How do I set up SSS shaders properly to render efficiently in animation projects. Are there any specific optimizations to consider?

I am trying to render some orange juice in a bottle and getting really long render times.I was wondering what I could do to optimize my shader and scene.

Here is a sample scene http://www.pasteall.org/blend/36594

  • $\begingroup$ SSS is a complex calculation that takes time, to speed up renders you will need to fake it. Search for blender fake sss $\endgroup$
    – sambler
    Jun 17, 2015 at 9:28
  • $\begingroup$ can you not lower the transmission bounces ? $\endgroup$
    – Yvain
    Aug 13, 2015 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ I lowered the transmission samples and lost the sss look on the liquid. In the end I just got the look I wanted and let it take its time on a small render farm at the office. $\endgroup$ Aug 26, 2015 at 5:34

1 Answer 1


TIP: You can adjust subsurfacing Strength to render faster.

Lower subsurface values === Faster Rendering.

This is most easily possible with the Principled BSDF shader introduced in Blender 2.79, which allows the use of subsurfacing in the same shader as the main material.

This is an example skin shader rendered with Principled BSDF with 100% subsurfacing: enter image description here

Here are a few more images adjusting the SSS value respectively: enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

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As you can see, adjusting the values off SSS amount produce a slightly lower SSS result, but give you around 10 seconds lead on each frame's render time.

This is obvious information, however, and you probably know this already.

Since you are using SSS to fake the look of orange juice, I decided to try and set up a material for it that would look about the same, but render faster without/with little SSS.

First I checked out this reference image: enter image description here

I decided to make a node setup that would allow the material to be changed in between multiple different materials that would "fake" the look of orange juice, and change render times. It allows for more SSS for more realism, while sacrificing time, and diffuse+glossy+transparent for less render time.

Here is the node setup:enter image description here

With SSS, this is about the type of material color we are going for:enter image description here

Here is the improved SSS render: enter image description here

This is a general SSS render:enter image description here

This is a volume absorption + glass shader render:enter image description here

This is a volume absorption + transparent render:enter image description here

As you can see, the material color changes drastically, but they all stay around the same general look. The render times change quite a bit too. I found that my improved SSS shader worked with the lowest render time.

One last tip: Use adaptive sampling:

This allows world backgrounds to render instantaneously, and most other materials to only render until the noise is low, reducing render times.

Note: This feature is in Blender 2.83+ currently.


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