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Building a realistic material

From: Textures and Materials in 3ds Max

Video: Building a realistic material

Once the needed modeling for a scene has been completed, the next step of the production process is typically to build and apply a material or skin to the surface that you've created and that's where many feel the real fun begins, as it gives you as a 3-D artist the opportunity to bring an even greater sense of lifelike realism to the scene. Always remember your job as an animator is to get an audience to believe in what you're creating and it'll many times be the skins and textures that you'll apply that will serve as the mechanism to get that viewer to not just accept what you've done but to more importantly truly appreciate it.

Building a realistic material

Once the needed modeling for a scene has been completed, the next step of the production process is typically to build and apply a material or skin to the surface that you've created and that's where many feel the real fun begins, as it gives you as a 3-D artist the opportunity to bring an even greater sense of lifelike realism to the scene. Always remember your job as an animator is to get an audience to believe in what you're creating and it'll many times be the skins and textures that you'll apply that will serve as the mechanism to get that viewer to not just accept what you've done but to more importantly truly appreciate it.

As we begin our in-depth look at creating materials, it's important to realize that adding that extra sense of lifelike believability to the skins that you build isn't always the easiest thing to do. You see seldom when constructing a skin are you're going to find yourself simply creating a solid color that's then wrapped around a smooth and dull surface. No, the world we live in, the environments we must create, are much more complex than that. There's going to be designs and patterns, various levels of texturing and shine, even issues of things like aging and wear and tear.

Every one of those elements will need to be both considered and added in, in order to achieve the level of realism that your audience has pretty much come to expect. So as we strive to create the most photorealistic imagery possible, there's a couple of suggestions that we can use to get off to a good start. First is the importance of trying to use a visual reference whenever possible. That reference can be an object or simply a picture of an object. Either way, building a great-looking material will almost always be made easier by having something that arms reach that you can use for comparison.

Take for an example, creating the skin for a beat-up trashcan or dumpster. As you can see by the picture, our reference has a lot more going into the way it looks than merely a main body color. No, there are scratches and scrapes, various levels and areas of shine, even a few environmental elements mixed in, like rust and dust. Every bit of that is combining together to give the dumpster its overall appearance. Imagine how difficult it would be to create all that without having something to refer to. How easy it would be to overlook a characteristic or two that make it look the way it does.

No, having that picture on hand makes creating that customized look not just easier but also a good deal faster. And what about creating let's say the metal body for this wristwatch. Try doing that without a reference. Oh, you might come close but here's what's so important to remember about creating realism. Put yourself in your audience issues and think about what it's going to take to get them to believe. All you need to do when building that skin is to forget just one or two of those little surface attributes and your audience will immediately realize that something is off.

Many times not even knowing what's off, they just realize something's wrong and that's all it takes to get them to start criticizing. So to improve your odd for success, always try to get your hands on something, anything, that you can use for reference. The time it takes will be worth it. Now in addition to using reference material it's also essential that you look at building a skin as a step-by-step process that's going to take a little time to think through. Remember it doesn't take much for an audience to detect something's wrong. We all seem to be pretty good at that. So as you study and organize your thoughts as to how to best make a particular skin, be sure to focus on the smaller, more subtle visual characteristics that make the object specifically look the way it does.

Again, you got to remember it's not all simply about an object's color. No, almost every skin you make is going to have a healthy handful of attributes, surface characteristics in other words, that will go into giving it its appearance. So concentrate on the big picture but at the same time don't lose sight of the smaller maybe less noticeable elements. The object's age, its texture, its shine, its reflection, whether or not there's any transparency, it all adds up and it all counts big-time in bringing out the realism. Look at all the things that go into making the skin for this paper towel holder.

I mean you can definitely see its age, right? The wear and tear. You got areas where the stain has worn off, corners nicked up, dust settled in. No way you'd take that baby as being brand-new. So remember if your scene calls for something that looks old and tired, make it look old and tired. I mean, look at the difference between new and old with these tin snips. The ones with the red handles are barely a few months old, while the yellow handled pair have been sitting in the bottom of my toolbox for well over a decade. And you can see that, right? The smudges on the handle, the oxidation on the metal. They're old and they look old.

