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How to Setup PBR Texture Maps in the Cinema 4D Material Editor

What is PBR?

Physically Based Rendering (PBR) is a method of shading and rendering that provides a more accurate representation of how light interacts with surfaces. It can be referred to as Physically Based Rendering (PBR) or Physically Based Shading (PBS)

Cinema 4D R16+ Required

Metal / Rough Workflow

Consists of 3+ Maps

Color - Metallic - Roughness

Materials May Include These Texture Maps as Needed:

  • Base (Color / Albedo)
  • Ambient Occlusion
  • Roughness
  • Normal
  • Height (Displacement)
  • Opacity (Alpha)
  • Emissive (Luminance)
  • Metallic

If you use Specular / Gloss Workflow, Invert the Roughness Map to create a Glossiness Map.

Quick Property Overview

Commonly Used Material Properties

The settings on this channel define the basic color of the material, such as RGB 255/0/0 for red.

You can use C4D shaders or load a PBR Texture Map. 

Common Names: Color, Base, and Albedo.

The Diffusion channel lets you darken and lighten the material in specific areas using a diffusion map. Diffusion maps are especially useful for making material look dirty and more realistic.

This is where the Ambient Occlusion Maps come in, very useful for adding darkness areas where they need to be.

The Reflectance channel leaves almost nothing to be desired with regard to reflections. Materials such as car or metallic lacquer that are made up of several layers, each of which reflect light differently, are easy to create. Simply stack the respective Reflectance layers.

Roughness Maps are used and different Fresnel Settings depending on the material.

Normal mapping is a technique that comes from computer game development that makes it possible to give a low-poly object (a low level of detail) a detailed, seemingly structured surface, resulting in low render times.

C4DCenter Normal Maps are generated using DirectX which requires:
“Flip Y (Green)” Option to be Activated.

Displacement is similar to Bump, the difference being that here the object is actually (not just apparently) deformed. This difference is best seen at object edges.

Round Geometry & Map Resulting Geometry Options Are Important!

Occasionally Used Material Properties

A luminescent object can be seen even when there are no lights in the scene. It is self-illuminated.

Loading an Emissive Map will mask out any areas that are marked 100% black and will illuminate any other color.

If the material has a color, the color is automatically reduced with increasing transparency. The equation is: color percentage + transparency percentage = 100%. So a white material with 0% transparency is white (100%). A white material with 50% transparency is 50% white (gray). A white material with 100% transparency has no color. Used for Glass and Liquids.

An alpha channel enables you to use an image to mask out areas of the material, allowing any background to show through. This is useful for faking detail in 3D. The idea is to define areas of the material that effectively become non-existent so that any underlying materials or objects show through.

Color Map

Also known as Base and Albedo Map

Place your Color Map in the Color Channel.

Ambient Occlusion Map

Ambient Occlusion Map is also known as an AO Map

Place your AO Map in the Diffusion Channel with the Mix Mode set to Normal, You can also change the Mix mode to Multiply for a deeper effect.

Normal Map

DirectX - Tangent - Flip Y

Place your Normal Map in the Normal Channel.

Height Map

Height is also known as Displacement

Use "Round Geometry" if using the material with displacement is being used on a curved surface. "

"Map Resulting Geometry" can help with removing artifacts on round geometry.

Roughness Map - Dielectric

Roughness Map in Dielectric

Set Layer Fresnel to Dielectric

Roughness Map - Metallic

Roughness Map in Metallic

Set Layer Fresnel to Conductor

Opacity Map

Also known as Alpha Map / Mask

Place your Opacity Map in the Alpha Channel

Common Questions

Texture mapping is a method for defining high frequency detail, surface texture, or color information on a computer-generated graphic or 3D model. Its application to3D graphics was pioneered by Edwin Catmull in 1974.

In 3D computer graphics, normal mapping, or Dot3 bump mapping, is a technique used for faking the lighting of bumps and dents – an implementation of bump mapping. It is used to add details without using more polygons.

UV mapping is the 3D modeling process of projecting a 2D image to a 3D model’s surface for texture mapping.