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I would like to use a material to create a blending effect from the edge of geometry to the mid point like I can with the Erode Node in the compositor. I don't know how to get edge to edge distances, but I feel like it could be hiding in pointyness attribute? I don't want to paint it or preprocess it (otherwise I'd stay with compositor)

See image:

Filled gradient

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You are right that using pointiness will do what you want. Take a look at the following node setup. Changing the subsurf modifier divisions changes the amount of blending (as well as adjusting the color ramp)

In short, pointiness is connected to the factor of a color ramp and that to the diffuse shader's color.

Pointiness blending

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  • $\begingroup$ In the future, please crop screenshots so as to only include the relevant parts. This helps make it clear which part of the screen you're referring to and to be able to more clearly see its contents. $\endgroup$ – someonewithpc Sep 17 '16 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ I included the alternative so that it was clear what was happening to the image. Perhaps I could have been more clear. $\endgroup$ – 3pointedit Sep 17 '16 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ I have tried the pointyness on concave shapes like letters and it doesn't take them into account sadly. $\endgroup$ – 3pointedit Sep 17 '16 at 22:23
  • $\begingroup$ @someonewithpc The whole screenshot is relevant, the node setup, as well as the modifier setup. The only thing I could have left out would be the top bar. $\endgroup$ – qwazix Sep 18 '16 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ @3pointedit try with converting to mesh first $\endgroup$ – qwazix Sep 18 '16 at 13:35
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I wanted to update the answer given by @qwazix, I have converted to mesh and added depth modifier as well as a remesh modifier at high subdivisions.

pointiness to text

I couldn't use a text object as there were too many triangle faces, and dissolved faces exhibited the same problem.

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  • $\begingroup$ As a fan of good typography I find your solution very hard to look at. (The default font is a typographical disaster anyways, no need to make it even worse). The Remesh modifier rounds off all angles and introduces stepping in round elements. $\endgroup$ – yann Mar 12 '18 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ I agree its terrible but the point was to get a shader value for cycles materials not really to make the font look... better? $\endgroup$ – 3pointedit Mar 12 '18 at 14:01

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