Start your free trial now, and begin learning software, business and creative skills—anytime, anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts.

Start Your Free Trial Now

Using the Material Editor


3ds Max 2011 Essential Training

with Aaron F. Ross

Video: Using the Material Editor

In this chapter, we are going to look at the basics of material editing in 3ds Max, and we are going to use this flying logo exercise to learn about the Material Editor. You can see here on the backdrop, we've got a print pattern and on the text itself, we've got reflections using a technique called Ray Tracing, and there's also some detail added here using something called a Bump Map. So this is where we are headed towards. Let's go to our 3ds Max scene here. It's a 01_material_start.
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 3m 19s
    1. Welcome
    2. Prerequisites
      1m 18s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 4s
  2. 7m 33s
    1. Using the Custom UI and Defaults Switcher
      1m 35s
    2. Setting local file paths to relative
      1m 27s
    3. Using project folders
      4m 31s
  3. 36m 35s
    1. Getting familiar with the interface
      4m 5s
    2. Touring the command panels
      1m 44s
    3. Creating primitives
      3m 5s
    4. Navigating the viewports
      3m 57s
    5. Using hotkeys
      3m 18s
    6. Choosing shading modes
      3m 6s
    7. Configuring the viewports
      3m 29s
    8. Transforming objects
      4m 32s
    9. Using the toolbars
      3m 33s
    10. Using the Modify panel
      5m 46s
  4. 36m 11s
    1. Surveying different modeling methods
      5m 18s
    2. Setting units
      5m 8s
    3. Setting home grid dimensions
      3m 37s
    4. Understanding the Level of Detail utility
      3m 34s
    5. Working with the Modifier Stack
      3m 51s
    6. Understanding dependencies
      5m 9s
    7. Collapsing the Modifier Stack
      4m 53s
    8. Working with sub-objects
      4m 41s
  5. 18m 32s
    1. Creating shapes
      5m 17s
    2. Creating lines
      2m 56s
    3. Converting a shape to an editable spline
      2m 20s
    4. Transforming editable spline sub-objects
      4m 20s
    5. Using different types of vertices
      3m 39s
  6. 35m 30s
    1. Lofting a vase
      3m 59s
    2. Setting loft parameters
      3m 49s
    3. Editing the path and shapes
      5m 18s
    4. Manipulating loft sub-objects
      3m 55s
    5. Adding a scale deformation
      5m 47s
    6. Adding a shell modifier
      3m 50s
    7. Smoothing polygon edges
      8m 52s
  7. 26m 20s
    1. Setting up the project and scene layout
      2m 34s
    2. Creating a backdrop profile line
      1m 19s
    3. Using Editable Spline Fillet
      1m 24s
    4. Extruding shapes
      2m 36s
    5. Creating text
      1m 21s
    6. Applying a bevel modifier
      3m 57s
    7. Choosing bevel parameters
      2m 33s
    8. Using Display All Triangle Edges
      1m 56s
    9. Adjusting spline interpolation
      2m 22s
    10. Deforming beveled objects
      1m 17s
    11. Exporting paths from Adobe Illustrator
      2m 39s
    12. Importing Illustrator paths to 3ds Max
      2m 22s
  8. 55m 55s
    1. Setting up the scene
      2m 8s
    2. Creating chamfer boxes
      4m 44s
    3. Smoothing edges
      1m 16s
    4. Using the Array tool
      5m 31s
    5. Grouping objects
      10m 18s
    6. Modeling lines
      11m 17s
    7. Using the Sweep Modifier
      3m 0s
    8. Soft-selecting sub-objects with Volume Select
      5m 40s
    9. Removing polygons with Delete Mesh
      2m 37s
    10. Clearing a sub-object selection with Mesh Select
      3m 37s
    11. Adding randomness with the Noise Modifier
      5m 47s
  9. 33m 2s
    1. Understanding subdivision surfaces
      2m 46s
    2. Creating a box and converting to editable poly format
      3m 54s
    3. Using the Symmetry Modifier
      1m 44s
    4. Working with TurboSmooth
      3m 3s
    5. Extruding polygons
      1m 54s
    6. Editing edge loops
      8m 15s
    7. Shaping the model
      4m 57s
    8. Baking subdivisions
      3m 45s
    9. Optimizing polygon Level of Detail
