I am basically a developer. I just want to know the difference between diffuse and texture.

My assumption (as a new to 3D game development), from what I read is that diffuse is the texture applied to a surface/3d model which is used to render the surface/model. If this is correct then diffuse and texture are synonyms.

Please help me understand the differences if there are any

  • 3D rendering questions are off topic for this SE site, but, I believe, 'diffuse' refers more to atmospheric and lighting effects, while texture is a pattern on the surface of an object. – DA01 Nov 5 '12 at 8:30
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    i think my question falls into graphic theory which is allowed per faq – Dev Leading Artists Nov 6 '12 at 7:33
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    "Diffuse" is a vague term. I think the question you are asking is about "diffuse map" vs "texture map"? – e100 Nov 6 '12 at 9:44

Diffuse is best described as the raw color channel of a 3D object, a texture is a 2D image file that can be wrapped onto an object, usually by UV mapping. Often the texture node is plugged into the diffuse channel to create the color of the object (like wrapping a present), however you can also plug a texture into other channels like displacement, reflection etc.

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  • so it means diffuse is a property of a 3d object and texture is its data? – Dev Leading Artists Nov 6 '12 at 7:31
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    Actually, to clarify, diffuse is a property of a shader. A shader is applied to the 3D geometry/object to give it a surface. There are many types of shaders to accomplish different types of surfaces (shiny/reflective vs matte vs advanced skin, glass or car shaders). Each shader has varying properties, most contain a property called diffuse. You can plug a texture partnered with a texture node, (which determines how it is stretched/wrapped) can then be plugged into any property of the shader. – John Nov 6 '12 at 14:41
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    would it be more correct to say that diffuse map is a texture used to define the color(s) of something in the absense of lighting? (or rather with a neutral, idealized, medium lighting without cast shadows) – horatio Nov 6 '12 at 17:29
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    Under neutral light, I agree with horatio. But note, a texture is not always a diffuse map, it only becomes a 'diffuse map' when it is plugged into the diffuse slot of the shader. It could just as easily be a 'bump map' or a 'reflection map' for example. – John Nov 6 '12 at 21:41

From my understanding, texture is more of a broad term that can be dissected into multiple categories such as bump texture, specular texture, etc. And diffuse textures/maps are simply the color and pattern combination on something.

For example, if you searched up a brick pattern on Google, that could be considered a diffuse texture. Please keep in mind that if it's a "map" that means it can be spread out over a 3D object.

If it's a texture that could just mean it's one plain 2D image not wrapped around anything.

Yes, I am aware this thread is from 2012 but for anyone who runs into this later. I hope it helps.

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