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One of the new features within 3ds Max that I think you will come to appreciate the most is the Material Explorer; designed to allow for the management of all your scene materials within a single easy-to-navigate window, the Material Explorer offers the opportunity to quickly craft not just global material adjustments, but also to make quick edits to individual materials without having to access the Materials Editor. Let's take a look at how it works. To access the new dialog, you will want to go to the Rendering pull-down menu and choose Material Explorer. The interface is divided into two panels; the Scene panel at the top and the Material panel located directly below.
The Scene panel allows you to quickly browse and manage each and every material that's been applied to your scene. You can determine what and how things are displayed within the window by using the display icons located in the upper left-hand side, showing your materials as thumbnails. Displaying or not displaying the maps that are built into those materials and if needed, showing the object or objects that, that particular material has been applied to. Sorting, can done by Object or by Material.
You also have a series of columns that identify the type of material that you built. Whether or not its Map is currently displayed the Shaded view and how that display is being generated and the Material ID number which can easily be changed from directly within the window. Like with working with the Scene Explorer, individual columns can be added or removed to suit your needs and production workflow, removing by simply dragging the title tag into the view, or adding by either right-clicking on the Title bar or going to the Customize pull-down menu.
Columns can easily be reordered by simply dragging-and-dropping to their desired position. Materials can be renamed, Maps can be swapped or copied to other materials. You can even pull this again back into the Materials Editor for a quick adjustment or drag something directly from the Explorer into your scene. Expanding the material, now displays both objects on which it has been applied.
You can even change the type of material on the fly. That's done by opening the Material Editor, choosing a different type of material and dragging that type on to the existing material in the Explorer. Down on the Material panel, you can more closely inspect any individual material that's been applied to your scene. You can also easily change the size of the display. You can see what particular branch or material channel a Map has been loaded on to, in addition to its actual size. Or remove a Subtexture Map altogether by right-clicking on the name and choosing Delete Sub-Materials.
So, a lot going on the new Material Editor. As you get a little experience using it, you are going to wonder how you ever got along without it.
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