Digital Emily skin shader setup using regular V-Ray materials and AlSurface Shader

I’ve been required to do skin shaders in V-Ray from time to time at work and I usually like to start with the data provided by Digital Human League for the Wikihuman Project as a reference. You can find the available data here: It’s a set of textures captured at the ICT Lightstage of an actress named Emily and the data set is referred to as Digital Emily. For Maya users there’s a Maya scene included, prepared with lights and shaders just ready to render. However, if you’re not just using it as it is and perhaps want to use the shaders as a starting point for your own project the setup is not ideal as it relies on plugin materials instead of the regular materials in V-Ray. For example the SSS shader looks like this:

I would much rather have a VRayFastSSS2 material instead and a VRayMtl for the specular components. It’s fairly straight forward to convert these plugin materials to regular materials. I’m happy to share my Maya scene with my already converted shader setup. Just write a comment in the section below. This shader setup is a pixel perfect match with the plugin material setup and the results looks like this:

I think the results are quite nice, but there’s some parts of the SSS I don’t like. The glowing parts around the nose for example. And the shader setup is quite complex with four different materials blended together. The node tree looks like this:

With the release of AlSurface Shader in V-Ray there’s a possibility to get even better result within one single shader using the same textures. Here’s a blog post from Digital Human League about this topic: Here they use the Digital Mike data set, but that’s not publicly available as far as I know. They describe briefly how to use the AlSurface shader instead but doesn’t go into detail. It’s fairly straight forward, but there are some potential pitfalls. First of all you need to invert the single scatter map. You can either use an external program, like Nuke, but the easiest way is to use a Reverse node in Maya. Another thing that needs to be inverted is the Reflection Roughness values compared to the Glossiness values in the VrayMtl. For example 0.2 insead of 0.8 and so on. Here’s the settings I ended up with:

Once again, as I’ve already done a conversion and have a prepared Maya scene I’m always happy to share it if someone’s interested. Here’s the result using the AlSurface Shader.

It took a bit longer to render but I like the result more. I think the SSS feels more realistic now and have less of the glowing effect from the other setup.

  1. gu

    really good

  2. Bob

    Great results, and thanks for sharing!

  3. Joseph Liu

    Really good, would love to see the Maya scene. thanks!

  4. Dim

    Thanks for sharing this awesome article! Would you be able to share the Maya scene if it is possible. Thank you in advance!

  5. Gavin

    Thanks for the tutorial. You mind sharing the scene? Been having trouble with the specular aspect

  6. Will

    Really great work Magnus!
    Thanks for the tips! Would you mind sharing the scene? it would be much appreciated.

  7. Awesome work Magnus,

    I came from wikihuman, I read and tried to recreate everything from scratch, I am making my own database, could you share the scene?

  8. Max

    Thanks for the tips And Great results, You mind sharing the scene?!

  9. UltraEdge

    Really good, One question is: How do we apply normal maps and dismaps in the same way as SSS shaders? Thank you for sharing the scene file and I hope you have a good day.

  10. James Hamilton

    Very interesting thanks for posting, definitely learned a thing or two. I would also like to check out the Maya scene please….Thank you!

  11. Jeanne

    This is really helpful, I’m currently trying out skin materials in Maya. Do you mind sending the scene file? Thank you!

  12. Mike

    Really great work Magnus!
    Can you share the scene file?


  13. Would love to see the scene file 🙂 Curious what settings you have at the top of the material in the general section. Also what your maps are like, especially the map in the SSS mix!

    Thank you!

  14. Irul

    Very helpful tutorial ! May i see your scene file for research purposes thanks

  15. Jason

    Hi magnus

    Thanks for the tutorial. Would you mind sharing the scene?

  16. Vanderstelt studio

    Would love also to see the scene file. Love the results!

  17. Vanderstelt studio

    Amazing. Been looking high and low for a solution like this! Would LOVE to see your scene file : )

  18. Jerry Vanderstelt

    Love the results! I have trying with no such luck. The scene file would be a great start, as I have Maya and Vray !

  19. Intressant


  20. Joel Champ

    Hi. Not sure if you still help with this article, but I’d love to have a look at the scene file if available. Cheers

  21. Nat

    Hi magnus,
    Thanks for the tutorial.

    Great results, You mind sharing the scene with me?

  22. kwang

    Hello Magnus

    Could you please share the scene?

    Thank you

  23. Hello Magnus

    thank you sharing the great info

    can u please share the scene

    thank you

  24. Harshit Poddar

    Hi Magnus,
    I don’t know if you’re still active or not. But I would love to have the scene file if it’s still available!


Leave a Reply

Privacy Preference Center