I know that Shader is a type of computer program that used for shading. And it looks like Material also define how model looks like. That means for me, that in Blender "Material" equal "Shader" (or not?) But if it so, why same thing named differently in different parts of interface:

enter image description here enter image description here

Is there a some inconsistency here, or this is a different things? Can I call it "Material nodes" and "Shader tab" or it will be wrong?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ A material can be made of different shaders. Sahders define what happens to a light ray when it reaches a surface. $\endgroup$
    – user1853
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ So, shader is BSDF? $\endgroup$
    – Crantisz
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 15:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ blender.stackexchange.com/questions/785/what-is-a-bsdf $\endgroup$
    – user1853
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ Can be a combination of different bsdf's as well. You can think of it as a description of the actual surface (or volume) when hit by any ray travelling through the scene @Crantisz $\endgroup$
    – brockmann
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 15:32
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ No they are not $\endgroup$
    – user1853
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 22:51

2 Answers 2


Answer from Brecht Van Lommel:

In Blender terminology material, light and world are datablocks that contain two things:

  • Shaders to describe the look.
  • Settings to control the quality.

Shaders can be mixed, grouped, and shared between datablocks.

The reason it’s not called the material editor is because you can also edit world, light and freestyle shaders there.

So materials define how object looks like, and have some additional material-specific settings. Shaders define object materials and also lights, world and freestyle as a part of each data-block.


tl;dr: Shaders are an essential part of any material, but they are not the same.

Materials define the optical properties of an object. They define the object's color(s), reflectance, transparency, translucency and emission.

They can consist of

  • Textures
  • Shaders
  • Halo
  • Ray-Tracing
  • $\begingroup$ Path(Ray)-Tracing is a technology shooting rays from the camera into the scene - definitely no part of the material itself, rather defining materials is part of path tracing :) $\endgroup$
    – brockmann
    Commented Mar 20, 2019 at 9:08
  • $\begingroup$ @brockmann - No. Blender is capable of two different types of raytracing. The part that provides transparency is a per-material setting. Without this setting you won't get any transparency. So it is in fact primarily part of the material. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 20, 2019 at 10:32
  • $\begingroup$ In case the shader has any kind of transparency assigned to it, the ray is allowed travelling further through the volume of the object, that's it. I'm not really sure what you mean by "per material setting" and "different types of ray tracing" because as far as I know Bidirectional path tracing isn't implemented yet right? Probably we are talking about different things, I don't know. $\endgroup$
    – brockmann
    Commented Mar 20, 2019 at 14:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .