Creating a balloon shader for Blender Cycles


The idea for this picture is based on  a post by Benoit Bertand. I wanted to find out what I am capable of when it comes to realistic rendering and lighting.

The picture you can see below was created with Blender and rendered with Cycles. I did some minor post processing in Adobe Lightroom.

The geometry and the texture for the chair is based on a 3D model published by Hansen & Sons the producers of the CH 445 chair. But in this short article I want to write about how to create a realistic balloon/ rubber shader in Cycles. 🙂

rubber blender cycles

The typical aspects you have to consider when creating a shader for a balloon is the gradient effect. That means parts at the top and at the bottom seem to appear a bit darker to the human eye as the material isn’t stretched that much. Second the material is translucent but not transparent. Further more you can often see finger prints or leavings of talcum. I came a up with a result like this:



Let me show you the node setup.  Basically we have two mix shaders that mix a translucent and a diffuse shader together. These two materials are then mixed together with another Mix shader. As a factor we use a gradient map. To apply some nice reflections I use an add shader to mix all remaining, relevant shaders. Additionally you can see two more texture maps plugged into the node setup. Both have been provided by Benoit Bertand for his Vray shader. No need to worry, the gradient texture and the fingerprint texture, that influences the specularity, work also well with Cycles.

I am sorry I can’t post the gradient and the fingerprint map here, as I just don’t own the rights on those images. But you can download them for free from Turbosquid. (Note: You need to be a member at Turbosquid in order to download the sourcefiles)

Please visit the Cycles Wiki if you want to find more about shaders in Blender.

nodesetup balloon rubber shader cycles


curve modelling blender

For creating a balloon in Blender it’s best to start with a curve with a bevel object to create the knot and than model the other parts. It should also work with a curve with a bevel and a taper object. If you want do some basic balloon modelling go ahead and do so. There are thousand of thousand tutorials out there to demonstrate this process.

The fingerprint map for the balloon is provided by Benoit Bertand. For unwrapping I selected the sphere-like part and used the unwrapping function “UV-Sphere” with “View on Equator”. It worked best in terms of texture stretching.

rubber shader cycles

Well that’s basically it. Check out our other articles. If you have a question fell free to drop a comment. 🙂

Final image:



2 thoughts on “Creating a balloon shader for Blender Cycles

  1. Pingback: Markus Bilz

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