I've started building a procedure for systematically generating a Cycles material and it has evolved into a involved process; So, I wanted to query the community before putting too much effort into it.

My procedure involves taking two photos of a planar surface at two different angles using a flash (and no other external light) and derive a "hardness" value for each color band as well as a surface normal/bump map and a normalized image map. The procedure is entirely programmatic and I use Python/Numpy/SciPy and PIL to output the property values automatically given two image files.

Googling doesn't find me much but it might be that my Blender vocabulary is not advanced enough. I only just started using Blender but am fairly knowledgeable in the physics of radiant energy.

  • $\begingroup$ If you are using Blender internal, there are several values you can tweak, namely hardness, translucency etc. I would recommend looking at some example materials to get a feel of how this is done. You can try matrep.parastudios.de and blender-materials.com/materials. $\endgroup$
    – iKlsR
    Commented Oct 11, 2014 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ @iKlsR I want to emphasize that I am looking for an automatic/programmatic method with as little human "tweaking" as possible as I am looking for a way to capture many existing materials as realistically as I can. $\endgroup$
    – paul
    Commented Oct 11, 2014 at 20:03

2 Answers 2


CrazyBump comes very close. Just open a photograph and it'll make a pretty good guess at the bump/normal map as well as the specularity map and occlusion map. There is some manual tuning available, but the initial guess is quite good.


As far as I am aware a method for doing this doesn't exist for blender. ZBrush has a method for capturing materials from a photo called Matcap, it creates a material which includes material and lighting properties. It may of interest to you to see how it works here and here.

I think the main problem is the lighting one, the information you capture will be very dependant on the ambient and direct lighting of the material. I'm not sure how you are going to manage to separate the lighting and materiel information. I guess the other problem is you don't always have a planar surface to capture from.

It does sound like a useful and cool feature to have but I'm not sure how robust it will be and how much effort you will need to put into your photo capture setup to get good results.

I know many people use ZBrush's Matcap feature because you can capture material+lighting from any single image of any shape material quickly.

(This probably should have been a comment but I don't have enough reputation on blender.stackexchange to post comments)


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