Type Property


Shading based on a realistic abstraction of physical lights and materials.


static let physicallyBased: SCNMaterial.LightingModel


Physically-based shading incorporates a refined model of the interactions between real-world lights and materials. Using modern GPU hardware and algorithms, this model can produce more realistic results than the loose abstractions of traditional shading, while also offering a set of material properties that is easier for artists to work with. Especially when combined with environmental lighting (see the SCNScene lightingEnvironment property) and high dynamic range cameras (see the SCNCamera wantsHDR property), physically-based shading can produce realistic results similar to those seen in recent animated feature films.

Physically based shading relies primarily on three material properties:

  • The diffuse property (called albedo in some authoring tools) provides the “base” color of a material.

  • The roughness property (inverted and called smoothness in some authoring tools) is an approximation of the microscopic detail in a real-world surface. By approximating these “microfacets” as a single term, this property helps produce lighting calculations that resemble the energy-conserving laws of real-world physics, resulting in more realistic variation between matte and shiny surfaces.

  • The metalness property approximates other aspects of a physical surface, such as index of refraction, tendency to produce sharp reflections, and tendency to produce Fresnel reflections at grazing angles, which together produce an overall metallic or nonmetallic (also called dielectric) appearance.

In addition, you can add surface detail to a physically based material with the normal and ambientOcclusion properties, and modulate the contribution of environmental lighting with the selfIllumination property.

Physically based materials ignore the ambient, specular, and reflective material properties and the shininess, fresnelExponent, and locksAmbientWithDiffuse parameters.