Astonishing Real-Time Skin Rendering (based on SSSSS)

Real-Time Skin Rendering - Screen-Space Subsurface Scattering (SSSSS)
Skin rendering, SSSSS enabled

This screenshot is just crazy! It comes from a real time demo about real time skin rendering advances.

What is SSSSS? Simply the short for Screen-Space Subsurface Scattering. SSSSS allows to run Subsurface Scattering (or SSS) and then skin rendering at interactive framerates in game environments. Thanks to SSSSS, skin calculations are done in screen resolutions (and not in texture resolutions) and the cost depends on the screen-space coverage: the smaller the head, the smaller the cost!

More information about SSSSS here: Screen-Space Subsurface Scattering.

This SSSSS algo is used in the DX11 Unreal Engine Samaritan demo.

And here’s the same view but this time with SSSSS disabled:

Real-Time Skin Rendering - Screen-Space Subsurface Scattering (SSSSS)
Skin rendering, SSSSS disabled

The public release of the source code of this demo (as well as the exe I guess) is planned for 2011 Q4.



  • 01 Vlatce

    OMG! The most realistic human image i ever seen!

  • Any links for the demos?

  • SMiThaYe

    Wow, now if most games were this quality I’d find it hard to get as much interest from movies again. I could imagine the brilliant Mass Effect series of games making great use of this. Hope it doesn’t become exclusive to one major GPU manufacturer as it seems most with a DX11 GPU should manage bar the lower-end.

    Zibri: Link ain’t available for demo til September as stated in article. With that quality on offer I’m happy to wait. 🙂

  • roger

    i like more the non sssssss image,, it looks less waxed … only nice thing of sssss one is the ear…imo…. keep it up 🙂

  • RTshaders

    Nice effect.That will be ideal if 3d video games can actually achieve such effect with high performance.But it is sort of clumsy to deal with SSS by
    “screen- spaced”technique which consume hardware resources.
    According to the screenshots from pracital application that is a far cry from the effect show on tech demo.

  • DrBalthar

    I’ll agree with Roger, the SSS effects are so suttle I don’t think it is worth. But I think it is mostly due that the light is shitty positioned if it would be coming from the back, the SSS would be more noticeable. Btw. 5xS (goes slightly out of control, too many Ss 😉

  • Peter

    Pretty good. I have implemented both the texture space version and SSSSS myself, but I do tend to like the texture space version more. I also believe the GPU Gems 3 skin still sets the high bar.

    In the screenshot above, I would tone down the very obvious lightprobe reflections a little. When its that easy to see which probe is used, and even how it is oriented, then its a little too much 🙂 Good work, though…

  • Peter


    The difference between this tech demo and the screenshots you post is (probably) only in the assets. The model in this demo is a quiet good 3D scan, with 6k by 6k texture maps! The model and textures in your postings are of much lower quality (not trying to be rude, just a fact)….

    Im just saying that this result could easily be in a game, IF the game wanted to spend that amount of resources on a single face.

    Anyhow, if you want fast and resonable skin shading in games, I suggest you look at E. Penners “Pre-integrated skin shader” that will also be presented at this years siggraph.

  • RTshaders

    Actually,there are quite a bif of demos,videos,screenshots in my DA website( have already had SSS effect.
    It is not an uphill work for me to handle SSS effect.I just spend less time on human skin shading.
    That was skin quick test in unity did today.

  • Panama

    To be honest I don’t see much of a difference when looking to the images here. However, in original images posted on his website the effect is not so subtle I think:

  • Squall Leonhart

    the SSS image is blurred.

  • DrBalthar

    Yep still not convincing, the only real subsurface effect you’ll see is at the left ear but you loose a lot of detail since the SSSSS one looks significantly more blurred.

  • roger

    maybe some front weighting ? anyway its awesome

  • atikkur

    the only thing ugly in this demo was the model. why not woman? anyway, good effect, gonna love sssssssss in the game!

  • NiMokh

    This scene was rendered in Softimage with ARNOLD. The render that we see above, is of the artist himself. Search for “UeberTage” in VIMEO. And watch this-

    “Softimage to ARNOLD plugin (SItoA) at “Softimage|UeberTage 2010″ (Part II)”

    49:00 is where you will find the rendering in progrees.

  • Veerendra

    What is difference between MSS and SSS