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VRay Caustics | Swim Pool Render

VRay Caustics | Swim Pool Render

Here’s an awesome method for creating PHOTO-Realistic swimming pool water with vray caustics effect. One of the most exclusive and impressive features offered by VRay is the use of Caustics. By using this function you can create physically accurate water bodies on the cheap.

Here’s a whole step-by-step method for making amazing swimming pools that just stand out and sell the project!

As an introduction to caustics, let me first explain what caustics really are. In layman terms, caustics are the wavy light patterns formed under clear water when sunlight refracts through any uneven water surface. You also might’ve seen similar light patterns on any ceiling near a pool. Just like Refractive Caustics are formed under water, Reflective Caustics are formed in the same way via reflection.

Generally such caustic effects are native to unbiased render engines, but VRay gives you full control over its use. This is a very computationally intensive effect, so remember to only use it when it’s actually going to be visible in your final render.

To get started I’ve prepared a backyard swimming pool scene to demonstrate the vray caustics effect. You can also see a comparison between my own swimming pool in Miami and the rendered one.

Step 1. – Create a box the size of the swimming pool. Since we’re going to be creating an edgeless pool, the box will be a bit above our pool walls. This box geometry will give volume to our pool.

Step 2. – Caustic effect only occurs due to uneven water surface. This is why we need to add a lot of length and width segments to the box. This will give us enough detail when we put a noise modifier to our box.

Step 3. – Set the scale and seed of the noise so that it gives the appearance of little ripples. Also give the noise some fractal iterations and roughness. Set a few cms. of strength in all the 3 directions. This will make the waves on the surface.

Step 4. – Now it’s time to create a proper water material for our pool. Give the VRayMtl a Cyan or Teal color. A reflection color of pale blue, a glossiness of 0.97 and a reflective IOR of 3. We’ll give 100% refraction to our material with IOR of 1.33. Make sure you disable the ‘Affect Shadows’ setting too, otherwise we won’t be able to generate the caustic effect. Lastly, set a pale blue fog color with a 0.01 multiplier to make it behave like real water.

Step 5. – I wanted to give the surface a bit more detail, so I’ve applied a pool texture to the bump slot with strength of 14. The texture might also need some UV adjustment for proper orientation. Add some blur value to the texture for a smooth bump appearance.

Step 6. – Finally it’s time to turn on the VRay Caustics effect. Go to the GI tab for VRay and you’ll find the caustics rollout. Turn it on and you’re good to go. Max photons will influence your render time and the multiplier controls the strength of the effect. In case you’re using the VRay Sun for lighting, its target should lie on your pool. The photon radius of the light must also surround the whole pool.

Once rendered, I’ve gone ahead and applied an S-curve and standard post processing to the image.

If you’re interested in learning more about this make sure to open the upcoming emails.

We are starting in a few days, so keep following and discover how you can create amazing renders like this to add to your own portfolio!

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