Chrome texturing

Everyone knows what chrome looks like, but how do you make a chrome texture for use on your 3D models. I recently ran into this question while modeling a pool ladder, though you also often find chrome on cars.

So what are its properties? It is somewhat simpler than one might imagine. Make it reflective. 100% reflective. That’s the only real thing to know when setting up the texture, but if you would just render your chrome item alone, it would just match your background color and not look like chrome at all. That is because it is reflective. We need to have a whole setup of a world around it for it to reflect. If you are going to have a detailed enough environment all around the chrome eventually anyway, you won’t have to worry about this. Otherwise, you will need to add some pictures out of frame for the chrome to reflect.

Optimally,  you should put a picture of an environment that is similar to the one your item would be in, but that isn’t essential at all. These out-of-frame pictures won’t be seen in your renders, but they will be seen reflected on the chrome object to give it that real chrome look.

There is another important detail though. Your chrome item should not be flat. Chrome should be used on curvy or cylindrical items only, otherwise you are going to end up with just a plain mirror. Curvy chrome items will give the reflection a distorted realistic look as it matches the contours that we are all use to seeing on chrome. If you think of where chrome is used in real life, it is usually on a nice curved or rounded surface. Imitating real life is what you need to do to get that realistic chrome look.