I'm fairly new to blender and I've finished the infamous donut tutorial so I guess I know my way around blender enough to say I'm not fresh-of-the-boat new...

I've given myself a new project/challenge... Though I'm not entirely sure which approach is the best.

My goal is to have a bowl of granola/muesli in similar layout as this image: enter image description here

I'd like the render to be able to stand up to close inspection, not necessary at a oat-flake level, but enough to frame a box of cereal/bowl and its contents...

I've created the bowl from another tut... and I've made one oat... and then the realisation of "I still dont know what I'm doing" hit me... do I make the oats into a particle system? how do I texture them, using an image or procedural?

enter image description here

I would love some help and guidance... How would you guys tackle this one?

Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated...

  • $\begingroup$ Image texture is going to be easier and more realistic. The particle system is really similar to the one of the donut. What did you try already and not working? $\endgroup$
    – Sanbaldo
    Commented Jun 6, 2021 at 6:50
  • $\begingroup$ Here's a texture you can use (you can shape the flake as a cube subdivided.. and painted using the texture with "stencil" method) freepik.com/premium-photo/… $\endgroup$
    – Sanbaldo
    Commented Jun 6, 2021 at 6:59
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Sanbaldo... thank you for your reply. I guess I'm new to a proper workflow... I've not had too much problem with modeling a variety of different oats now, all with slight variants in texture, the same for cashews and almonds. I guess I was hoping for a magic button for procedural textures, instead of me painstakingly do image textures. I always wanted to know if I should use the particle system in order for them to fall in the bowl for realistic placement, or should I do like the sprinkles weight map and use like a semi circle as the base? Thank you again for your help. $\endgroup$
    – Val Mocan
    Commented Jun 6, 2021 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ Particle system will drop them into the bowl, but the problem is they don’t interact with each other in that case. I wish they did. You could make a particle instance of rigid body oats, then make instances real, and then possibly use a python script to keyframe enable them one at a time so they don’t all explode away from each other. $\endgroup$
    – TheLabCat
    Commented Jun 6, 2021 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ PS: “my doughnut icing is flat,” “my doughnut sprinkles are all the same,” “my doughnut is square, pls help!” “My donut has too many calories and is weighing down my PC”… etc. 🙃😉 $\endgroup$
    – TheLabCat
    Commented Jun 6, 2021 at 18:36

1 Answer 1


Here's an example you can look at - All the textures seen are entirely procedural - no image textures were used (except for the table - I nabbed that from 3dtextures.me). And although some of the stuff looks a bit hammy upon closer inspection, most of it looks ok from a distance.

Bear in mind - this is in no way a final project - just something to provide an example of one way to go about something like this. Making it look great "up close" would likely require a few more rounds of "tinkering". Either way, it should give an example of how I would start to go about something like this.

Instead of simply using a particle system to "fill" the bowl with granola particles, as you were first thinking, I would suggest instead you use a combination of a Textured Base (the granola pile & milk), littered with actual cereal bits and seeds (created separately and instanced using geometry nodes), and topped off with some fully modeled and manually placed pieces (the berries).

Starting with the bowl, make a face around where you think the milk-line should be and then separate it into it's own object with P. This will be the basis for your milk/granola stack.


Inset the face so the inside circle is rather small, then add loop cuts to the surrounding section to give more geometry so we can make it "lumpy" in the next step:


Select certain sections on the mesh, turn on Proportional Editing (O) and raise some sections near the center. Change the size of the edit with the mousewheel. Do this a couple of times - picking different points each time and making the edit wheel slightly smaller - so there's a "big mounds with smaller lumps" kind of thing. Try to do a better job than I did at keeping the milk line flat-ish (I guess I was in a hurry).


For the texture for this section, I used 2 Principled BSDF's mixed with s Mix Shader, using a Gradient Texture, separated on the Z to act as a cutoff between the Granola Texture (Made with mostly Noise Textures) and the Milk Texture (basically shiny white with some subsurface scattering). I added a Displacement, which looks good at full strength in Cycles, but it causes it to clip through some of my geometry particles and I haven't been able to figure that out yet, so I left it at low strength.


Next I made some "seed and nut pieces". I made some shapes with simple geometry that will be "strewn about" the dish with Geometry Nodes later on.


I then gave them procedural textures to try and approximate what they're supposed to be (Pumpkin Seed, Wheat seed, Nut chunks).


To distribute them along the surface of the "granola mound", I used Geometry Nodes (A much better alternative to the particle system if you ask me). I used the nodes to distribute the seeds and nuts all over the surface, giving slight alterations to their respective scales and rotations. There is a way to use weight painting to "isolate" where the stuff gets spread around, but I think it looks fine "all over" here, with bits floating in the milk and stuck to the sides of the bowl a bit. Notice that I put the "nut chunks" into their own collection and then instanced the collection. You could do this for all the seeds if you want, but breaking it down like this gives better control over the distribution of the different kinds of seeds.


Next, I modeled some larger fruit pieces that I would manually place over the dish.


Here is the end result put together (works in both Cycles and EEVEE, with very minor differences).


Because it's such a large project, I didn't go in to too much detail about a lot of it. Instead, I'll post a copy of the .blend file here so you can get a better look at how it's all put together.

File is here -

EDIT - I had a bit more time, so I played around with the file a bit more. I fixed the "milk" level, used proper weight paint assignment for the Geometry Nodes (yes, the stuff that's still in the milk is there on purpose), and I added some more "muesli" bits such as almond pieces and coconut shavings. Although this looks like a final project, it is far from it - I didn't just "do it all" for you, this is meant to be a learning experience for all that wish to see, and indeed I found I learned a few things along the way as well. I certainly did not do the Geometry Nodes justice, as they can be arranged in such a way as they can switch between "pre-setups" on the fly. To get a better ideal of what I mean, take a look at this link where they employ the process when making a salad - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sj951PB6tXs&t=113s

Here's a pic of the updated file (in Cycles), and a copy of the updated project. Oh, I even threw in a Material I made to replicate the counter - it's yours for free if you want it.

New image: GoodGranola

New file:

  • $\begingroup$ Great content!!! Procedural texture are not really the easier way to go for a new user.. $\endgroup$
    – Sanbaldo
    Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 5:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Agreed. I thought I'd just showcase what's possible (along with some examples). Besides, the other route involves UV mapping or Bounding Box projection, which is also a lot to explain to a new user (though undoubtedly easier). Regardless, my procedural textures are by no means photoreal - they don't pass the super up-close test. If you want to see what I mean, flip over one of the strawberries. I was at it for far too long and still couldn't find something that didn't look god-awful. So, I did what any good artist would do and hid it by flipping them. Out of sight, out of mind ;) $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 6:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ So thats where you've been for the last 24 hours! Some of your friends must have been beginning to worry about you! :D $\endgroup$
    – Robin Betts
    Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 6:45
  • $\begingroup$ Wow, I have a LOT to learn... All of you guys are so helpful, its heart warming to see that this day and age.. Anyway, I've certainly appreciated all your work Christopher, Im going to download the file and study it... Im uploading my blender file, and while its nothing like your result, I was trying all the things mentioned. I was using geometry nodes instead of particles. Though I found that my oats were clipping together too much with my settings. Also, I found that my lighting is horrible, despite me using a HDR... my oats and nuts dont look great.. $\endgroup$
    – Val Mocan
    Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 6:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @RobinBetts Lol. Actually, I spent most of the time toying around with my new color scheme for 3.0 (new numbering system - feels like it deserves it). Oh, and I have a wife and a 2 year old- no friends to be concerned here :D $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 7:57

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