How to use PBR textures in your software

The most popular PBR texture workflows are specular / glossiness and metallic / roughness. There are also other combinations, such as using specular, and roughness in place of glossiness.

All textures available at our cgaxis.com store are prepared under Specular Workflow with Glossiness. In this article, we will show how to use them, even if the software you use is not typically adapted to this workflow.

Our textures use the following sets of maps:

  • Diffuse – the most popular map in 3D graphics. Depending on what color the object will be, you can use it in your 3d software in such slots as diffuse, albedo, main color, or color.
  • Height – a grayscale map that affects the shape of the object’s mesh. This decides what bumps and dents will appear on the object, and where they will show. The brighter the image, the more prominent it will show on the surface. The darker the image the more it will appear concave. You can use this map in slots: height or displacement
  • Normal – this map is also used to add irregularities to an object – bumps, and dents. In this case, it is an RBG map which channels correspond to the X, Y, and Z coordinates.
  • Reflection – a grayscale map, responsible for the intensity with which light from an object is reflected. The brighter the object the more it will reflect light, the darker, the object the less it will reflect. These can be used in your 3d application as reflection or specular.
  • Glossiness – controls the level of mat vs gloss on an object surface. The darker the surface the more mat it will appear. The brighter the surface the glossier it will appear

Our texture maps are popular with many applications and integrate easily with such platforms as 3ds Max and V-Ray. You simply add the texture maps to the bump slots of your diffuse, reflection, glossiness and normal map channels. Height is loaded in VRayDisplacementMod. You can read more about how to do this in at https://cgaxis.com/how-to-use-pbr-textures/

Below we demonstrate how to use textures in applications that are supported, and those that support metallic / roughness workflow.

Marmoset Toolbag

Simply change the following material parameters:

  • change the subdivision tab to flat and add some tessellation.
  • change the displacement tab to height and load a height map.
  • change the surface tab to normals and load the normal map.
  • change the microsurface tab to gloss and load the glossiness map.
  • In the albedo tab load, a diffuse map.
  • change the reflectivity tab to specular and load a reflection map.

Sketchfab

In Sketchfab change the PBR maps to Specular. Then add Albedo and Specular reflection maps. Select Glossiness from the Roughness/Glossiness tab. Turn on Displacement and load a Height map. Sketchfab has no option for tessellation, so you need to add your object with a higher number of polygons while being cautious with the displacement value. Finally, turn on the Normal/Bump Map and load a Normal Map.

SketchUp

To use PBR textures you have to download the file extension at https://github.com/SamuelTS/SketchUp-PBR-Plugin

This plugin allows you to use PBR textures in Metallic/Roughness. I discuss how to convert Specular/Glossiness to Metallic/Roughness at the end of this article.

3ds max + Arnold

Open your Material Editor and create a Standard Surface material. Load a diffuse map into the Base Color, click the reflection map in the Specular slot and Glossiness in the Roughness slot. Go to the parameters of the Bitmap in the Roughness slot and the Output check Invert. In the Special Features, menu load a Normal Map in the Normal (Bump) slot.

Now select your object and add the Arnold Properties modifier. Go to the Displacement Map setting, click Use Map, and load a Height map. 

Go to the Subdivision tab and click enable. Adjust iterations, to add or decrease desired detail. 

You can also play around with the Height Value in the Displacement section to set how high it will deform the surface.

Blender + Cycles

Before starting make sure that you have the latest version of Blender installed and Cycles used as your renderer. In 2.79b go to the render setup and change the Feature Set to Experimental. This will allow better use of a displacement map. Create a new material with the Principled BSDF node. 

In the Base Color node, load a Diffuse map.

In the Specular node load a Reflection map. 

Load a Glossiness map and add an Invert node to it. 

Then plug this to the Roughness node. 

Next, make a Normal Map node and plug this into the Normal map.

Next, load a Height map and plug this into the displacement node. 

You can also add the Math node with the multiply function to control the value of the displacement.

When the material is complete you need to add some subdivisions to your object for the displacement map to be more detailed. You can either use a standard subdivision while adding a few levels or choose adaptive.

KeyShot

To use our PBR textures in Keyshot first you need to go to the Preferences menu and check “Use gloss instead of roughness for materials”. Then open a Material Graph. Change your material type to Advanced. Load Diffuse map in the Diffuse slot. Load Reflection Map in the Specular slot, Glossiness map in the Gloss slot and Normal map in the Bump slot.

Finally, create a Displace Node and load a Height map to it. Set the Displacement height and Execute Geometry Node.

Cinema 4D

First, create a new material. Then in the Color menu load a Diffuse map. 

In the Reflectance menu, load a Glossiness map. 

In the Roughness menu change Black to Point to 1 and change White to Point to 0, this will invert the map.

Next load the Reflections map to the Reflections Strength and Specular Strength.

Load the Normal map into Normal.

In the Normal of your material load a Normal map.

In the Displacement load a Height map. 

To adjust the detail, check the Sub Polygon Displacement and set the Subdivision Level to the suitable level.

Converting Specular / Glossiness to Metalness / Roughness

In the specular workflow the object’s color and reflectivity are determined by two separate maps – albedo (diffuse) and specular (reflection). In the metalness workflow however, the albedo map (diffuse) determines which part of the object will have which color and how much reflectivity it will have. Finally, there is the metalness map, which tells which part will be metal and which part will be an insulator such as (plastic, wood or other non-metal surface).

Below we demonstrate you how to convert these maps using Photoshop. The metalness map should be black and white. Open the Specular map and increase its contrast.

Keep in mind, that only metallic elements should be white. You may have to lighten some of the images manually. Save the image as a metalness map.

To convert maps from specular workflow to metalness, you will have to modify the albedo map (diffuse). Open the diffuse map.

Paste the reflection map as the new layer.

Now merge these two maps using metalness as a mask. Open the metalness map and go back to the document with your diffuse and reflection maps. Select the layer with the reflection map and click Add Layer Mask. Then go to the Image > Apply Image…

Choose the metallness map as Source.

You also need to prepare a Roughness map. The roughness map is the opposite of the glossiness map, simply invert the image.

Below you can see the differences between Specular / Glossiness Workflow maps and Metalness / Roughness Workflow maps.

Specular workflow:

Metalness workflow:

One reply on “How to use PBR textures in your software

  • lukasso

    when using those textures with method as it saying for keyshot….it doesn’t look phenomenal…any advice ? maybe I’m doing something wrong

    Reply

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