Materials and textures in 3D graphics – differences

Textures and materials in 3D graphics – how do they differ, and how do they affect the price of visualization?

In 3D graphics, materials and textures are almost as important as the shape of an object. Thanks to them, the visualized scenes are not only a collection of gray and dull elements. Simply put, it can be said that with the use of materials and textures, graphics “paint” the surface of a 3D object. The reality, however, is much more complicated. Sometimes the terms materials and textures are used interchangeably, so people who do not deal with 3D graphics professionally may feel confused. Therefore, in the following article, we present the difference between them and explain how they can affect the price of a visualization.

Few objects in the real world have completely uniform surfaces. Instead, most have patterns or color variations—for example, the rings in wood or the feeling of brick on a wall. Thanks to the textures and materials, the whole visualization looks natural and realistic. Depending on the type and style of visualization, 3D graphic designers use different methods of creating materials and textures, which may directly impact the price of the graphic service. So let’s take a closer look at them.

What are the materials?

Materials are applied to 3D models and have a significant impact on the final 3D model. Materials can have a wide range of properties. It is the combination of all these elements that define the appearance of the material and thus the final appearance of the objects given the material.

When combined with each other, the materials have many features that define the model’s final appearance. These features include:

  • Color – the primary color of the surface of a given 3D object
  • Transparency – this material setting allows more light to pass through it than is reflected, making it “visible” and will enable you to see things behind it. A classic example is glass elements that have a high transparency parameter
  • Refraction – in other words, the refractive index. It is a child parameter for color and transparency. Thanks to it, elements behind a transparent (for example, glass object) are seen distorted, just like in actual reality
  • Gloss – gives the thing a glossy appearance and is mainly used for wooden or stone elements
  • Reflection – thanks to the review on the 3D object, the components located next to it are visible. It is most often used in the case of mirrors or metal elements

The material allows you to determine how light affects an object. It is the material that determines the optical properties of an object, its color, opacity, whether it is matte or glossy. In addition, it defines things such as the amount of light absorbed and reflected by the object. So what does texture do?


Textures are simply images that are used to coat 3D objects. The texture can be any conventional JPEG, PNG, or TIFF file. Often, however, 3D artists decide to create their own textures. For example, a brick wall photo can give a 3D model a realistic red brick look. Some objects will also use multiple textures. For instance, in video games, terrain may contain grass texture, road texture, and rock texture.

The texture is applied to the 3D model with the material wrapped around the 3D model using special mapping tools. The surface will not override material settings, but rather it will work with an existing material setting, breaking its uniform pattern. Thanks to this, the visualized object takes on an even more realistic look. The bottom line is that you can’t texture an item that doesn’t have material. The texture itself is only an image. Material is needed to actually apply it to a given object.

Combining textures can get much more interesting effects, but it requires experience and practice on 3D graphics.

How do materials and textures affect the price of a visualization?

In most cases, 3D graphic designers start their work by finding the right textures for the visualized object. The surface must match the material they intend to give to the specific element. There are many paid and accessible websites that are rich in texture resources. In a situation where the visualization can be based on the available, ready-made textures, at this stage, the work of the graphic artist is greatly simplified because it requires only the use of a ready-made surface. Sometimes only minor modifications are needed.

However, if the visualized object has its own specific, individual properties, it is impossible to use ready-made solutions. In such cases, it is necessary to create a unique texture.

Creating dedicated textures for the object

Textures are very often created in a program other than materials. Photoshop, Affinity Photo, and even the free Gimp program are used for this purpose. A 3D graphic artist can use a photo or scan to prepare a given texture or manually paint the surface texture for a more realistic look. For example, a high-resolution image of bricks can serve as a texture for a real estate wall. This method is known as manually creating textures.

The other ways of creating textures are called procedural. In this case, programs such as Substance Painter are used to create surfaces, which allow you to create textures using computer algorithms. Some 3D graphic designers combine manual and procedural techniques to achieve the effect expected by the client.

Resolution is important

As we mentioned earlier, a texture is a pixel image that is superimposed on the finished model. After its execution in a graphics program, it can be given a color, a reflection parameter, or a refraction parameter, if necessary. At the texturing stage, the model should acquire specific properties to make it look realistic. This is a critical stage in the process of creating a visualization.

However, it is essential that the 3D graphic also takes care of the appropriate resolution. The textured surface quality depends on it, which is determined by the number of texels and pixels. Applying a low resolution will make the subject blurry. The use of the proper resolution is significant in product visualizations, where details play a huge role.

Impact on the lead time

As can be seen, in a situation where the visualized object has non-standard properties, shape, or surface appearance, working with materials and textures requires knowledge and experience on the part of the graphic artist to fully reflect his physical properties. In this case, the duration of the visualization is also extended. At the same time, the necessity of manual or procedural execution of textures will be associated with a higher cost of the graphics service. Thanks to this, however, the 3D visualization is realistic and highly effective!

This is not the end

Giving material and textures to visualized objects is just part of the work a 3D graphic needs to do to make the modeled shapes look realistic after rendering. However, the visualization must be as natural as possible.

At Double Prism, we provide a wide range of services related to 3D modeling and texturing. We make visualizations based on textures and materials available in libraries and individually (manually or procedurally) created at the client’s special request. We also provided texturing services for models provided by companies that wanted to achieve an entirely realistic effect in our activity.

If you have a vision of the product, you intend to present the property to potential buyers, or simply convince others to your idea, please contact us. There is no more effective way to show your vision to others than a picture. So contact us, tell us about your opinion, and we will transform your vision into high-quality realistic images.

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