Call for Content: MatCaps (source file)

Hola community!

Blender 2.80 introduced new MatCaps contributed by the community, bringing much more variation since they are now multiplied on top the object colors instead of taking over the whole shading like in 2.7.

Based on user feedback, it seems that some MatCaps are a bit too metallic to make them useful (especially for sculpting), so a new solution is coming for Blender 2.81: MatCaps can now have their specular lighting turned off!

How Does it Work

Simple. If the MatCap is prepared properly, the “Specular Lighting” checkbox – that is already available for Studio lighting – will be available for that MatCap.

Under the Hood

Blender 2.80 uses EXR files as MatCaps. In 2.81, support for multi-layer EXR was added. It basically looks at the EXR file for a layer with the name specular.

The Problem

When the Call for Content was made, providing the source .blend file wasn’t a requisite (we only asked for the EXR image). Without the .blend file the MatCaps can’t just be re-rendered by the developers with new passes and stuff.

The Solution

Re-render! At least some of them, not all of the MatCaps make sense to re-render since they are either not specular or serve different purposes.

How To

All you need is a little compositing to mix the passes and output a MultiLayer EXR file with two layers: diffuse and specular. Does it sound complicated? Download this ready-to-use demo file and copy over your lighting/shading.

Updated file: matcap_demo_02.blend. The first one had the Diffuse slider to 0.0 by mistake, instead of 1.0.


That’s all! Same guidelines as the last time apply, only this time provide the source .blend file so they are future proof.



Whatever you do, please don’t touch the “basic_2” matcap. That’s the only one decent for sculpting, it doesn’t need update. :+1:


The DIFFUSE multiplier has the factor = 0, shouldn’t it be 1?
I also don’t understand why, but I had to create the file output again.

Oops good catch! Thanks! Updated the file and screenshot.

For anyone that already had the file simply move the slider on the DIFFUSE node to 1.0.

The file provided for the first Matcaps had the ball a little more adjusted to the margins and a background plane, for this reason it did not generate a black contour line.
I upload the render and a capture to show the effect generated by the new file provided.
In this case I like it, but I don’t think it works for most matcaps.


Another thing I would like to comment, in general.
Half of the current Matcaps are very good, but from my point of view the other half is worthless. Either they have too much information and generate noise, or they have strange shadows and elongated glows, which even when applied on a sphere the sphere does not seem spherical.

For example, the Matcap that I just hung has a single horizontal cut and the edges blurred, this helps to center the vision on the center, and being horizontal and coinciding with nature is perceived better than a vertical cut. The material is completely unreal, but it helps to understand the surface curb.

I do not want to say that it is the perfect material, but like the majority of materials I made in the first call I see it more useful in terms of volume perception, and although the gradients are unreal, I see them more useful when modeling or sculpt. Unless the surface was completely flat, a variation of tone or color was always perceived.

This time I don’t think I have time to reproduce the Matcaps with the new specifications, but I recommend that modelers and sculptors try to do something with them before validating them, because sometimes they are as beautiful as useless.

Metal_Shiny is an exception, it’s crazy, but it’s useful.

basic_2 is a matcap that can benefit from this and when done right it will even become more useful for sculpting. But we should only change it if it has benefit from the current one.

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I have slightly improved the original file to facilitate the workflow.
The sphere was a little squat and I made it completely spherical.
I have cut the margins so that contour lines do not appear.
I have mixed more Render Passes to capture the indirect light and the one that passes through the object.
I have render the Passes with the new Intel Denoiser.
Everything Matcaps and files that I create will be left in the original link of the Drive, in case anyone wants to take advantage of them.

(upload://2w1873AK3IrqgwDCFbqbM0cF9Qn.jpeg) !

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Nice, being able to turn off the spec will be a nice addition!

I’d really like to update the hard surface matcap I contributed originally, as it was only good in really specific situations and distracting in the rest. Now it works for high poly, low poly, hard surface, and organic. While I can’t do the diffuse version since it’s totally metallic, I separated out the clear coat to give a similar effect.

If can you think of any further improvements, let me know!



[Edit: updated to round corners of highlights and include soft backlighting in diffuse channel]



Since the Matcap can be dyed in several ways, and it can be mixed with the Cavity, the next pair are clear and neutral. Without the Specular they also work quite well.

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I have mixed the color of some Matcaps to make a version with less saturation. I think it is better to incorporate it through the color of the object.


@pablovazquez I want to point out a few problems with the demo file.

  1. The subsurface modifier on the sphere causes it to shrink (mainly on the sides). This causes a black border around the matcap:

    (Also why is the orthographic scale of the Camera 2.01429 instead of 2? I would have though that it also produces a black border, but it doesn’t seem to, if the sphere is correct.)
  2. The subsurface modifier also causes artifacts on the top of the sphere, which might cause slight problems with shiny matcaps:
  3. It took me way to long to figure out why the file output node wasn’t working :slight_smile: Maybe annotate or document, that it has to be unmuted.

The sphere is slightly flattened, it should also be corrected I think.


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Here is an updated version of my ceramic matcap. With an additional desaturated diffuse channel for mixing colors with.

Google Drive For Download:


Here is an updated version of my clay matcap. With an additional desaturated diffuse channel for mixing colors with.

Google Drive For Download:


Being a bit picky, apart from the scale when using a subdivided sphere the upper and lower end are a little pointed and wrinkled. It is very subtle, but applying the subdivision modifier on a cube, improving spherification with the transform tool, and subdividing it again, is better.
The image shows the slight difference.

Here is an updated version of my Jade matcap. With an additional desaturated diffuse channel for mixing colors with.

Google Drive For Download (and .blend file):


Here is an updated version of my Sculpt matcap. With an additional desaturated diffuse channel for mixing colors with.

Google Drive For Download: