = 64 ) but I want to know if I can control the number ??

    I need that .. thank you very much

    • Number of render buckets is determined by the number of threads you cpu has. So a 6 core i7 with hyperthreading (each core split in 2) would give 12 buckets.
      Other than upgrading to a cpu with more cores you can also add more computers and use network render to get more active buckets.

  37. Pablo Conca Bosch

    Great tutorial!!! Thanks for sharing Austris!!!

  38. Amazing tutorial :)

  39. Lovely work as always Austris – thanks for sharing. I’d never managed to get a normal map to work properly in Vray before so this tutorial was like gold-dust.
    Perhaps it’s worth noting that users who are more comfortable with Photoshop could also skip a stage in your process by simply creating a circle shape with a gradient (balanced carefully to capture the right falloff) to get the initial droplet. Having said this – I like the way you showed us how to obtain a height map from actual geometry too. Bang on!
    Cheers, Mike.

  40. Which version of Vray were you using for this technique? Assigning material ID’s and applying the same glass material to each side creates incorrect refraction results and the object behaves as if it was single sided.

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