With a small collection of references gathered it was time to begin the creation of my material.
Node Output Size: Another useful trick for speeding up your graph is to make use of the Output Size of individual nodes to reduce their scale relative to the rest of the graph. This is especially useful when you are creating inputs for a Tile Random node or Splatter node which take an input pattern. Often the resulting individual instances of the scattered input pattern will be smaller than the overall resolution of the graph. Therefore, you can reduce the scale of the input nodes to gain a few ms of render time. Another situation where this trick is useful is when using an input noise that may be blurred for any reason, such as the slope input to a Slope Blur Grayscale node. Reducing the resolution of the input noise can sometimes even negate the need for a blur.
You can see here that the resulting difference between the two outputs is extremely subtle. However, the first method using node scale clocks in at roughly 50ms, while the second approach takes nearly 80ms. The difference may be small, but it can add up to quite a processing time saving over a graph containing hundreds of nodes.
These three base thorn shapes are then used as pattern inputs of a Tile Sampler node. I set up the Tile Sampler to scatter the shapes pretty evenly across the canvas with a little bit of clustering and some slight scale variation.
The last step here is to frame up the nodes we’ve made to keep the graph organized.
Next, I add a tiny amount of noise with a couple of Gaussian Noise nodes set to different scales. Each is combined with the Malachite Base using a Blend node set to Copy and a low opacity. This will prevent the malachite rings that I’ll add later from being perfectly concentric, helping them look more organic. I copy the noiseless output from the Non-Uniform Blur back over this noisy version with a Blend node set to Copy in order to control more precisely the strength of these combined noise passes.
At this point, the graph diverges between the sections used for the cut malachite surface, and what will become the outer chrysocolla layer. So I’ll frame up the nodes added to the Malachite Shape before moving on to the Chrysocolla which I’m going to focus on first.
With the main shapes taken care of, it’s now time to start refining and detailing the surface of my Chrysocolla Heightmap. Be sure to frame this section up before moving to the next.