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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.
Procedural Maps do have advantages: They are resolution independent, and they don't require any external files. However, they have serious disadvantages. For example, you can't just put a picture of a person's face using a Procedural Map. So for that you need to have an external file. So a TIFF file or JPEG or PNG file, that can be applied onto a surface. So I am going to do that now. I have still got my backdropMaterial active. I am looking at the Cellular parameters now.
I can click on the button that says Cellular and reassign that Map to be a different type. So in the Material Map browser, I have got Bitmap at the very top. So I will double-click on that. And as soon as I do, I get a list of available images. And you will see where it's referencing these images from. It's my current project, which is Exercise Files, and then sceneassets\images.
So this is the default location of images that are applied to Materials. You will also notice here that there is a field here that says, Files of type, and it says JPEG File currently. Well, this is a bit deceptive, because it's actually masking out all other files, and it's only displaying JPEG images. So this is one that's going to kind of bite you a little bit if you are not careful. Usually you want it to say All Formats, so that we can see that there are additionally other files in there besides JPEGs.
This one happens to be a PNG. So that's just an issue with the interface, that it kind of remembers the last file that you chose and masks off everything else. So you want to make sure that you choose All Formats, so you will see what's really in that folder. I click Open and once again, I want to click Show Standard Map in Viewport, so we can see it, and now I have got that Map applied to the backdrop. One more thing about these. You need to make sure that before you have done this that you have placed the images in that special folder in your project, which is sceneassets\images.
So I have got a folder view here that we can see. Here it is: Exercise Files\sceneassets\images, and these are the two images that I have placed in there. You need to place those images in this folder before you create the Material. That's very important, because you want to make sure that the path is recorded correctly, so that the next time you open this scene, 3ds Max will know where to go to look. One thing you never do is navigate on your hard drive and look to find a file that's in some random location, because what's going to happen then is that, inevitably the link is going to get broken.
As long as you keep everything within the project folder, and as long as you use the folders that are provided for you, then you should be fine. And every time you open your scene, hopefully you won't get any error messages saying that your Bitmaps are not found. One more thing that you need to remember about this is that there is a Customize setting that impacts this particular behavior. So I want to go into Customize Preferences and show you that in the Files Tab, you will need to have this switch turned on, Convert local file paths to Relative.
That needs to be enabled, and again, this needs to be done before you create any Materials. And what this is going to do is, instead of recording the absolute path to the file, in other words, in Windows an absolute path starts with the C or a D or a drive letter, and it lists the entire folder path. That's an absolute path. But we don't want absolute paths. We want relative paths, so that we can actually move our projects around from computer to computer, or we can move our project to a different folder, and as long as everything is inside there, and we have got this switch turned on, and we have kept all our ducks in a row, then we won't have any unpleasant surprises with missing files.
This is the number one problem that people have in 3ds Max is that they will open a scene file, and then their textures or their Maps are all missing, and it's because they didn't follow these proper procedures. So in review, once again, in your Preferences, you must have Convert local file path to Relative enabled. And that's not the default, by the way, so you need to turn that on. You will need to place all of your images into sceneassets\images in the current project. And then and only then will it be safe for you to add a Bitmap to a Material.
And you can see here under Bitmap, it says sceneassets\images\leopard_print.jpg. This is a relative path. It doesn't include a drive letter, and it doesn't indicate specifically where the file is on my hard drive. It's only relative to the project folder's root. So again, I could move that project to somewhere else, and as long as I maintain the files inside the sceneassets\images images folder, then I shouldn't have any trouble.
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