The Water Map and the 3D Material

The Water map comes to us from the days of 3D Studio DOS where it first started as an IPAS plug-in. You can use it to create the obvious-such as water-but it also works very well for effects like Opacity and Bump. For clarity, however, we will refer to the map as if it were being used as a water material within the scene. You can apply any of the concepts or techniques discussed here to just about any situation that calls for the Water map.

The map has several adjustable parameters. The strength of the Water map is not so much the static version of the map-actually Noise produces a much better “still” water-but rather how it animates. Just by animating the Phase value over time, you can produce some pretty incredible organic motion. The interface of the Water map. If you have ever observed the way ripples move on the surface of the water, you might see that there are actually many sets of ripples crossing-sometimes they are even crossing each other or moving in the opposite direction.

The reasons for this are many-wind and interaction with still objects-but you can simulate this by increasing Water’s Num Wave Sets value. The default of 10 works well for many situations but may prove to be too much clutter for calmer effects. The distribution of the waves is completely random. The Wave Length fields (Wave Len Min and Wave Len Max) control the biggest and smallest sizes of the Wave sets. Wave sets, themselves, can be many sizes.

By specifying a different Min and your 3D application value, you are giving the Water map some leeway in randomizing the sizes of the sets. If these two values are the same, the sizes of the sets would be the same and might look a bit unrealistic. For the best random effect, put at least a 20 percent unit difference between these Wave Len Min and Wave Len Max. Amplitude is a sneaky value-you are controlling a single threshold value.

Believe it or not, it is actually controlling the predominance between Colors #1 and #2. At 0, Color #1 is predominant. As you increase the Amplitude, Color #2 becomes more predominant. The default setting of 1.0 should work for most situations.Wave Radius allows you to control the overall size of the water ripples. Setting the radius to 0 sets the Water map’s waves to the smallest size possible. Increasing this value enlarges the size of the effect across the surface of your object. You can see this most easily if you set the number of Wave sets to 1.

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