Blender has come a long way! You can create a lot of amazing renders for glass, metal, rubber etc… Here’s a test scene that I put together that didn’t take much work. However, to make things look unique and creating real world materials, with stains, scratches, and many imperfection that we see in the real world, is an art in itself.
I don’t see myself specializing in this area. It takes a lot of work! I have seen some samples of the node trees that people put together to create a specific material (all done procedurally), and it’s like a programming language—the logic and math that went behind it boggles my mind.
My focus is mainly on concepting and the art side of things. I don’t focus that much on the technical side of art such as the Node system of Blender. However, it’s still good to know how things work, and to know enough to make a few changes here and there. But for more advanced looking procedural materials, I would definitely go down the route of purchasing them from those that are specialized in this area.
With that said, here are a few resources that I find helpful to give you an idea of how the Node system works. Knowing how it works will help you to create non-procedural materials (less technical compared to procedural). This knowledge will help you later down the road if you do get into compositional nodes:
- Beginners guide to cycles nodes, the procedural way by Joakim Tornhill
- Advanced Materials in Blender 2.80 | Shader Editor Tutorial
- How to Use Blender’s New “Ultimate” Shader: The Principled BSDF
- Blender Tutorial: Creating Custom Nodes
- Procedural Textures – Blender 2.80 Fundamentals
Learn by Examples
- Using Procedural Textures in Blender
- Blender – Procedural Rust in Blender 2.8 Nodes
- Blender – Procedural Lava Shader in Blender 2.8
- Blender – Stylized Gradient Shader in Blender 2.8
- Blender- Surface Imperfections Tutorial (Procedural Shading)