      2m 44s
  10. 38m 45s
    1. Understanding the graphite tools within Editable Poly
      2m 40s
    2. Using the Graphite Ribbon interface
      3m 26s
    3. Using traditional editable poly tools within Graphite
      11m 30s
    4. Adjusting detail with Remove and Cut
      4m 44s
    5. Using SwitfLoop
      2m 46s
    6. Constraining sub-object transforms
      2m 23s
    7. Attaching polygon meshes to a single object
      5m 33s
    8. Bridging parts of a mesh
      5m 43s
  11. 25m 24s
    1. Understanding NURBS
      2m 35s
    2. Creating NURBS curves
      7m 27s
    3. Creating a U-loft surface
      5m 52s
    4. Editing curves and surfaces
      3m 9s
    5. Setting surface approximation
      6m 21s
  12. 1h 0m
    1. Using the Material Editor
      7m 8s
    2. Choosing a material type
      3m 3s
    3. Choosing a shader type
      2m 12s
    4. Adjusting specular parameters
      3m 6s
    5. Setting opacity
      3m 5s
    6. Understanding procedural Maps and bitmaps
      4m 11s
    7. Using bitmaps
      5m 21s
    8. Navigating shader trees
      2m 27s
    9. Tracking scene assets
      4m 40s
    10. Creating simple UVW mapping
      7m 52s
    11. Adding reflections with a Raytrace map
      4m 32s
    12. Creating an environment
      5m 27s
    13. Mapping a bump channel
      7m 13s
  13. 27m 4s
    1. Creating cameras
      4m 1s
    2. Understanding target and free cameras
      4m 39s
    3. Using Camera Pan, Truck, and Dolly
      4m 8s
    4. Adjusting the field of view
      4m 59s
    5. Understanding aspect ratio
      2m 6s
    6. Showing safe frames
      3m 12s
    7. Choosing render output size
      3m 59s
  14. 43m 36s
    1. Understanding CG lighting
      5m 56s
    2. Understanding standard and photometric lights
      1m 48s
    3. Creating a target spotlight
      2m 3s
    4. Enabling viewport hardware shading
      2m 10s
    5. Previewing renderings with ActiveShade
      3m 6s
    6. Adjusting intensity and color
      2m 27s
    7. Controlling contrast and highlights
      2m 52s
    8. Setting spotlight hotspot and falloff radius
      4m 59s
    9. Choosing a shadow type
      3m 56s
    10. Optimizing shadow maps
      5m 46s
    11. Using area shadows
      3m 57s
    12. Creating omni lights
      4m 36s
  15. 43m 33s
    1. Understanding keyframes
      1m 41s
    2. Setting time configuration
      3m 48s
    3. Choosing set key filters
      1m 27s
    4. Using Set Key mode
      2m 39s
    5. Editing keyframes in the Timeline
      2m 43s
    6. Using Auto Key mode
      5m 44s
    7. Creating animation in passes
      2m 40s
    8. Animating modifier parameters
      3m 53s
    9. Working in the dope sheet
      7m 47s
    10. Editing function curves
      5m 28s
    11. Looping animation
      5m 43s
  16. 43m 54s
    1. Understanding hierarchies
      3m 16s
    2. Understanding reference coordinate systems
      5m 51s
    3. Editing pivot points
      4m 40s
    4. Linking objects
      3m 20s
    5. Using the Schematic view
      1m 59s
    6. Preventing problems with scale
      7m 50s
    7. Animating a hierarchy
      10m 11s
    8. Fine-tuning the animation
      6m 47s
  17. 20m 53s
    1. Understanding controllers
      3m 55s
    2. Applying path constraints
      4m 55s
    3. Assigning a link constraint
      2m 27s
    4. Using the Motion panel
      2m 48s
    5. Animating constrained objects
      6m 48s
  18. 28m 29s
    1. Understanding particle systems
      2m 24s
    2. Emitting particles from an object with PArray
      2m 18s
    3. Adjusting particle parameters
      5m 33s
    4. Binding particles to a gravitational force
      2m 51s
    5. Colliding particles with a POmniFlector
      6m 4s
    6. Creating a particle material
      3m 23s
    7. Mapping opacity with a gradient
      2m 1s
    8. Assigning a material ID G-Buffer channel
    9. Creating a lens effect glow
      3m 9s
  19. 18m 50s
    1. Understanding image sequences
      5m 40s
    2. Setting render options
      7m 53s
    3. Compressing an image sequence to a movie
      5m 17s
  20. 27s
    1. Goodbye

