How to create a frosted glass material

In this tutorial I will show you 2 ways of making a frosted glass material in 3d max. The first part of the tutorial is focused on obtaining this type of material directly from the render. Although this part is especially written for 3ds max and vray, the same workflow can be applied to any other rendering software.

First method
1) The basic material settings.
Every time I have a glass material in a scene, I start with the following parameters:
a)    diffuse color – pure black
b)    reflection – a falloff map from black to white, set to FRESNEL
c)    refraction – pure white
d)    Index of refraction (“IOR”) 1.4
e)    Refraction “max depth” 7

If you hit a render at this stage you will have a clear glass material, like the one in the following rendering:

2) Controlling the sharpness of the refraction and reflection

As you can see both reflections and refractions are clear. You can now start by blurring the refractions. You control the sharpness by adjusting the glossiness parameter under “Refract”. A value of “1” for the glossiness produces crystal sharp refractions; by decreasing this value the refractions will become more and more blurry.
For this example, I think that a value of “0.95” is enough.

The refractions are now ok, but the reflections are still sharp.
You can adjust this in the same manner as you did for the refractions, by decreasing the glossiness parameter under “Reflect”.

The beauty of using this method is that you can control the reflection glossiness and the refraction glossiness separately; some types of frosted glass materials, although they have very blurry refractions, the reflections are quite sharp.

Here is a test I did with blurry reflections.

3) Controlling the color
If the frosted glass material that you need to obtain has a color tint, you can assign it by changing the “fog color” from white to whatever color you need.

Note: This has quite a high impact, so you need to use very bright and desaturated hues.
Bellow you will see 2 tests I did, with different values for the fog color:

4) Bump mapping
If the material you want to achieve has some bump pattern applied, just apply the desired bump map in the “bump” channel, and you’re done

Second Method

In the second part of the tutorial, we will go through a more versatile method of obtaining a frosted glass material that allows you to quickly change how the material looks, without having to render again.

Stay tuned!

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  1. jackieteh says:

    wow!great tutorial,just can’t wait to see your 2nd method,thank you.

  2. Thanks for the feedback!

  3. Nice. In Brazil render it would be in almost the same way. :)

  4. Nice job.
    But I’m used to work in MentalRay.

  5. oscar says:

    Hi there, I have a question. But before that, thanks for this couple of tutorials, they are very clear.
    Now… in which material are you doing all this? a blinn? a phong? is it already transparent or did you set a transparency value?

  6. I never use phong. I almost always use blinn and in some cases ward.
    Since you have asked about transparency, I assume you don’t work with vray. A pure white REFRACTION will give you 100% “transparency”

    Thanks for the visit, and hope to see you around more often.


  7. Cav says:

    Hi there, Im trying to follow along with this tutorial. I am quite new to this program, is it possible for you to go a little more indepth with the settings in step 1? I cannot find where to change the colour for things like Refraction/Reflection. I can choose maps…but I dont know which… If you could elaborate on it that would be awesome! Thanks :D And to chagne diffuse colour…do I do it at Maps? Or at the top at Shader Basic Parameters?

  8. Cav says:

    Sorry, I am also using 3DS Max 2010

  9. Hello Cav, and welcome!

    As I said at the beginning of the tutorial, this is for vray users. From what you have written I assume that you are not using vray renderer so in this case I’m afraid it won’t work for you.
    You can try mental ray (comes with max) and adapt the steps explained above to it. Unfortunately I don’t know much about mental ray so I can’t help you.


  10. Hayri says:

    Hey alex, could you be able to help me out on one of your previous tutorials.


  11. Just replied to your comment in that post :)

  12. Hie5 says:

    Hi, I am new to doing materials so I need a little help.

    I followed the first step (a) to set the diffuse to black. When I reach step (b), I clicked on the small grey box beside the “reflect colour box” and select the Falloff option, I ended up in the “fall off parameter” screen and can never go back to the screen where I can set the reflection/refraction values.

    What must I do the return back to the left screen of the first image shown on your tutorial?

    Thank you

  13. Hie5 says:

    Hi again,

    Please ignore the post above on not being able to get back to the screen to set the fog colour. I have resolved that by dragging the material slot to another new slot.

    The first render I did with the material turned out great when its a stand alone item. But when I tried placing a white box directly just behind the glass, I get this weird effect as shown in the image at this link:

    I do not understand why the effects showed up this way.

    Any tips to avoid this will be most delightful.

    Thank you

  14. Hello,

    First of all you can return to the main settings by pressing the arrow-like symbol on the right (just above where it says “Falloff” :)

    Regarding the strange effect in your example, I am not sure what exactly causes it, but I think it might be due to overlapping polygons (that is if you say that without the white box it worked fine).

    Hope this helped.


  15. Hie5 says:

    Hi Alex,

    Thanks for the response. You’ll have been a great help.

    Keep up the good work!


  16. Ramesh Chandra says:

    It is good tutorials for 3d max

  17. leon says:

    do you have tutorial for creating mirrors??

  18. chetan says:

    nice tutorial!!!! vl help others too..

  19. Darshan says:

    HI Very Nice Tutorial! Thank You…:)
    Can you help me to make some cool Brushed Materials in V-Ray?
    Thanks Again!

  20. Great Clear and best tut that i ever see! great work thank u ;)

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