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Sparkle Tutorial – Disco Ball by Xelus on Sketchfab

Earlier this week, I noticed that Ettienne Vorster’s new models Jewelry Set 01 and Exquisite Chandelier were insanely sparkly. He’s obviously hit upon a good Sketchfab trick. In this tutorial he reveals his secrets.

Etienne is known as Xelus here on Sketchfab. Don’t forget to check out his profile and his personal website!

This tutorial uses Blender, but you can use his approach with any 3D app.

Allright, it’s time to get your sparkle on!


My Name is Ettienne Vorster, and in this quick tip tutorial, I’ll be showing you how to create a shiny sparkling disco ball using Blender and Sketchfab.

Creating the model

First up, open your Blender and switch your render mode from Cycles to Blender Render. As Sketchfab understands Blender internal’s material setup, we’ll be using it to map the two materials we’ll need, to make the disco ball.

Step 01

Once you’ve switched to Blender render, go ahead and add a UV sphere. Add > Mesh > UV Sphere

Step 02

Once you’ve added the sphere, select it and press tab to go into edit mode. From here, select all the faces by pressing “A”. Once you’ve selected all of the faces, deselect both middle vertices on the top and bottom part of the sphere.

Step 03

Now that you’ve deselected them, press ctrl+b to bevel the faces, to create just a small edge around each of the faces and left-click to confirm the bevel.

Step 04

Once you have the bevel, we’ll be extruding these small faces inwards. Press “E” and immediately right-click, this will cancel the extrude direction, allowing us to now scale these faces inwards, in order to create the disco ball plates. Press “S” and drag your mouse slowly towards the sphere to scale the selected faces smaller.

Step 05

From here you can add a few more additions to your model if you wish, just remember, the parts that we want to add the “sparkle” effect to needs to always be set to solid. This will allow for the surfaces to reflect at different angles which would help us in getting a nice bright reflection at random times and angles, giving the “sparkle” effect. I’ve gone ahead and added some small diamond shaped models to my disco ball, all of the diamonds are set to solid, as I want them to reflect the environment.

Remember that you can set any surface as well as any object to “Shade Flat” or “shade Smooth”, by selecting your model, and pressing “T” in your 3D view to open the “Tools” menu. From here look under the “Shading” tab and click the “Flat” or “Smooth” button.

Step 06


Now that we have the small edges, we can go ahead and add two materials to the sphere. Our first material will be specifically for the edges we scaled down, and the second material will be for the reflective plates of the disco ball and my added diamonds.

Step 07

Once you’ve added the two materials, assign the first material to the inner edges we made, by clicking the “assign” button while having these edges selected.

Step 08

Assign the second material to the outer plates, by pressing ctrl+I, we can select inverse and immediately have the surfaces we want. Select the second material and press the “assign” button once more.

Step 09

If you have any other parts you added like I did, you can assign them a material depending on what you want to see happen with them, in my case, I’ve added the small diamonds, however I’ll let them use the same material as the plates, seeing as I want them to reflect the environment as well. Now that our disco ball has the right materials assigned to the right areas, we can go ahead and save this model as a .blend file in a folder of your choice.

Step 010 Optional I

Uploading to Sketchfab

We can now upload our model to Sketchfab and start working on our materials.

When uploading your models to Sketchfab, try to add as many relevant tags to your model. This helps people to find your model if they can’t for instance remember the name of the file, or if people generally just do a search. The more relevant tags you have, the more likely your model will appear in search results.

Step 012

Once our model is uploaded, we can then start to change a few settings in Sketchfab to make our disco ball shiny and sparkly. When it is complete, click the “Settings” button at the bottom right and select “3D Settings” from the pop-up menu.

Step 013

Sketchfab Material Editor

Our model is uploaded, and the right materials are assigned; now we can fine tune the materials in Sketchfab to get the result we’re looking for.

First off, we’ll need to set our “Environment” to an image of our choosing. This image will be our HDR image provided by Sketchfab, in order for us to be able to get the reflections we need. Click the “Environment” tab and select the button next to the tab’s name to turn the image on. From here we’ll select the “Tokyo BigSight” image from the drop–down menu. Depending on your connection will determine how quickly the image will load.

Step 014

Now that we have the environment image selected, we can switch over to the “Materials” tab at the top of the window. From here we’ll change our two materials to get the desired result we want.

Step 015

With our first material selected, we’ll need to change a few settings for the inner edges. As we only want the plates to reflect, we’ll need to lower the “Environmental Reflection” as well as the “Specular Color”, “Glossiness” and “Diffuse” to make this material appear more diffused.

Step 016

Now we’ll select the second material from the drop-down menu at the top of the material editor. This material will be the chrome-like material that will have a bright reflection that would help in getting the “sparkle” effect.

Step 017

Diffuse Color

Change the “diffuse color” to black, this will help the “Environmental reflection” to be more visible to the viewer.


Set the specular to max, on both the “Color” as well as the “Glossiness”. This will further increase the reflection as well as adding to the chrome look.

Environmental Reflection

Set this value to its maximum, this now gives a bright reflection to this specific material as seen below:

Step 018

Camera Effects

Sketchfab recently introduced some awesome new camera effects/filters, which can help you in getting the most out of your model. We’ll need a few of these camera effects in order to get the sparkle effect to work correctly.

Switch back to the “Scene” tab at the top of the window, and scroll down till you see a tab called “Camera Effects”. Expand this tab by left-clicking on the tab’s name. Once you’ve expanded the tab, just enable it by clicking the “OFF” button next to the name of the tab. Now in this menu we’ll be changing the following settings:

Chromatic Aberration – This going to help us to add that slight bit more greatness to the glow in general. This will be slightly visible as we don’t want a 3-tone color over the whole preview of our model.

Vignette – This will help in adding a slight bit more focus on our model, and make things look a bit better. (This is optional)

Bloom – This will be the glow effect that is added to bright surfaces. Changing the radius and intensity is what we’ll be focused on here. We won’t be worried about the threshold, as by default, it is sufficient enough to only add glow to the bright areas being reflected by the Environment Texture (HDRI) we added: Tokyo Big Sight

Setup your settings as follows:

Step 019

Chromatic Aberration:

  • 15


  • Amount: 47.5
  • Hardness: 32


  • Intensity: 9
  • Threshold: 15
  • Radius: 0

There you have it. You can take a screenshot for the model thumbnail, save your settings and set your model to public, and share it with the world. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you next time.

This quick tip tutorial was written by Ettienne Vorster.


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