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The Material type is the most primal aspect of material. The next level down from that is the so-called Shader type. And this can be a bit confusing with the terminology because some people use the word Shader to mean the entire material and everything about it, including all of its maps and all of its properties. But in 3ds Max, the word shader is used in a much more narrow sense, which means a shading algorithm and what that means is what is the computer code under the hood that's generating the transition between the brightness, and the darkness on an illuminated surface? So it's kind of easier to see what's going on if we just choose different Shader types and see what they look like.
So you'll see here, Shader Basic Parameters, and where it says Blinn, this is your Shader type, and these are all the different options in 3ds Max. Blinn is the default, and it's named after James Blinn, the famous computer scientist who developed the Shader type back in the 1970s, but there are others here to play with. Blinn is the most general purpose and so you use that probably 90% of the time. But you'll also see some other ones here like there's a Metal Shader type, and let me turn on the Background here, and I'll play around with this a little bit like, for example, I can increase this Specular Level.
Basically, that's the intensity of the metalness. So now that's giving me this metal look. You wouldn't be able to get this look very easily using a Blinn Shader. So if I go back in here and change it to Blinn, you'll see we are getting a different result. I'll bring this level back down again. There are other shader types, for example. There's Oren-Nayar-Blinn, and that one is good for giving the effect of a rough surface because it's actually got a roughness factor in here. I am going to bring the Specular back down again, and you can see it's kind of got this rough appearance to it, almost as if it were a terra-cotta or unfinished ceramic.
If I increase the Roughness factor, it's going to be more obvious. I can change my Diffuse color to something more earthy and again, that's a look that you wouldn't be able to achieve with a Blinn material shader type. So you can play around with these a little bit and see what they do. Like I said, 90% of the time you are going to stick with Blinn.
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