Blender 3D: Noob to Pro/Creating Basic Seawater

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[ed. note: Need a much more basic introduction to what materials, textures, maps, and all the accompanying terms are with illustrative examples before diving into a specific sea-water example. Much more effective learning when you know what you're changing.]
Settings for the seawater material

75% of the Earth's surface is covered with water. In homage to this great fact, we will develop your materials skills first by creating basic seawater.

Create 3 linked planes[edit | edit source]

First we create a new file in Blender and delete the default cube by pressing XKEY and confirming the popup dialog. Now switch to top view with NUM7 and enter SPACE > Add > Mesh > Plane to create a plane. Then scale it up to 20 its original size with the SKEY the way you've already learned in one of the earlier tutorials. Go to the side view with NUM3 and duplicate this plane two more times using Alt-D (not Shift-D), moving the plane down on the Z axis by two grid spaces each duplicate. This will make the transparency of the water more realistic once we set it. Using Alt-D rather than Shift-D makes a linked duplicate, so that the changes we make to one plane effect the other two.

Create material[edit | edit source]

Now off to the actual texturing work. Select any one of the planes and press F5 to bring up the Material Buttons in the Buttons Window. You will probably find two new small windows appearing here: one called Links and Pipelines and the other one Preview.

(Noob note: A new section has been added for Blender 2.63 users after this section.)

Click the 'Add New' button in the 'Links and Pipelines' tab to create a new material named `Material.001' or so. To make life easier we'll rename it to something meaningful like 'Seawater' by simply clicking it and typing in the letters, as shown here (SHIFT+DELETE in field to clear):

Now, on the same tab, give the seawater material a color of RGB (0.100, 0.310, 0.435). Find the tab that reads 'Mirror Transp' and click it. Click on 'Ray Mirror' and 'Ray Transp'. For the "Ray Mirror" box, move the 'RayMir' slider to 0.3, the 'Fresnel' slider to 2.5 and the Depth to 5. For the 'Ray Transp' box, move the 'IOR' slider to 1.33, the 'Fresnel' slider to 2.0 and the Depth to 5. This will give the water realistic transparency and reflection. Also click the 'Shaders' tab, change 'CookTorr' to 'Blinn', move 'Spec' to 2.000, 'Hard' to 180 and 'Refr' to 10.000. This will make the water look more glossy.

Now we'll add a procedural texture to our seawater, which will give it a "wavy" look. Click the Texture button (looks like bricks) or press F6 to view the texture buttons subcontext. Click on the knob to the left of the texture name and select the "Add New" button. This creates a new texture named "Tex.001" or so. Click on the name and change it to "Waves".

Go to the Texture Type pull-down (F6) and select 'Clouds'. On the Clouds tab change 'NoiseSize' to 0.050. Our Waves texture is ready; next, we will refine how it is applied to our Seawater material.

Noise Size increases the size of the noise, in this case, the clouds. Soft Noise blends the intensities and reduces the contrast. Makes a mellow effect, like soft waves. Hard noise creates a high contrast, and brings out individual 'shapes'.

If you want to add more detail to your water, add another texture and rename it to "LargeWaves". Make it a cloud texture like the previous one, but make it's 'NoiseSize' 0.300 and use 'Hard noise'.

The final rendered image

Left click on the Materials button (looks like a red sphere) to return to the material buttons subcontext. Look at the Texture panel, and you'll see that the "Waves" texture has been automatically associated with the Seawater material.

Select the 'Map To' tab. Click the 'Nor' and 'Spec' buttons so they're selected and have white text (the white text indicates a positive mapping). Click the 'Hard' button twice so it's selected and has yellow text (the yellow text indicates a negative mapping). Click the 'Col' button so it is not selected, this button will show any color in the texture which we do not want. Find the 'Nor' Slider and move its value to about 5.00.

If you created the "LargeWaves" texture, select the "LargeWaves" texture under 'Texture and Input', go to the 'MapTo' tab, deselect 'Col', select 'Nor' and move the 'Nor' slider to 7.00. Do not select 'Hard' or 'Spec' this time.

For lighting press Space > Add > Lamp > Sun. You shouldn't need to move the sun or change any of its settings. Finally move the camera to the edge of the plain and move it up towards the sky a bit.

Go to the Scene tab (F10), and look for the six buttons next to the big render button. Deselect all these, leaving only the 'Ray' button selected. This will tell Blender not to render some features in our scene that we really don't need. Go and press F12 to render the water, it may take a while depending on your system.

Admire your water, and maybe drink a tall glass of something refreshing!

Create Material / Textures (Blender 2.63)[edit | edit source]


  • Go to the properties window (Bottom right window by default) and click on the Material tab
  • Click of the + symbol to create a new material and name it Seawater
  • Click on the diffuse color box and give it a seawater blue RGB (0.100, 0.310, 0.435)
  • Enable the Mirror checkbox
  • In the Mirror section, set Reflectivity: 0.3, Fresnel: 2.5 and Depth: 5
  • Enable the Transparency checkbox
  • In the Transparency section, click the Raytrace button
  • Also in the Transparency section, set IOR: 1.33, Fresnel: 2 and Depth: 5
  • In the Specular section, use the pull-down menu to change CookTorr to Blinn, then set Intensity: 1, Hardness: 180 and IOR: 10


  • Still in the Properties window, click on the Textures tab
  • Click on the “+ New” button to create a new texture and name it Waves
  • Set the Type: Clouds using the pull-down menu
  • In the Clouds section, set Size: 0.05 to create soft noise
  • In the Influence section, uncheck Color under Diffuse, then under Specular, check the "Specular" box and “Hardness” box then set the value to Hardness: -1. Under Geometry, check the “Normal” box and set the value to Normal: 5

(Noob Note: V. 2.78 Under Mapping change coordinates to Generated.)

  • Select the second line in the Textures list and create a second Texture using the “+ New” button. Name it LargeWaves
  • Set the Type to clouds again, but this time, set Size: 0.3 in the Clouds section and click on the "Hard" button for hard noise
  • Deselect “Color” and under Geometry, select the “Normal” box and set the value to Normal: 7

(Noob Note: V. 2.78 Under Mapping change coordinates to Generated.)


  • In object mode, select the default lamp (if present) and delete it
  • Create a new lamp by pressing ALT+A and selecting Lamp --> Sun
  • Place the Sun in the sky by moving it up the Z-axis. Press G, Z, 20 and hit ENTER
  • Go back to the Properties window and click on the World tab
  • Click on the box under Horizon Color and set the color to RGB (0.242, 0.617, 0.831) for sky blue
  • Position the camera to be looking over the water with some sky visible and render your scene.
  • How about using what we have learned in previous modules to add some dolphins swimming just below the surface?

The final rendered image

Extra Practice[edit | edit source]

This tutorial might also help you make even more realistic water: Link