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Chapter 12. The Material Editor: Your Pa... > Adjusting Specular Highlights in Mat...

Adjusting Specular Highlights in Materials

In my opinion, specular highlights, which are the scattered light bouncing from a surface and primarily a function of the molecular makeup of the material, do not receive enough attention in visualization. They really are the first visual clue for identifying most materials.

A hard surface has a tight molecular structure, so the light that strikes it is bounced almost directly back, causing a small, bright, hard-edged highlight. Soft materials, on the other hand, let the light penetrate the surface, absorbing some of it and scattering some of it widely, with only a small amount bouncing back to the viewer. This results in large, dull, and soft-edged specular highlight.


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