please wait ...
Watch the Online Video Course 3ds Max 2011 Essential Training
10h 4m Beginner May 26, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In 3ds Max 2011 Essential Training, author Aaron F. Ross demonstrates how to use this top-tier application for digital content creation, widely used in diverse industries such as architecture, industrial design, motion pictures, games and virtual worlds. This course covers modeling with polygons, curves, and subdivision surfaces, defining surface properties with materials and maps, setting up cameras and lights, animating objects, and final output rendering. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Getting familiar with the 3ds Max interface
  • Creating shapes and splines
  • Modeling Loft objects
  • Creating motion graphics
  • Modeling with polygons and subdivisions
  • Modeling with NURBS
  • Shading objects with materials and maps
  • Setting up camera and scene layout
  • Lighting basic scenes
  • Animating objects with keyframes
  • Editing keyframes in the Curve Editor
  • Constructing and animating hierarchies
  • Using animation Constraints
  • Animating particle systems
  • Rendering animations to disk
3D + Animation
3ds Max
Aaron F. Ross

Using the Material Editor

In this chapter, we are going to look at the basics of material editing in 3ds Max, and we are going to use this flying logo exercise to learn about the Material Editor. You can see here on the backdrop, we've got a print pattern and on the text itself, we've got reflections using a technique called Ray Tracing, and there's also some detail added here using something called a Bump Map. So this is where we are headed towards. Let's go to our 3ds Max scene here. It's a 01_material_start.

And we are going to open up the Material Editor and take a look at it. So the Material Editor can be opened from the Main Toolbar, or from the keyboard shortcuts. Material Editor icon looks like a big sphere with some abstract thing down there that's supposed to represent a dialog box. So when I click on that, I get a Material Editor launching up. Now, the very first time you launch the Material Editor, you might get the Slate Material Editor instead of this one, which is the Compact Material Editor. I am going to be using the Compact Material Editor, because the Slate Editor is a little bit more trouble than it's worth for us right now at the beginner stage.

You can switch between modes up here. So if you're seeing something that looks like this, this is more for advanced users. It's a node-based material editor, and it's new in Max 2011. But again, I am going to be using the Compact Material Editor, because it's easier for us to learn. So I am going to go up to modes and switch to the Compact Material Editor. Within the Compact Material Editor, you'll see you have got some sample slots up here, and these are staging areas where you can build materials, and it doesn't have any relationship to objects in the scene necessarily.

In the other words, just because I have a material in one of these slots does not mean that it exists on an object in my world, and vice-versa. Another thing I want to mention is that there are only 24 slots here, but there is no limit to the number of materials that you can have in your scene. So you can only work on 24 materials at a time, but you can have an infinite number of materials in your scene. And if you run out of slots, you can just reuse them, and that won't affect the scene. Cool! So that's the Material Editor interface. Let's take a look at some of the stuff here where there's a bunch of options down the side here for displaying things.

Like we can put a background in the current slot and choose another slot here, and choose a background. I've got different options for lighting and so on. I could choose a different sample object up here. So if I want, I could use a cube instead of a sphere. I can also Middle Mouse+Drag in the sample slot here to reorient or rotate the sample object. Most of the time you'll use a sphere as your sample object. The materials all have names. So if we select a sample slot, you will see a name listed here.

