How to: use blender eevee to showcase materials

The go to renderer for presenting materials is Marmoset Toolbag. I wanted to see how close I could get to the results of Marmoset Toolbag in Blender Eevee. In this article I will explain how I set it all up and show you that you can make some pretty cool renders of your materials in Blender Eevee.

Setting up the scene and material in Blender

I am using a UV Sphere here to demonstrate the process but you could of course replace it with a plane or a cylinder. However, you don’t have to do anything with the UV Sphere, it is already UV mapped and has enough geometry to be subdivided. Make sure to make it shade smooth.

The UV Sphere is perfect for a mat ball.

Now you want to setup the material in Blender. For this we will just be using the Principled BSDF. Plug in your textures like you normally would when setting up a material. Make sure that all the black and white textures are set to “Non-Color”. If you made an Ambient Occlusion map you can add this to the color map by using the “Mix” node, set it to multiply and set the factor to 1.000. When you have setup the material you can check the UV’s and see if you need to scale the UV’s out of the 0-1 space.

Simple node setup for a basic material.

Next you need to set up two modifiers: the Subdivision Surface and the Displace. In the Displace modifier you need to add your height map.

First set Coordinates to UV and lower the strength (0.1 strength usually works well for me if the height map is calibrated correctly). Next click on “New” Navigate to the checker icon at the bottom and click open. Navigate to your height map and load it in. In the Subdivision Surface modifier I set the level of subdivisions to 2 in the viewport and 4 or 5 in the render.

Finding where to add the displacement/height texture can be tricky sometimes.

Setting up the rest of the scene

Next thing you need to do is to add a camera and frame your sphere the way you want to. I like to put the camera straight on like the example below. I also add a background at the same time.

Setup of the scene.

Now it is time to add lights and an HDRI. In terms of lighting I like to keep it simple with a Sun light and one Point light. To add an HDRI you need to go to the shader editor and set it to “World”.

To add the HDRI texture go to the world setting and select “Environment Texture”. This will add a node to the shader editor where you can add the HDRI texture. Two good websites to get HDRI’s are: and

Selecting “Environment Texture” will make a node in the shader editor where you can add your HDRI.

Rendering the final image

Now it is time to render the final image. You’ll have to do some iteration and trial and error before you get it right. In my opinion you can get really close to what Marmoset Toolbag can do.

You can spice up the render a little bit by enabling Ambient Occlusion, Bloom and Screen Space Reflections in the render properties tab. With everything I render in Eevee I always add a sharpen node in the compositor. This adds that little bit of sharpen which makes it look much better in my opinion.

Adding a Box Sharpen adds that little bit of crispiness. Add a filter node and select Box Sharpen.

This is my final result with various different materials. All of these materials are from ambientCG:


Even though I am not a material artist myself I still think it is fun to see how far you can push Blender. I think Eevee can get pretty close to Marmoset Toolbag. I hope this article inspires you to try out Blender Eevee and render some materials. If you do feel free to sent or tweet them at me at @maartenjhof on Twitter.

To reiterate:

  • Select your display primitive, UV Sphere is perfect for mat balls.
  • Setup the material and the two modifiers: Subdivide and Displace.
  • Setup the scene with camera and background.
  • Add lighting and a HDRI.
  • Render the final image.
  • Add a little bit of sharpen in de compositor.

Also, I just launched a newsletter. You won’t be hearing from me every week because I just started out but I will promise to send valuable tips and tricks about environment art and 3D.

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