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Shader Tree Essentials

Shader Tree Essentials

Video Tutorial for MODO 401

If you use MODO for rendering, any time you put into learning the power of the Shader Tree is well spent. In this three segment video tutorial series, we delve into the Shader Tree while creating three beauty shots.

Each of the three images created in these instructional videos present their own challenges but they all share one thing – each makes extensive use of the Shader Tree in MODO 401. Working with supplied models and images, the videos will guide you through the thought processes and mechanics of increasing the visual sophistication of the final image in a step-by-step fashion. By watching and listening to Ryan explain his expert approach to getting the most out of the Shader Tree, each of the three supplied videos will deepen your knowledge of this critical part of MODO.

The videos are narrated in English and are most appropriate for people with some MODO experience. If you are new to MODO’s Shader Tree system, this free video will provide you with a basic overview.

This tutorial was developed for MODO 401. Users of later versions of MODO will find the tutorial useful, but will have to adapt some instructions to new techniques found in more recent versions of MODO.

Purchase the Shader Tree Essentials Video Tutorial

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Shader Tree Essentials Video Tutorial


3 video segments.
Total running time: 3 hours 26 minutes

Experience Level:

Intermediate MODO user. If you need to become familiar with basic Shader Tree functionality view this free video on MODO TV before embarking on these tutorials.

Software Compatibility:

MODO 401. Photoshop is recommended. This Video Tutorial was developed using MODO 401. The concepts can also be used in later MODO versions.

Product Format:

Videos are 1280 x 720 QuickTime (H.264).
All files delivered via electronic download.


Upon purchase your Training Video and associated files will be available for download through your Registered Training page. The Training Video is licensed to each individual and is not a studio-wide license. If you have a coupon code, please enter your code in the next step.

  1. Detailed Descriptions of Video Tutorial Segments

  2. MODO video by The Foundry

    Sample clip from the first segment of Shader Tree Essentials Video Tutorial.

  3. Video Segment 1

    Game Controller Product Shot

    This first video segment guides you through the creation of a final product shot from a supplied model. The almost stark white on white scene makes every tweak and nuance of the final “beauty pass” image highly visible. The approach in this video is to simulate (to some extent) studio lighting techniques and to use Photoshop to perform image post-processing on separate render outputs.

    Topics covered include:

    • Lighting a scene with luminous polygons
    • Environment and Camera settings to “sell it”
    • Adding and duplicating materials
    • Instancing materials
    • Controlling highlights
    • Blurry reflections
    • Subsurface scattering
    • Visibility settings
    • Use of image maps in lieu of modeling
    • Subsurface scattering
    • Gamma correction
    • Ambient occlusion to add edge detail
    • Preview Renderer
  4. MODO video by The Foundry

    Sample clip from the second segment of Shader Tree Essentials Video Tutorial.

  5. Video Segment 2

    Notebook Computer Product Shot

    This second video segment is a step-by-step creation of a final product shot from a pre-built model of a notebook computer. Particularly challenging areas are creating the brushed aluminum material, achieving a realistic screen reflection, and making the keys “pop” in the scene.

    Topics covered include:

    • Shader Tree organization
    • Multiple environments
    • Control over reflection
    • Use of light probe
    • Leveraging render outputs in Photoshop (e.g. colorization)
    • Global illumination
    • Anti-aliasing settings
    • ShadowCatcher to capture ground shadows
    • Adding directional lights
    • Render region
    • Noise elimination via render settings
    • Gamma control
  6. MODO video by The Foundry

    Sample clip from the third segment of Shader Tree Essentials Video Tutorial.

  7. Video Segment 3

    Riverbed Nature Scene

    In this third segment, we present a natural, organic setting as the setting. The scene is depicted at early morning, with nearly still water running down the stream and a colored mist rising from the wet ground. Scene complexity is radically increased at render time via the extensive use of MODO Replicators for rocks and leaves.

    Topics covered include:

    • Physically-based sunlight as environment
    • Shadow parameter adjustment
    • Boundary box mode to maintain interactivity
    • Group and Layer masks
    • Extensive use of image maps across scene with tiling
    • Creating water
    • Using Gradients and Weight maps to drive where rocks are replicated on streambed
    • Achieving mossy look on rocks
    • Stencil maps
    • Subsurface scattering
    • Gamma correction
    • Instance Replicators
    • Mist effect via Volumetric lighting
  8. New to the MODO Shader Tree? Watch this free video.

    MODO video by The Foundry

    If are not familiar with MODO Shader Tree functionality, this 23 minute video will arm you with the necessary basics before embarking on the Shader Tree Essentials Training Video.

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