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enter image description here

I'm working on a visualisation of a black and a white object. Everything looks fine when the product is black. But the closer I come to white the more flat the product appears and the reflections seem to disappear.

I could increase the specular- or metallic-value for the white object to bring back the reflections but that doesn't make sense because it's not a different material compared to the black object. It's just an other color.

Or I could render out a glossy-pass and compose it over my original rendering but this deserves extra work especially with more renderings.

Also I could create another HDRI with increased lights for the white object. But this is extra work again and makes it impossible to have both objects in the scene when they only look good with one certain HDRI.

What I aim for is a consistent look for the black and the white object where I only have to change the color and no other value of the material. I don't understand why it's not working as expected.

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  • $\begingroup$ White on white... How are the reflections to be whiter? The look of shiny objects depends on the environment. Make the lights brighter and the main surface darker. In the real world there are just a few materials that reflect more than 80% of the light. So make the base color 0.8 or less and bring down the value for roughness on the shader. Also create some dark areas in the reflected environment so that there is some contrast in the reflections as well. Read: project52pros.com/2014pros/… $\endgroup$
    – user1853
    Jan 7, 2020 at 22:01
  • $\begingroup$ Read: blender.stackexchange.com/questions/182/… and blender.stackexchange.com/questions/48659/… $\endgroup$
    – user1853
    Jan 7, 2020 at 22:02
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the helpful links and explanations. I have the real objects in front of me. I can indeed shoot a photo and see the reflections of both objects in a well-balanced way. Because they share the same environment and material, just the color is different. i.imgur.com/EP8QNWa.jpg As you can see, the reflection of the white object is still visible and not as flat as my digital recreation. But if you say that fiddling the materials eventhough it's just another color is normal, than I have to deal with it. $\endgroup$
    – Gri
    Jan 9, 2020 at 14:53
  • $\begingroup$ It's quite easy to do. Read the links again. All you need are some well placed lights and some dark areas to be reflected. $\endgroup$
    – user1853
    Jan 13, 2020 at 0:16

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White non-metallic surfaces have less shiny reflectivity than black ones of the same smoothness, because white surfaces disperse more light (in multiple directions). Combined with that is the optical illusion that light on a dark object is more visible to the eye than light on a light object. If you already have a white object and you try to make it more white, it's not going to increase as much in visual brightness.

This is how it works in the real world as it works in blender. To force this look with the material you want you can do two things:

  1. You can make the material more metallic by increasing the metallic slider. As you can see that your expected material looks more like aluminium than plastic.
  2. You can increase the specular slider to increase the amount of reflection directly. This slider is there for artistic use like what you seem to be trying.

If you are not at all happy with the workings of the principled shader you can make your own node system by mixing the glossy shader with the diffuse shader and using fresnel (in case of a non metallic object)

Another solution for you might also to increase the contrast of the HDRI by using a gamma node which should make the reflections appear brighter, or use color management to increase the overall gamma of the image.

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  • $\begingroup$ Albedo (or reflectance) is expressed in blender as the Base color. There are no objects in the real world that are pure white and reflecet 100% (1.0) difuse light. A realistic number is around 0.8. Keeping realistic albedo values is quite important in the quest for "realism" $\endgroup$
    – user1853
    Jan 7, 2020 at 22:07

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