How to Achieve Real Life Reflection on Metal Surface

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Do you want to create some visual effect like the picture and animation shown on the top? This tip is for creating ambient environment reflection on metal surface, especially useful for making mechanical watch animation because when we place a luxury mechanical watch in our real life, we will see the shiny metal surface reflecting its ambient environment, which is one of the key features of the beauty of mechanical watch. Therefore, applying this visual effect into mechanical watch animation will make the animation more realistic and delicate. This is also exactly what I did in my mechanical watch animation project.

First, build a sphere surround the mechanical watch. Second, go to the material editor and choose standard material. Under maps, check Self-Illumination map, and choose Bitmap. Then, apply the HDR image as the self-illumination map. HDR image is the trick in this tip because HDR image offers me a greater dynamic range of luminosity than standard digital image, which works way better than JPEG image. Each pixel in the HDR image contains real life lighting information, which means when you animate the watch in your computer, you actually place the watch in our real life. Third, edit mesh for the sphere, choose edit polygon and apply the material that we just create to the certain spot on the sphere where you like. Finally, under Render Setup – Global Illumination, check enable final gathering option and choose to whatever final gathering precision presets level you like depending on whether you have enough time and whether you have a powerful computer or not because sometimes it really takes a while to render one frame, but the result is stunning.