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PBR, Photorealism, and Custom Shaders!!


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I'm doing bit of RnD for a short film and so want to have better understanding of both Photoreal

& a bit stylised look..

I am not an advanced user but have fair understanding of how things work in Houdini.

I set up a quick scene where i have a dosplacement shader on the grid and a very simple surface shader .

But its really not what i needed overall.

I was just experimenting with someways to get more photorealistic look in my renders..

So I thought of experimenting with PBR..

Unfortunately I feel PBR did not really work out for me because I was using my own shaders..

(when i used built in shaders PBR would render an image but I used my shader it did not)

So there has to be an ingredient missing.. :)

I tried looking through the help but could not really crack it..

Also I have noticed my renders lack a crisp look and are really low on contrast and so on believability..

(this could also be because of my really clumsy Lighting..but I tried improving that too..but somehow I

cant see that touch of reality)

Having said that I do understand that shader writing even through VOPs is not easy in the least.

Could someone point me in the right direction..or give me few tips/pointers??

(till then i will try my best to dissect the pre-built shaders)

Thanks a lot!!

By the way..here's my hip file:


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For information on PBR be sure to check out the Masterclass on Mantra:


As for our scene, if you connect the f output of lighting1 to the F input of output1 it should work as expected. This is because PBR ignores the Cf variable in favor of F which is a BSDF.

Hope this helps,


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Thanks Ed and Dan..I will certainly look at the PBR documentation and Master Class lecture..

The thing is i'm relatively new to shader writing (even if its using VOPs)....i know its gonna take some time (as well as hard work..)

but I'm also trying to collect any Tips etc on Shader Writing, Rendering or even Workflow for that matter concerning Photorealism as well as Non Photo realism. This will really help me out and save me some time.

Any examples etc or any thread that might be of help (though i did search about this topic here, I could have missed something) will be really appreciated.

Thanks again :)

PS: are there any tutorials on extensive shader writing using VOPs?

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thanks Dan! that worked..

But my surface shader's not at all looking good. :(

actually its pretty plain right now (its just a color vop with a lighting model thats all).

since i have just started experimenting..and its taking pretty long for me to get a hang on it..

Any tips to improve it guys??

thanks a lot :)

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I would advise setting up a basic working pipeline first that delivers all your lighting and comping requirements then you can attempt to scale your workflow to improve and test out other options like PBR.


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