I have been using blender for some time now and I still can't wrap my head around 4 things, Shaders, Textures, and Materials. What I've understood from researching the internet about them that textures are like a skin that you put around your object or mesh and that there are different types of textures (skins) which are called maps. I don't know what the hell are shaders, I've read so much about them trying to understand and I still can't. Materials are all the texture maps combined together to give the unique look of the material.

Can someone please just tell me if I'm right with my understanding or correct me if I'm wrong and just give me extra helpful information, thanks


A Shader, or BSDF (Bidirectional Scattering Distribution Function), is the math definition for calculating light bounce. Different shaders such as Diffuse and Glossy have different definitions.

Materials are datablocks that can be applied to meshes. Think of it as a real material in the world (like wood).

Textures are images that mostly add photorealism to your mesh. The most common texture maps are

  • Color or Albedo: The color of the material.
  • Reflection or Specular: How much light the material reflects.
  • Glossy or Roughness: How concentrated or diffuse the reflection is (like a mirror vs brick).
  • Bump or Displacement: A grayscale map used to make the material go up and down with lighter pixels representing higher areas and darker pixels representing lower areas.
  • Normal: A purple-blue map that defines the direction of displacement.
  • Ambient Occlusion: This makes lower areas darker.

There are a lot more maps, and you can find definitions about them by googling.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ what's diffuse? Just stumbled across it in a texture. $\endgroup$
    – liaiwen
    May 28 '20 at 23:07
  • $\begingroup$ Diffuse and Color maps are the same. They are the result after a plain photograph of a real surface. Albedo maps are diffuse maps with the shadow removed, which generally produces more accurate results. $\endgroup$
    – user94339
    May 28 '20 at 23:18

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