The Reflectance Channel, Part 13: The Layer Color and Layer Mask Attributes

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Instructor Patrick Goski

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  • Duration: 07:20
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An overview of the Layer Color and Layer Mask Attributes and their differences.

In this video you will learn about the Layer Color and Layer Mask attributes and the effect they have on a Reflectance layer, as well as the key difference between the two. Find out how the sliders and color affect the reflectance, and learn how to use textures to modulate the effect of both the Layer Color and Layer Mask.



- In this video, we're going to look at the Layer Color and Layer Mask Attributes inside the Reflectance Channel. So the first thing we'll do is create a new material and rename this to "Owl Body." We'll then apply the material to the "Owl Body" in the Object Manager, and then click on the material again to bring up the attributes for that in the Attribute Manager. We'll then select the Default Specular and click Remove to get rid of that. We'll then add a new Beckman Reflectance Layer, and set the Specular to 0%. We're then going to click Render to see what we're working with. So here we have the owl with the 100% reflective material. We can then go into the Layer Color and in here we have an attribute for setting the color of the reflection, the brightness, as well as using a texture, and this could either be a bitmap or a shader. We'll start by changing the color. If we set this to red, it's going to use the values in the red to control both the color of the reflection as well as the opacity of the reflection. If we click on Render now, we're going to see that the reflection is red. But in areas where the reflected area is darker, we're going to see the color channel coming through. So here was 100% reflective, and we can see it's properly reflecting the black areas in the environment, and then with the red color. Here, the darker areas have less of a reflective value. Let's go ahead and set this back to white so it's 100% reflective, and then we can look at the brightness. So if we click Render with the brightness set to 100%, we'll see the full reflection in the render. If we set this to 50% in Render, we're going to see a blend between the actual Reflectance Layer and the color channel below. Setting this to 0% is going to provide us with a render that only shows the color channel. Next, we can go into the texture and add something here to control how this reflection looks over the surface with something like a Fresnel. If we go into the Fresnel and just adjust the color sliders here, we can increase the contrast on the Fresnel effect. If we Render now, we'll see that we get areas that are 100% reflective that are facing away from the camera, and the areas that are facing the camera are going to show us just the color channel. We then have the Mixed Mode, and this is going to determine how the texture or shader that we have selected is going to be blended with the color that we've selected. Right now, it's set to Normal which means this shader is overriding everything set in the color. If we set this to Multiply, we can then reduce the brightness of the layer color and render. Now it's going to show a little bit of the color channel through the reflection. So we can set this back to 100%, and then clear the texture there. The Layer Mask is very similar. So again, we have a slider from 0% to 100%. With 100% it's going to show us the perfectly reflective material. Setting this to 50% and then clicking Render is going to allow some of the color channel to come through. If we set this to 0% and render, we're going to see only the color channel in the Render. We can set this back to 100%, and then adjust the color. Doing so, we're going to see results that match what we were seeing with the layer color. Let's go ahead and set that back to white, and we can take a look at the texture. So in this case, if we add something like the Fresnel and then increase the contrast there, we can click on Render, and we're going to see that we get areas that are 100% reflective and other areas that let the color channel come through again. The difference here is having to work with the Mixed Mode. When you're using the Layer Mask, the amount is already going to control the maximum amount of this reflection. So we don't have to worry about setting this to a Multiply Mode. If we set the amount to 50% and then render, we're going to see that we already start seeing through the reflectance to the color channel. So we can go ahead and set that back to the default. Now, the big difference between the Layer Color and Layer Mask is how they work with multiple reflectance layers and how they blend with the color channel. Let's go ahead and rename this layer to "Base Layer," and then we'll go into the Mask and set this to red. If we render, we'll see that we have our base layer. Now, we're going to add another reflectance layer, and just call this "Top Layer", and in this one we'll use the layer color. So here, we can add in the Fresnel effect, and adjust the contrast just so that we get something that is a little bit more strong of an effect. Let's set that so that we have more of the reflection, rather than more of the color channel. If we click on Render, you're going to see that the layer color is actually overriding the base layer. So we're not able to see through this reflectance layer. This is because the layer color only works with the color channel. If we wanted to see the base layer through the top layer, then we need to use the Layer Mask. So we can copy this shader, and then clear it from the layer color. If we then set that to the Layer Mask and then click Render, you'll see that we now get an area that is 100% reflective, and then the area that's being masked out allows us to see through to the base layer. So just to recap, in this video we went over the Layer Color and Layer Mask attributes. Both of these have a color chip, allowing you to set the color of the reflection as well as sliders to change the amount. You can also add in a bitmap texture or shader to control the brightness of either of these. The key difference to know between these is that the layer color is only going to affect the color channel, and the Layer Mask will actually affect the reflectance layer itself, allowing you to see through to the layers below. In most cases, when working with multiple reflectance layers, you'll want to focus on using the Layer Mask. It should also be noted that the Layer Mask amount is going to be linked to the sliders at the top of the reflectance channel.
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