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The Slate Material Editor's Material/ Map Browser is the area in the editor where you choose the type of material or map you're wanting to use in building your skin. As you scroll up and down, you can see the way things are categorized. The material is positioned at the top, followed by the maps down below. The column can be widened to the right should you have a few longer names in the list. Be aware that the available choices and options listed in the Browser will differ all depending on the specific rendering engine you've set the scene up to render with.
The Mental Ray Renderer offers a healthy handful of additional choices. Let's go ahead and switch away from the default Scanline Renderer, with which we are currently configured. We will close the Slate dialog. Then hit F10 to go to our Render setup. If we go down to the bottom of the list, we can open up the Assign Renderer, and then just to the right of Production, we will click on little icon with the three dots. From here we will choose mental ray Renderer, and we will say OK. Very good! We can close that out and we can then hit M to reopen the Slate Editor.
Now, as you can see, quite a few additional things have now hit the list. We have both the Arch & Design Shader, in addition to the new Autodesk Materials, which have basically replaced the original mental ray Pro Materials, which you might remember from the previous version of Max. The mental ray engine also gives us a slew of additional special mental ray maps. So we now have a much more robust material building tool set. Further down the list is another brand new addition in 2011, a terrific collection of over 1,200 pre-made, ready to use skins, called the Autodesk Material Library, which we're going to be looking at in more detail in an upcoming video.
So bottom line, we've got a lot of different materials and maps to work with. Now, the browser can also be easily converted into a floating window. You can do that by merely grabbing the title bar and dragging it onto the main Max interface. Getting it back to its original position is done by simply double-clicking back on the title bar. When not in use, it can also be hidden altogether using the toolbar, the Tools pull-down menu, or a keyboard shortcut, the letter O. There's also an X in the upper right-hand corner that you can click on to close it up.
The browser also has an extremely handy Search feature up at the top. Typing in the letter S for an example would list every material or map or map controller that starts with that letter. We will go up to where it says Search by Name and we will simply type S. And I will scroll down. We can see all the Ss that would be included in the browser. Now, you can also make your own custom group or category of materials and maps that you use most often. That would be done by going to the arrow to the left of where we just searched, and from the list choosing New Group.
Why don't we go ahead and name this My Materials and Maps? To add entries into the group, it's now simply a matter of dragging and dropping. We will choose the name from the list and then we will pull it up to our New Group name. So let's say for an example we want to add a Standard Material. Why don't we also do a Multi/Sub-Object? We'll get an Arch & Design in there. And why don't we also add a few maps. We will close the Materials. I will get the Standard Maps up.
Let's throw a Bitmap in. And we also use the Noise quite often. Let's go ahead and have that. Now, to make the group and its contents more recognizable, we can also change the background color of the tabs. For that, we will put our mouse on the name of the group and right-click. From here we will edit the group color and then we can change it to whatever we like. Anytime a custom group is no longer wanted, it can be easily removed from the Browser list by simply right-clicking on the group name and choosing Delete.
So here is how it works. When setting out to build a skin, you simply locate and drag your material type into the View window to the right. Centering an entry within the View workspace is done by either hitting the Z key on the keyboard or using one or more of the Zoom functions down in the lower right-hand corner of the interface. Now, once the Material type has been chosen and added to the Middle View window, it's just a matter of then wiring in the needed maps to construct the look of the skin.
So maybe for an example, we will add a Cellular Map to the Defuse channel. And we will place a Noise Map in on the Bump channel. Once we have done that, maybe a few more minor tweaks, and we are ready to go. So that's what's happening with the Material/Map Browser. Now in the next video, we'll look into making the most out of our material workspace. In other words, working with the View window just to the right.
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