Blender Cycles Tutorial : Stone & Marble, How To Make Any Texture

Posted by Aidy Burrows on January 25th, 2015 | Comments (14)

●  Create a procedural Stone texture (No UV’s)

●  Easily convert it to Marble and give it a tint.

●  Fundamentals of Art

●  Fundamentals of Textures

●  Resources

Download tutorial blend file Stone/Marble shader.



That’s a pretty big claim isn’t it!? I was considering backing out of that claim pretty early but I think we’re all reasonable people here. I think we know this is going to be about fundamentals with a rock solid example (sorry, pun intended) rather than a literal breakdown of every texture you could possibly make! Though i’d quite like to see that tutorial too.


Not us!! Today we’re talking procedural texturing! That means whatever the shape of the object these textures should work.


Going to an image site like pixabay or cg textures is really handy if you can find the texture you’re looking for. Great for reference and if it’s seamless or you don’t mind spending the time making it seamless then why not use it on the model instead of all this procedural complexity?

Well I’m not saying don’t do that, photosourcing is still very useful and always will be, especially for grunge and other aspects of an image that you might want to add in.

Doing it without or with barely any photographs is an exercise in understanding and recreating the world around us allowing us to get a deeper appreciation. It’s a little like the same reasons for life drawing only for textures.

Then you have more control and ability when it comes to that moment when photographs aren’t going to help you out.

 blender cycles photo stone comparison

So what is that essence of art? What are those aspects of an image that we can control to help steer attention and make the statement as artists we want to make? Well there are quite a few, here’s just a couple of the most powerful ones….

Contrast Color Art Fundamentals

 Without contrast or color the focus or ‘point’ of the image is kind of unclear. With contrast we can draw attention to the foreground and separate it from the background. With color you can enhance and alter the mood even further.

So you can break down what’s going on in an image in many ways, here’s just some…

●  Contrast

●  Color

●  Light

●  Shape

●  Perspective

●  Rhythm

●  Context

Ever looking for a way to enhance your art? Look through that list and make sure you have something to say about each one. Is there anything accidentally diluting the message or vibe of what you’re trying to communicate?

So how are we going to apply this mode of thinking to textures?

We can breakdown a texture in a similar way first by thinking about frequencies. In the same way audio can have low bass frequencies and high pitched frequencies so can an image.


frequencies optical illusion


If you haven’t seen this illusion before the idea is that close up it looks like Einstein and if you shrink it right down or move far away you’ll see it’s Marilyn Monroe. It’s the frequency of the images that give us the separation there. We’re looking at just the high frequencies of Einstein and the low frequencies of Marilyn Monroe.
















Here are some other aspects of an image we can use to help breakdown what we’re looking at…


breaking down a texture

●  Low Frequency

●  High Frequency

●  Shapes

●  Patterns

●  Color

●  Weathering (Dirt/Scratches/Cracks)

●  Highlights & Shadows

●  Reflections




Let’s get to work and put all this into practice building a procedural stone texture. For building Cycles shaders you’ll find the starting blend file that I use here - Cycles Shader : Prime Elements. This gives me most of the things I find myself needing to create every time I start a shader. A tutorial with more information can be found here…


cycles shader giveaway thumbnail



 Stone Low frequency noise texture node


First up it’s that simple noise texture node with default settings going through a colorRamp node. The ramp is reducing contrast by having the lowest black level lighter and the highest white level darker therefore reducing the range. Note the vector information is coming out of the clean vector you’ll see more in the next image…



musgrave texture node

Note the distortion value i’ve highlighted with a white rectangle, we don’t really need the blur section here as none of those nodes are actually doing anything right now, in fact we could delete them. I have them here just in case. The little preview windows attached to the musgrave texture and the add node are showing what the musgrave texture is doing and how the texture looks so far.



 high frequency noise textures

For the high frequencies it’s pretty simple. That colorRamp just before the final node there is just to allow the highest frequency (noise scale 200) to pop out a bit more. Otherwise it’s getting lost in the brighter frequencies that are already there.


For some weathering detail like scratches, cracks and veins we can use the cycles crack group node from a previous tutorial. You can find that tutorial by clicking on the image. For a link to the required blend file click here.

Blender Cycles Tutorial Cracks Thumbnail

procedural cycles cracks settings

TIP : I’m keeping it pretty simple in this tutorial however I would encourage you to add a high scale noise texture that breaks things up a little, also the resulting veiny pattern can then be used as a mask to drive some other lighter texture that is being added onto the texture so far.


So far the texture is just black and white, so putting that through a colorRamp node and remapping the greyscale to a color scale is what we want. Here i’ve just color picked from the stone reference image and then been careful to make sure the value figures (HSV setting) are roughly what they were before I color picked.

Blender ColorRamp node


This section is a bit optional but should you be able to take advantage of it we can build up some dirt in the nooks and crannies. Plus we can create some worn looking edges too. For a model to take advantage of this it’ll need to have been modelled accordingly. That mostly means just having supporting edgeloops near sharp edges.

Also this is dependent on having 2 color sets though which you can see in the yellowy orange headed attribute nodes. The results of these are on the right of each half of the frame. The grunge is multiplied onto the main texture and the worn edges are added. TIP! As before with the cracks using these as masks to drive the balance between textures instead would crank the results up a notch here.

blender worn edges and grunge


 With the texturing basically finished we need to give this some effective shading. Here you’ll see a bump node going into the 3 normal inputs of the reflection frame. The colorMix node directly before the bump node is driving the height. The first socket is the low frequency and musgrave mix that we’ve already seen, and overlaid onto this is the second high frequency node set at a scale of 60.

blender bump node end shader

blender cycles bump settings


One final touch is to take this and tweak it to serve as another similar surface. So here I’ve added a colorMix node which is overlaying green. The bump node is now doing nothing as i’ve unplugged all those goes into the normal sockets. Then i’ve cranked up the reflection settings. Both the amount of fresnel that’s going through and the overall amount of reflection. This is done by increasing the brightness of the first socket on the colorMix node right before the mix shader. TIP! Rather than just a single color giving a uniform distribution across the object try putting a noise texture through here to add extra variation!

highly polished stone marble cycles shader


blender tutorial cycles stone



Tutorial blend file Stone/Marble shader.

