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Q&A- How can you use caustics easily in Shade?

Observe the image at far left. That light pattern was generated using caustics. How can we do this easily, without complex render settings or expensive plugins?

Caustics involve light patterns generated by reflection and/or refraction, like the light patterns on the bottom of a swimming pool.

There's a , produced by the high-end CALLISTO render plugin, that shows this. CALLISTO is available only with Shade professional, and rendering caustics requires a complex setup.

For the purposes of this tutorial, we would like to show how to create caustics without using CALLISTO, so that the effect can be created even in the designer LE and standard versions of Shade.

Click the article's title for the answer....

Originally created for e frontier by If you mentioned path tracing and photon mapping, you got the right answer!

First, let's set up the object and the spotlight as shown above.

To make caustics easy to understand, set up the spotlight and point it at the floor so that it shines through the object, creating an illuminated spot on the floor shaped a bit like a sea-urchin.

Next, create the surface material setting for the object. First, select the object and click the Surface button in the Aggregate palette, then set the sliders as shown above. The object should now render as if it were glass, refracting light through its glass surface. Looks good, doesn't it?

If you're using Shade standard or professional, you can set the Fresnel slider to 0.85 or so, to make it look even more real.

Open the Image window and click the disclosure triangle in the upper left to reveal the Render Settings.

Set the rendering method to "Path Tracing"; click the G.I. tab (for Global Illumination) and select "Photon Mapping" from the drop-down menu; set the number of photons as shown.

These settings allow even affordable versions of Shade to handle caustics easily.