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Post news RSS How to render a realistic skin

Skin is something really hard to render in a realistic way. In this article we discuss an effect we found very helpful, Sub Surface Scattering.

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We already talked about our main character Jack, in these two dev blog posts:

In particular, in the second article, we talked about skin textures. We used 8 different layers to render the skin to obtain a more realistic effect.


Now, we want to go deeper into this topic, as we have something more to write about. This time we talk about the skin shader.

During the first stages of development, we tried the standard shader for the skin texture. You can see the result below:

skin-Standard Shader

It is surely good, but not what we had in mind. We then tried to use a skin shader called Pre-Integrated Skin Shader. It returns very good results, you can see it in action in the image below. We used the same pose to let you see the differences.

skin-Standard Skin Shader without sss

Ok, we are surely closer to what we imagined, but still there are not some details we wanted. We then decided to use Subsurface Scattering (SSS). It is the phenomenon of light penetration through translucent surfaces of an object. It takes into account the distribution of light waves in the materials that vary according to their properties and their outputs at various points of the object. Have you ever tried to cover a light with your hand? Light is reflected a number of times inside your fingers, giving them a “burning core” effect.


Adding the SSS to the Pre-Integrated Skin Shader, gives a very cool final effect. Take a look at the result.


You can clearly see that ears and eyes are far more realistic now, taking into account skin thickness and light reflections. Of course there could be something to improve visually but we found this is a good tradeoff between graphics and performances.

The game is currently under development and we’ll launch a Kickstarter campaign soon. We need YOU to complete the game, subscribe to our newsletter to know when to back the project! If you still have to watch the trailer, visit our website.


Very nice job on skin rendering. The result is very professional!
He reminds me of Clive Owen

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roccopaladino Author

Thank you very much! :-)
We'll launch the kickstarter really soon, so if you like the game, subscribe to our newsletter ( Rtc-game.com ) to be updated :)

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