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How to achieve dusty looking on a surface, making a particle system was my first opinion but then I changed my mind!

It would've cost too much and now I'm stuck.

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There are a couple ways of doing this. Here's one way in cycles as your question didn't specify which engine you are using.

  • Start by adding an input>geometry node using the normal output.

  • Next, add a Separate XYZ node, you will be using the Z output.

  • A color ramp will be next, this will control the mix between the dust layer and the rest of the material. Plug this and the preceding 2 nodes into the Fac of the mix shader as shown below.

  • You can either use a diffuse shader colored as you want your dust, or use a suitable image for your dust, it will go in the bottom input of a mix shader.

Here is the node setup with an image texture, to use without, simply don't use it. enter image description here

This is a suzanne with the above material:

enter image description here

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