We've learned how to set up lights and a camera and we know how to import a model. The next step is texturing the model. The word texturing is a bit of a misnomer because it implies covering the surface of a model like paper mache. That's one way to create a material look, but not the only way. In fact, there are techniques that not only define the surface of the model, but also its interior as well. The two fundamental ways of creating a material look are first by image-based texture mapping, and second, by mathematical formula of how the material appears called Shading Algorithms or Shaders for short. Let's take a look at some examples. In this project we have two cylinders with a big notch cut out of each of them. Let's render a Snapshot. On the left we see the cut cylinder with an image map, a photograph of wood applied to it. On the right, the same cut cylinder with a wood Shader applied. The image map is from a real source and it looks great as far as it goes. Because it's a small photograph we can plainly see the image repeating, or tiling. Also, inside the cut we can see the image texture streaking or stretching. Now the wood Shader is a formula that synthesizes wood patterns. The difference is clear. The wood grain is seamless and does not streak inside the cut. The reason the texture on the left is stretching is because the picture of wood does not know how to wrap around an irregular surface like this. It can't reach all the way around the cylinder so it stretches part of it. The Shader does not have this problem because it traced the entire volume of the model with its material, not just the surface. I have another cylinder with an even bigger cut. Let's turn that on. This model also has the same Shader applied to it. I'll move the camera a bit, now let's render a Snapshot. We see a similar, but slightly different pattern in the wood with this new cylinder. It has exactly the same Shader but because we're looking deeper into the volume of the model, we see deeper into its material, just like cutting into a tree. You see a different pattern every time you cut into the tree, but it's the same material. Let's orbit our camera so we can see the tops of all three cylinders and render a Snapshot. On the left we can see that the picture texture is stretched to a point at the top of the model. The top no longer looks like wood at all, but the middle and right cylinders have our wood Shader applied to them and there's no distortion whatsoever. In fact, you can see that they share the same grain structure on their tops, but the cylinder on the right has a deeper cut so we see a variation of the grain the deeper we go inside the model. Shaders can also yield a significant time savings in terms of rendering. Because they are formulas, or mathematical descriptions of a material such as color, waviness of grain, and density of the wood grain, Shaders can be calculated fairly quickly. A texture, on the other hand, may be a very large image and must first be read by Electric Image, saved into what's called Texture Memory and then applied. The larger the texture image the longer this process takes, but there's a lot to be said about using Texture Maps despite their limitations. A real picture, or even a painting, can have so much detail and interest that simulating something like that with a synthetic shader would be a pointless exercise in programming. Some materials can be easily faked with a Shader, but sometimes you just need to use a picture. The rest of the lessons in this chapter are devoted to understanding Texture Maps and how to apply them.
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