A new 3D feature: Introducing Anisotropy

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Say it with me “An-eye-sott-row-pee”.

Anisotropy is a visual phenomenon that becomes visible when light hits certain surfaces. Anisotropic reflections get stretched or blurred based on the orientation of small grooves (bumps, fibers or scratches) that exist on a reflective surface.

The most common example that most of us have seen is when you look at the bottom of your stainless steel kitchen pot or frying pan. Twist it in front of you, and you’ll see light perform a radial “dance” around the surface. Similar effects also occur in other materials like velvet and human hair.  

Here are a couple of great examples:

The amplifier knob is a great example of how we commonly see anisotropy in the real world with metal objects. Move the model around to see it in action.

The Christmas baubles are also a great example of how anisotropic reflections appear on hair and fur. Again, moving the camera shows off the effect.

You can now add Anisotropy to any material on your model if you add an appropriate texture to control the highlights. Unlike many of our 3D features, adding the effect is not as simple as just throwing a switch, so be sure to visit our help center article to learn more about adding the effect to your models.

And if you do add an anisotropic effect, we’d love to see your models. Add an #anisotropy hashtag and we’ll keep an eye out for our favorites to promote! Here are two of our favorites from early adopters:

Bohdan has used the Anisotropic effect on the metal panels of his fire-breathing robot:

TheStoff has used anisotropy on his character’s hair. Even though the hair is stylized the effect is still very noticeable:

About the author

Paul Chambers

Paul Chambers

Artist Evangelist & Community outreach at Sketchfab, freelance CG Generalist, render-farm tinkerer. Zelda worshipper.


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