Abstract : Reflectance properties express how objects in a virtual scene interact with light; they control the appearance of the object: whether it looks shiny or not, whether it has a metallic or plastic appearance. Having a good reflectance model is essential for the production of photo-realistic pictures. Measured reflectance functions provide high realism at the expense of memory cost. Parametric models are compact, but finding the right parameters to approximate measured reflectance can be difficult. Most parametric models use a model of the surface micro-geometry to predict the reflectance at the macroscopic level. In this paper, we show that this micro-geometry causes two different physical phenomena: reflection and diffraction. Their relative importance is connected to the surface roughness. Taking both phenomena into account, we develop a new reflectance model that is compact, based on physical properties and provides a good approximation of measured reflectance.