For reference textures try pixabay

Huge library of textures here CG Textures, in fact this is the stone image used as reference in this tutorial. 

Prime elements shader.

Cracks node group.

Image Based Lighting free HDRi archive HDRLabs


If you manage to create any cool procedural textures, please let me know! Many thanks! – Aidy. :)

Suggested Videos/Related Content >

Blender Cycles Tutorial Cracks Thumbnail

cycles shader giveaway thumbnail

coins tiling textures in blender thumbnail

This tutorial makes use of some audio from here..
Scratch : by raccoonanimator
“Who Likes to Party” Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

  • Jim Tan

    Nice. Small suggestion: you can further improve the texture by adding directional weathering. Erosion at the top, sedimentation towards the bottom. Hope it helps.

    • Aidy Burrows

      Thanks Jim! Directional weathering would be a great addition! Nice suggestion! :) Aidy.

  • Marc Clint Dion

    The illusion didn’t work for me until I hovered over the timeline to go back and see what I was missing and then noticed the timeline icon. On a fairly large screen it’s not really obvious at first. Once it’s shrunk down though it’s absolutely amazing! Thanks! it was worth watching just for that part.

    • Aidy Burrows

      Glad you liked it Marc!!! :) Aidy.

  • alex saplacan

    If I have a biger object, let’s say a 30 meters wall, do I have to scale the mateial? Great show!

    • Aidy Burrows

      Hi Alex! Thanks for the comment! Yes you do have to think about the level of scale that you’ll see or are working towards, a 30 meter wall would need another couple of low scale noise textures as the detail would be pretty simple so a simple noise going through a colorRamp should do it. Using that basic principle should be fine at that larger level. Then it’s a matter of balance contrast of each level of noise detail until you like the result. Always go with reference so you know what kind of surface you’re aiming for. As you’ll know there are lots of different types of stone let along brick, concrete, rust etc. Hope that helps! :D Post your experiments here or on blender artists and give me a link i’d love to see if you get anything you like. :D

      Aidy :)

  • misspianoforte

    How did you filter out the low and high frequency data of the original images?

    • Aidy Burrows

      That’s a good question, I think someone asked us that on Facebook too, I should probably have updated this to include that somewhere.

      Bare in mind that I ran those filters just to really help talk about how to illustrate the aspects of the image I was trying to break down. I don’t think doing that is a necessary step, but I guess it may help in some images thinking about it. :)

      Getting the low frequency was just putting the image through gaussian blur, (I did those in Gimp by the way) The high frequency is a high pass filter in photoshop or if you don’t have access to that then you can use Gimp by putting a 5 px blur of the image with a blend mode of grain extract above an unblurred layer.

      The colors and shapes was basically tweaking the smart blur or surface blur depending on the software. Hope that makes sense!!!


  • John in Hillsboro

    Please tell about those little preview windows. I cannot find them. is that because they are part of some add in?
    If so I imagine it’s not one of the free ones.
    How do I add one and will they work with any node or only certain ones?
    If this information is covered in a different tutorial please indicate which one.
    If it is not already covered somewhere else please consider making a tutorial for it.

    • Aidy Burrows

      Hi John!

      Unfortunately those little preview windows are something that I added myself in post production to help explain what was going on, though I do believe something similar is on the cards for actually adding that feature into the node editor at some point.

      I will try to remember to jump back here on your comment if and when that happens to let you know. :)


  • John In Hillsboro

    Thank you !
    I think somebody used some sort of a preview window in a tutorial on the node Wrangler but there was nothing about how to actually use the thing. but I’ll have to watch more tutorials on that.
    I’m kind of surprised that they never included that in the cycles nodes in the first place since I already had one in the layers nodes and it was very useful

    • Aidy Burrows

      oh right, perhaps I may have misunderstood, just in case yes there is the node wrangler addon as you say which can be enabled in the user preferences, to hook it up to a ‘viewer’ you would do the same as in the compositor which is to ‘ctrl and shift’ click on the node. The viewer is then just a temporary emit shader that is setup. More shortcuts for it can be found here…

      Hope that helps in any case! :) Aidy.

  • john in Hillsboro

    No, apparently I am the one who misunderstood.
    I saw something somewhere that led me to believe that there is an actual node available that can be hooked up to the output of other nodes which would give you a rough idea of what they are doing, Just like the windows that you provided, except actual deals.

    The FAQ only cover the Tutorial DVD’s.
    There is nothing about whether or not you ever accept requests for doing tutorials.
    so I’m going to turn in a couple of requests as I believe that they would help other people as well as me.
    #1: How do you go about modeling a sweater? the kind where the knitting is very visible (Large loops and coarse yarn)
    And rib knit didn’t and cable knit.
    How can this be accomplished without ending up with a polly-count so high that blender crashes?

    #2: I recently heard about render,
    but it seems to be down and apparently has been for quite a while and presumably will not be back.
    Are there currently any other free Farms out there or have they all gone away by this time? and how would you go about using one if it is there ?

  • CalMc

    Thanks so much for the excellent tutorial! I’ve wanted to learn to use nodes for a long time,
    but was intimidated by all the “spagetti”. But I think your teaching will get me over the
    “fear of noding”. =)