So I am going to go ahead and give it a name to start out with. Let's call this one logoMaterial and press Enter. And I do advise putting the word Material in the name of the material so that you'll know that it's a top-level entity. In other words, materials can have fairly complex structure in which you've got different maps that are controlling various surface properties. So a map is an image or some sort of pattern that's applied to a material property, such as the color.

In order to differentiate between maps and materials, I actually preferred to put the word Material in the name. The Material Editor has got a bunch of rollouts down here in this area, and you can scroll down, and you can see that each one of these is going to open up. So, for example, I've got a section here for maps. So if I click on that rollout, it'll expand so that I can see all the available map channels. These are all the different surface properties of this material that could be mapped, or they could be varied using an image or a pattern, either an external file or a pattern generated by 3ds Max.

This panel here, which is the parameters for the material, can change depending upon what you're doing. Right now, we are looking at the top level of this material, and it doesn't have any maps, and it doesn't have anything going on in it. So right now, we're in a very sort of rudimentary stage here. I can do simple things like I can change the color, and so you'll see that there is a swatch here for the diffuse color. So diffuse means what color is it going to reflect back into the environment, and right now it's just this neutral gray.

If I click on that swatch I can then choose a different color. 3ds Max has a great color selector here that lets you choose whether you want to work with you Hue, Saturation, Value, or Red, Green and Blue, or with this color space rectangle here. We can drag around to choose different colors and adjust the saturation and luminance with one slider here. So Value is brightness and Saturation is intensity of a color. And I can actually adjust them both at once with this Whiteness slider.

You'll notice also that the Ambient swatch is also changing at the same time, and that's because by default, they are locked together. Ambient is the color of an object, where it's not directly illuminated. And diffuse the color of the object where it is directly lit, and in most cases those are the same. So I am going to leave that locked as it is. If I want to assign this material to an object, I can do it in multiple ways. One would be to simply drag and drop onto the object and release the mouse.

And I've just assigned that material. I could also select an object and use the Assign Material to Selection button right here, and now I have assigned that material to both of the objects in my scene. Well, I do want to have a separate backdrop material. So I am going to select the other sample slot here, and I am going to rename this to backdropMaterial and just temporarily plug in a color there so we can see that there is a different material here.

So click OK and once again, I'll select the backdrop object. You can see it's got a selection bracket around it, and I can click Assign Material to Selection, and now that material is assigned to that object. You'll also notice that the sample slots are showing up with different borders around their frames here. The solid border indicates the currently active sample slot. So if I select this one, you'll see it's highlighted with a white border. So that's the one I'm currently working on. The little triangles here indicate that this is a so-called "hot" material.

It's a material that is actually present somewhere in the scene that's been applied to some object. And if the triangles are open here, then that means it's assigned to some object that is not currently selected. But if you see a solid triangle here, that indicates that the material is assigned to an object in the scene, and that object is currently selected. So if I deselect the backdrop, you'll see that the little triangles are now open. So those are the basics of how you can navigate the Material Editor and assign simple materials to objects.

There are currently no FAQs about 3ds Max 2011 Essential Training.

Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.

Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now Already a member? Log in

* Estimated file size

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.

Mark all as unwatched Cancel


You have completed 3ds Max 2011 Essential Training.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


Upgrade to View Courses Offline


With our new Desktop App, Annual Premium Members can download courses for Internet-free viewing.

Upgrade Now

After upgrading, download Desktop App Here.

Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Start your FREE 10-day trial

Begin learning software, business, and creative skills—anytime,
anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts. provides
Unlimited access to over 4,000 courses—more than 100,000 video tutorials
Expert-led instruction
On-the-go learning. Watch from your computer, tablet, or mobile device. Switch back and forth as you choose.
Start Your FREE Trial Now

A trusted source for knowledge.


We provide training to more than 4 million people, and our members tell us that helps them stay ahead of software updates, pick up brand-new skills, switch careers, land promotions, and explore new hobbies. What can we help you do?

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.