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Fluid Caustic Volume Shader Setup for Maya 2014
Fluid Caustic Volume Shader Setup for Maya 2014
david allen, updated 2015-02-05 07:41:23 UTC 58,162 views  Rating:
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Page 5 of 8

6. Water material settings

In this section, we’re only setting up the base color, refraction, and raytrace options for water. The main settings for caustics effects are in the sections following this one.

  1. Select “waterSurface_pPlane1”, right-click and hold to bring up the context-sensitive menu and assign a new Blinn material

  2. Select the material tab labeled “blinn1” and rename it to “waterSurface_blinn1"

  3. Set both the “Color” and “Transparency” to a light Blue

  4. Scroll down to “Raytrace Options”, enable “Refractions” and set “Refractive Index = 1.350”  

NOTE: If you have any interest in Chromatic Aberration for your refractions, this is where it would be enabled. We don’t use it for this tutorial because it doesn’t seem to have any effect on photon colors, and has unpredictable effects on the color of the water surface.

Test render 3

At this point, you can see the light cast on the inside of the environment cube above being refracted through the water surface. But notice that  the environment below the water is still very dark.

7. Water displacement shader — ocean

In order to distor the surface of the water to look like waves, we need to create an ocean displacement shader.

  1. Select the “blinn1SG” shader group tab in the Attribute Editor (CTRL + A), and rename to “waterSurface_blinn1SG”

  2. Press the checkered icon next to the “Displacement mat.” channel in the “Shading Group Attributes” rollout

  3. Select “Ocean” from the list of materials to create the new displacement map

  4. Rename the displacement shader to “waterSurface_displacementShader1”


  5. Select the “ocean1”  texture tab and rename it “waterSurface_ocean1”

  6. Scroll down to “Wave Height” and change the “Selected Value”  to “0.400”


  7. If you want to animate the water, Right Click on the “Time”attribute and select “Create new expression” and enter “waterSurface_ocean1.time = time/2;”

  8. To displace the water plane, return to the scene window and select “waterSurface_pPlane1”, then select “Modify > Convert > Displacement to Polygons with History”

Test Render 4

Now the surface of the water appears to have waves, and the materials are in place to start casting photons from the area light.