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Review: CGC Hardwood Shader Collection


Ethan J. Biller takes a hard look (pun intended ;-) at the Hardwoods material pack on the Blender Market. Read more BlenderNation reviews here.

CGC Hardwoods is a collection of 17 shaders for the Cycles render engine. The purpose of this shader pack is to provide the user with photo-realistic, true-to-life wood shading within minutes.
The basis of the shader is entirely procedural, meaning that no UV mapping is required for this shader to work on your objects. Speaking in terms of organization these shaders are brilliantly designed: each shader features a summing up of basic features on the top of each shader-group which allows the end-user to quickly set up different styles of wood.


With this pack you get 20 presets: some of the most common wood types are included: Cedar, Mahogany, Maple, Oak, Rosewood, and Walnut, as well as different finishes for the species: gloss, semi-gloss, and raw. This affords an awesome amount of flexibility in the presets alone, without even digging through the shader settings; and keep in mind: this pack only costs 50.00 USD- which amounts to 2.50 USD for each preset shader! That even beats Metalworks' price of 4.00/shader. When considering the amount of time saved by using this shader as opposed to creating it, (impossible even, for most users), you can plainly see the deal that you’re getting.

Preview of all of the shaders



How do you use a pre-made shader? You append it into your Blender scene, add it to your object and hit render. Well, not quite- there's a small bit of prep that must be done in order to achieve satisfactory results from these presets. Because this shader is, as Kent Trammell puts it: "physically-based"; it attempts to shade whatever object you apply it to as if it actually came out of a tree. The simple explanation: you have to flip the object on the X-axis 90 degrees (in Edit Mode). Kent goes over this (as well as all the shader’s other settings) very well in his video demonstration, which can be seen at the product page over on the Blender Market.

After you get your object oriented correctly however, you can very easily jump into the shader and slide around a few settings. Even with just changing a few things slightly it's possible to change the look of the wood to how you want it. Moving in deeper, however, we can tap the "Tab" key to enter "Level 2" of the shader, which unlocks 30+ additional settings for more advanced users to fiddle with. If you decide to go any farther than that, though, you'd be hitting the boss level, in which survival isn't guaranteed.


Of course, the most important part of any shader is the amount of realism you would get from it in any given scene. So let me start by noting that these shaders are incredibly large, as compared to the simplistic Diffuse/Glossy/Fresnel a lot of users are pre-adjusted to. This usually (as in my case) means that pre-render build times will be longer due to the amount of nodes Blender has to compress. This being said, the base "CGC_Hardwood" shader that Kent has pulled these wood varieties out of cleans up incredibly fast in rendering. In one of my test scenes, (pictured below), with just an emission plane and an HDRi, I was getting relatively noise-free results with very low sample values (15~20). The shader also reacts very well to different lighting situations, a must for any professional-grade material pack.


Wow. That’s a lot of hard-hewn lumber on that deck, sir.

Note: Please keep in mind that even if I was to make test images for the next 3 weeks I couldn't come close to using this shader's full possibilities, so please don't judge the shader based on my humble images alone.

Product page

CGC Hardwood Shader Collection sells on the Blender Market for $49.


7.6 Awesome

CG Cookie has successfully created and marketed this for what it is: an incredibly detailed shader that is a must for any nature scene, or even just wood renders in general. So, hand shakes and back-pats all around for a job well done, guys!

  • Flexibility 9
  • Realism 8
  • Value for Money 7.5
  • Speed of Use 6
  • User Ratings (6 Votes) 8.3

About the Author

Avatar image for Ethan J. Biller
Ethan J. Biller

Currently based in the U.S.A, Ethan Biller is a freelance generalist, (CGI odd job man), with a 4 year history in Blender, and a 10 year history in the digital arts. When not hunched over the computer, he can be found taking extended walks in the rain.

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