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Choosing the right materials to use for your rendering is always been time consuming. It usually meant flipping through multiple tool palettes and manually searching through hundreds of small samples to find exactly what you wanted. In AutoCAD 2011, selecting render materials has been made easy through the use of a new Materials Browser. This tool allows us to search for materials, manage them, and apply them to the objects in our drawing. On my screen, I have a drawing of a screwdriver and I would like to add some realistic looking materials to this drawing such that I can create a nice rendering.
To do that, I am going to use the Materials Browser. Let me mention first that I am using the 3D Modeling workspace. To find the Materials Browser, I am going to click the Render tab on my ribbon. Then I'll come down to the Materials panel and click the Materials Browser icon. Now we are going to be using this browser frequently in this lesson, so I'd like to dock this to the interface. To do that I'll click and hold on this vertical bar, I am going to drag this to the right side of my screen, and then I'll release. Once the palette has been docked, I can click and hold on this divider and I can drag this left or right to make the palette whatever width I like.
Let's do one more thing. I am going to go back to the Home tab, then I'll come down to the View panel and I am going to open up my Saved View menu and I am going to select Rendered view. This allows us to see the saved rendered view of our part on the left side of the screen. The Materials Browser is where we go shopping for materials. This palette contains hundreds of photorealistic materials and it's very easy to navigate such that we can quickly find the materials we are looking for. I am going to start by clicking this twirldown to open up the Autodesk Library and notice that the materials are divided into major categories.
We can use these categories to find our materials. For instance, maybe I am looking for a particular type of glass. I can select that category and then I can grab this slider and drag up and down to view all of the swatches. Instead of glass, maybe I am looking for a specific type of metal. I'll select that category. Once again, I can drag up and down to view the swatches. If you'd like to change the size of the swatches, you can click and hold on the slider and drag them to the left or right and make them whatever size you like.
We can also search for materials by using keywords. I am going to click in the search area and I am going to type red. This shows me all of the swatches that are associated with the color red and I can further refine my search by selecting a category. For instance, maybe I'd like to all of the red fabric, maybe I'd like to see all of the red masonry. As far as my drawing is concerned, I would like three materials. I would like to bring in a material for my table, one for the metal shaft of the screwdriver, and one for the handle.
First of all, I'd like the table to appear like wood. So I am going to click in the Search area and I am going to type pine. This sorts my materials. it's obvious they are all coming from the Wood category. I am going to drag down through the swatches here. These names are truncated, if I hover over these we can see the entire name. I am going to grab the Yellow Pine - Solid Natural Polished. To add this to my drawing, I will click once on the swatch. That adds it to the Document Materials area.
Let's clear the search. I'd like to find a metallic material to use for the shaft portion of the screwdriver. This time I am going to drag down through the categories, I am going to select Metal - Steel. Let's drag down through the swatches and let's go with this one, we'll use the metal with the satin finish. Finally, I need a material for the handle. I am going to click in the search area, and I am going to type yellow. Let's take a look at the categories. Metallic Paint.
That might be interesting. I don't care for those too much. Let's take a look at Plastic. Let's go with this one, Smooth - Yellow. I'll click to add this to my drawing. If you enter a keyword, AutoCAD applies that keyword to the materials in your drawing as well. You can use this to your advantage if you have several materials in your file. I am going to clear the search. Now that we've finished shopping, let's apply these materials to our objects. Now there's a couple of ways we can do this. One way we can apply a material is by clicking on the swatch.
I'll drag this into my drawing and I'll release it over the object I'd like to apply it to. As you could see, my table now looks like wood. Another way we can apply materials is by selecting the object first, then I can come over and select the material in the browser. I've got one more material left. Let's take this Yellow plastic. I am going to drag it over and release it on the handle. Now that I am finished, let's go to the Render tab and we'll click the Render icon to see how our image looks. Now that the rendering is finished, you could see my table has a nice wood grain appearance.
It's also somewhat glossy. It's getting that from the Material Property. The shaft part of the screwdriver looks like a satin-finished metal, and my yellow plastic handle looks okay. I am not crazy about the way this reads over the top of that wood material though. Let's make a change. I am going to close my render window. Let's grab a new material. I am going to type blue in the keyword search. Let's see if we can find something else interesting. Let's take a look at Metallic Paint.
I am going to click to add this to my drawing. I'll clear the search and then I'll drag this on to the handle. Let's render this one more time. There we go. In my opinion, this blue material looks much better. Feel free to experiment with any of the other material choices. Using the new Material Browser is a lot like having your own personal warehouse of material samples. Using the search and sorting features, it only takes a few clicks to find and apply the perfect material.
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