Specular maps are the part of the Second Life materials system which allow us to create “shiny” objects. They determine how rough or smooth the reflections on a surface appear. In the photo above, the red ball has a high speculartity, with a small, focused specular reflection; the green ball has a low specularity, the surface appears to be a more matte, or satin like finish.
Creating the balls above was easy: I just applied a blank texture to the specular texture slot and adjusted the glossiness parameter. However, as you try to get more complicated looking effects using specular maps, you are likely to run into some complications that have given Second Life’s materials system a bad rap. I think the confusion stems from important settings being hidden away. Today we will take a look at these “secret” parts of the materials system.
Let’s start with some simple white tiles and add some realism using specularity: