A Reflection Map can be any image made from outside Electric Image like a photograph or a painting, or an image EI creates automatically from the scene Ð the latter's called an Environment Map. In the Reflection Enabler section of the Reflection tab, turn off Raytracing by setting it's Mode to None. Some of the best looking reflections come from simple images. I have a few examples that I'll bring forward now. Here, this first image is a panorama. It is wide because most reflections will be mapped spherically. The second image is a painting of a horizon, and again, it is wide. This would be a good map to make a Chrome Reflection. Finally, this third map is a very simple painting of some soft wiggly lines. What they all have in common is that they have a good amount of contrast and have interesting shapes. Let me close these. Back to our Reflective ball. Our first Map option is to use a Global Map. A Global Map is a simple Reflection Map that can be shared by anything in a scene. Because of this, it is applied not in the model's Material Window, but in the World Object, here at the top of our Project Window. Double-click that and you get the World Info Window. In the tab, Global Reflection, we can add our Reflection Map. Let's click Add and choose this image. Now, double-click the image name and we get our familiar Mapping interface. The default Projection is spherical, which is just fine. We can close that now, and let's render a Snapshot. Now the ball reflects the image we applied to the World. Again, the advantage of a Global Map is that any model can reflect it. You don't have to keep applying it to every model we want to be reflective. Let's click off Global Maps and click on the next option, Use Bitmap. This is where the Reflection Maps List comes in. This list contains the images you want to be used as reflections. I should point out that these are the actual reflections themselves and are not the same as the Reflectivity Maps on the left. As we've seen, the Reflectivity Maps limit where the reflection is applied on the model. They are not the reflections themselves. In the Reflection Maps List, let's click Add and we'll choose this Soft Organic image. Let's render a Snapshot. And we have a rather neat looking marble effect, but so far our mapping techniques ignore the surrounding objects. We have to use Raytrace all the time to see the box in the Teapot. Let's click off Bitmap and click on the option to Use Environment. Two radio buttons come to life. A Mirror Environment does exactly what it says. It mirrors the objects directly opposite its surface. Because of this a Mirror Map is not the best reflection for anything that isn't flat. If you wanted a reflective ground, like a frozen pond, then a Mirror Map would be fine. An Environment Map is similar to a Mirror Map in that it takes a picture from the point of view of the model's surface and projects it back onto the model, but it actually takes six pictures: front, back, left, right, top, and bottom. In other words, it creates a cubic map of its environment and projects it back on the model from six angles. Let's render a Snapshot. Not bad. Let's compare it to the Raytrace version. Very similar, but not exact. We can see that the bottom of the cubic Environment Reflection is having trouble because it's a picture right next to the floor and it doesn't know how to map its shadow correctly. It would probably be better if the ball model was higher and wasn't touching the floor. Also, we can see a small scene where the sides of the Cubic Map meet. If your model was a car bumper or something, you probably wouldn't see this problem, but on a sphere you do. Environment Maps render quickly and look pretty good, but they also have one more big advantage. Let's click the Configure button and we get our usual Map Controls, but in the Filter tab on the left you now see the option to calculate the Environment Map only once. This can be a huge time savings if you have a large scene and your objects are not moving but the camera is. So, how do you decide when to Raytrace or Reflection Map? It all depends on your scene and what effect you want. Let's open another project. In this project we have a logo for a fictitious company. Let's render a Snapshot. This looks pretty cool. Loads of reflections and almost none of it is Raytraced. This logo doesn't really benefit from Raytracing because it's not in a scene with a lot of models separated by distance and all of its parts are pretty much stacked on top of each other. The trick to making this look good is to have the logo broken up into elements specifically designed for reflections. In our Project Window we have several models. Even the text is broken up by character and each character is broken up into a face and a bubble with different Reflection Map Types. You may have to experiment in your own scenes. I would suggest trying a Reflection Map approach first. It saves a lot of rendering time and can look great. As far as the Raytracing method, if you need real reflections and precise reflections, then go this route. It may take longer, but the results won't disappoint.
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