The Reflectance Channel, Part 07: The Layers Tab

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Instructor Patrick Goski

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An overview of the Layers tab in the reflectance channel.

In this video you will be introduced to the Layers Tab. You’ll get an overview of adding and removing layers, copy and pasting layers, renaming layers, as well as adjusting the Layer Mask Amount. You will also learn about the Global Reflection Strength and Global Specular Strength as well as the Separate Pass checkbox for use with Multipass rendering.



- In this video, we're going to take a look at some of the features that you can use to help manage the reflectance layers. So, the first thing we'll do is go to the owl body material, and then make sure we go to the reflectance tab. In the reflectance tab, you have two options that will show up at first, the layers tab and then the default specular. For this video, we're going to be focusing on the layers tab. The layers tab is going to give you a general overview of the different reflectance layers that you have in your reflectance channel. It's also going to provide you with several commands for adding new layers, removing layers, copying layers, and pasting them. You'll also be able to rename your layers and change the blend mode between layers, as well as an easy slider for access to the layer mask amount. You then have sliders for controlling the global amount of the reflection and the specular brightness, as well as specifying if this reflectance layer should be added as a separate pass. The first thing that we'll take a look at is renaming the reflectance layers. So, we can see here that we have the default specular, and we can select this by clicking on it. You'll notice that when you do this, it's displayed below the layers tab. If you double-click on the reflectance layer's name, you'll be given an edit field, where you can rename the layer. Pressing enter will accept that. You also have an option of hiding a specific layer. This can be done with the eyeball next to the layer name. Clicking this will turn that layer off as well as disable all of the editing for those attributes. Clicking again brings the reflectance layer back. If you want to add a new reflectance layer to the reflectance channel, you can click on the add button. When you do this, you'll get a menu with all the different shading models that can be used in the reflectance channel. Selecting one of these will add that to the top of the reflectance layer list. When you have multiple players in the reflectance channel, you can change the order of these layers. This is done by clicking and dragging a layer in the list. When you release, the layers will be reordered based on where you release the mouse. If you would like to remove a layer from the reflectance channel, you can select that layer and click the remove button. The other option is to select a layer and simply hit delete. There are also options to copy a layer. To do this, select the layer that you wish to copy, then click the copy button. You can then click paste, and that layer will be added to the top of the layer list. It will share all of the exact attributes of the layer that you copied. This includes any textures that have been placed in the texture link fields. Once you have multiple reflectance layers, you can use the drop down menu beside each of the layers to control how it will be blended with the other layers below it. In this case, you have a choice of using a normal blending mode, which will overwrite any of the layers below, or an add mode, which will add that layer to any of the other layers below. To the right of the drop down, you have sliders, and these sliders control the layer mask amount. So as we adjust the slider, you'll see that the layer mask amount is adjusted to match. You can then adjust all of these together to get the desired reflectance for the reflectance channel. If you're happy with the layer mask amounts that you've set but you just want to lower the overall brightness of the reflection or the specular, you can use the global reflection brightness slider and the global specular brightness slider. Changing the reflection brightness will lower all of the reflections, and this will be done relative to whatever you have set for the layer mask amounts. The same thing is true for the specular. If you adjust this, you can reduce the specular strength for all of the layers combined. This allows you to have simple control over the overall blending of all of the layers together, without jumping into each individual layer. Finally, in the layers tab, there is a check box for separate pass. This check box is going to be used in conjunction with your multi pass settings. So, if we go to the render settings and look at either the reflection pass or the specular pass, you'll see that there are options for separate materials. If we click on the drop down, there's an option for none, all, or selected. When using the selected mode for separate materials, you'll be able to specify which materials should be separated in a pass. Let's start by looking at what happens when this is set to none. We'll click render and look at the results. So for this, we'll go to the layer tab and then look at the single passes. We can see that we have the reflection contribution and the specular contribution. Now, we're going to go back to the render settings and under the reflection pass, we'll set separate materials to selected. If we click render again, we're going to see that we still only get a reflection pass for the entire image, and a specular pass for the entire image. In the layers tab, if we enable the check box and then click on render, we'll see that there is still the reflection pass, which is going to give us the reflection for the entire image. But there's also a new folder, and this folder is going to contain the separated material. So, this is only showing us the reflection pass for the separated material that we selected here, using the separate pass check box. The one thing that you'll notice is even though we've specified that this reflectance channel should be rendered as a separate pass in multi pass, it's only giving us a separate pass for this material for the reflection. In this case, you also need to set the separate pass in the specular multi pass. So if we look at the reflection, we have the option for separate materials and we've set this to selected. If we go to the specular pass, we'll see that separate materials is still set to none. This means that all of the speculars in the image will be rendered as one pass. If we set separate materials to selected and then render again, you'll see that we now have a separate specular pass just for this material. Just to recap, in this video we covered adding new layers using the add button. We covered removing layers using either the remove button or simply clicking on delete. We also covered how to copy and paste a layer using the copy and paste buttons. We went over renaming layers by double-clicking on a layer name and then hitting enter to accept, or clicking off. You can also enable or disable specific layers using the eye icon, and you can change the blending mode between layers. You can change the layer mask amount using the slider next to the layer, and you can also change the global brightness for either the reflection or specular or all the layers together. Finally, you had the option to separate this reflectance channel into its own pass when doing multi pass rendering.
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