Texturing for Beginners: Top 14 Ways to Mix Textures and Shaders


Want to learn texturing, but too lazy to start? I’ll back you up. In this tutorial you’ll learn the top 14 ways to mix textures and shaders in Blender.

All of this under 20 minutes, so it’s like a Happy Meal (but doesn’t make you fat). Why bother?

Creating realistic materials is all about blending and mixing. That’s because every real surface consists of dozens of layers. So after you finish this Blender tutorial you’ll get a massive level up in realism.

Robot model: Deux by Jerry Perkins (MasterXeon). Originally it was made for the HardOps addon for Blender – I really recommend you take a look at this hard surface modeling tool. 

Highlights of the Tutorial: 14 Ways to Mix Textures

1. By Polygons

Select some polygons and assign a different material to them. Easy peasy.

An unfortunate truth is that you will have to tweak two materials instead of one.


2. By Object ID

Each object in Blender can have a different ID. You can change it in the Object properties panel.

After doing it, you can use the Object Info node in the material editor to mix between different materials, based on this ID. For example, if the ID is less than 2, blend this material in.


3. By Random

You can assign a random shade of grey to each object, using the Random output of the Object Info node.


4. Paint the Mask in 3D

Probably this is the common place of texturing in 3D. Paint the mask by hand.

Unwrap the object using the Smart UV Project. Then go to the Texture Paint mode, add a diffuse texture into a paint slot. Have fun with painting.


5. Project the Mask

Press T to open the tools shelf, then go to the External tab and hit the Quick Edit button. It will launch KritaGimp or Photoshop (depending on what you set up in the preferences).

Then paint whatever you want on a separate layer. Hit Save, go to Blender and hit Apply.


6. Use the 2nd UV Map

One of the easiest ways to add a decal is to use the second UV map. Select the second UV channel, then select some polygons and unwrap them using the Project from View method.

In the material editor, don’t forget to apply this second UV map to your decal texture.


7. Procedural Textures

One huge advantage of the procedural textures is that they have an infinite resolution. Say, you can zoom in and still see a crispy clear outline.


8. Tiled Textures & Box Mapping

If you hate creating UV maps for your models, you’ll love this way of mixing textures. You just need to apply the Generated coordinates with the Box mapping, to project the seamless mask texture from 6 directions (the sides of the box).


9. Normals

You can mix shaders and materials, based on the surface normals. Great for the direction-based effects: dust, snow and so on.


10. Height

For me it was a pretty counter intuitive way to draw the height gradient for the model. Clearly, I suck at math.

You can separate the Z component of the Generated coordinate. Then use it as a height mix factor.

Thank you folks at Blender Stack Exchange.


11. Slope

You can calculate the slope by separating the Z value from the Normal vector.

What else? Run it through the ColorRamp to fine tune it.


12. Vertex Color

Yet another way to mix textures is to use Vertex Color. This way is a bit sucky because this works well only on the high-poly models.

If you wanna try it, press V to enter the Vertex Paint mode, then paint the mask.


13. Pointiness

Pointiness can be used to mix between textures based on the object curvature. This is the easiest way to create an edge mask.

Though, it depends on the polygon density too.


14. Distance (Dynamic Paint)

Finding the distance between two objects and passing it to a shader is possible. Cumbersome, but possible.

You need to enable the Dynamic Paint first. Then assign a canvas object and a brush object. The black and white Wet Map will be your distance gradient.

img14Source: Creative Shrimp


  • eritojai

    Great Tips !