Make sure you apply that same thought and consideration to your 3-D scenes. You do and you'll find yourself creating things that look like photographs and not just computer-generated images. Let's go see what we can do.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Textures and Materials in 3ds Max
Textures and Materials in 3ds Max

79 video lessons · 9276 viewers

Steve Nelle
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 4m 41s
    1. Welcome
      1m 34s
    2. How to use this course
      59s
    3. Using the exercise files
      2m 8s
  2. 42m 13s
    1. Building a realistic material
      4m 48s
    2. Material Editor overview
      7m 34s
    3. Important Material Editor tools and icons
      5m 23s
    4. When the sample slot looks wrong
      3m 7s
    5. Applying and retrieving materials
      6m 10s
    6. Copying and pasting materials and maps
      6m 36s
    7. Using the Asset Browser
      5m 50s
    8. Selecting the right rendering engine
      2m 45s
  3. 23m 58s
    1. Blinn
      4m 37s
    2. Phong
      2m 14s
    3. Oren-Nayer-Blinn
      2m 46s
    4. Metal
      1m 43s
    5. Strauss
      2m 36s
    6. Anisotropic
      2m 50s
    7. Multi-Layer
      4m 5s
    8. Translucent
      3m 7s
  4. 35m 39s
    1. Diffuse
      4m 44s
    2. Bump
      3m 20s
    3. Opacity
      4m 16s
    4. Specular Level and Specular Color
      4m 27s
    5. Self-Illumination
      3m 18s
    6. Reflection
      4m 53s
    7. Refraction
      4m 43s
    8. Displacement
      5m 58s
  5. 1h 18m
    1. Standard
      2m 4s
    2. Blend
      7m 25s
    3. Double-Sided
      8m 17s
    4. Top/Bottom
      6m 48s
    5. Multi Sub-Object
      14m 9s
    6. Matte Shadow
      7m 6s
    7. Ink and Paint
      6m 44s
    8. mental ray Arch and Design materials
      12m 44s
    9. mental ray ProMaterials
      13m 27s
  6. 1h 16m
    1. Bitmap editing
      12m 22s
    2. Using noise maps
      9m 22s
    3. Using other procedural maps
      11m 33s
    4. Using gradient maps
      7m 51s
    5. Creating realistic reflections
      10m 50s
    6. Using composite maps to layer images
      12m 47s
    7. Using mix maps
      5m 40s
    8. Adjusting the color of a map
      5m 51s
  7. 1h 4m
    1. The UVW map modifier
      3m 45s
    2. Mapping coordinate types
      9m 56s
    3. Controlling map placement on a surface
      8m 54s
    4. The importance of mapping location in the Modifier Stack
      4m 15s
    5. Mapping at the sub-object level
      14m 46s
    6. Mapping lofted objects
      3m 33s
    7. Using multiple map channels
      3m 40s
    8. The Unwrap UVW modifier
      10m 12s
    9. Pelt mapping
      5m 26s
  8. 53m 1s
    1. Animating materials and maps
      15m 0s
    2. Creating realistic glass
      12m 30s
    3. Creating and positioning decals
      7m 24s
    4. Creating billboard tree maps
      9m 3s
    5. Using material ID numbers to add glow
      9m 4s
  9. 14m 15s
    1. Material library essentials
      6m 21s
    2. Creating a custom material library
      3m 48s
    3. Accessing materials from a different project
      4m 6s
  10. 22m 26s
    1. Creating a metal rivet
      9m 9s
    2. Building the hot metal material
      6m 26s
    3. Tweaking the materials
      3m 10s
    4. Animating the look of the hot metal material
      3m 41s
  11. 28m 33s
    1. Building the handle material
      3m 3s
    2. Building the hand guard material
      3m 45s
    3. Building the trim material
      2m 35s
    4. Building the blade material
      2m 41s
    5. Applying and mapping the handle material
      3m 7s
    6. Applying and mapping the hand guard and trim materials
      4m 11s
    7. Applying and mapping the blade material
      1m 34s
    8. Applying the final touches
      7m 37s
  12. 19m 29s
    1. Building the logo in Photoshop
      3m 15s
    2. Adding the text
      3m 17s
    3. Creating the image's alpha channel
      2m 32s
    4. Creating the logo material in 3ds Max
      4m 8s
    5. Mapping the object using multiple map channels
      6m 17s
  13. 22s
    1. Goodbye
      22s

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