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In addition to setting up your material settings over here in the Shading Context, Blender offers a node based material editor. To start that, we just click here over under Nodes and then we've to use one of the windows as a Node Editor. This is the first time we've seen this in the course and this is a big old spreadsheet that you can use to construct a virtual network of nodes, just like when you're doing a project plan and you construct a network chart of all tasks. Well that's the same idea that nodes are.
The first thing we want to do is to click this ball here, which says that this Node Editor is going to be used to edit a Material Node. We want to Use Nodes and this is the Node Material NT that we're going to be editing called Material. We can call it something else. Let's call it CloudyBar. That's the way you can name your node based materials so that they're saved in the file and you can readily identify them later on. The first node we want to add is the Material node. This controls the basic settings for the material.
By default it's shades of gray. So now if we press F12 instead of getting the red bar we now get the gray bar. Now let's modify this color using another node. So we've a whole bunch of different nodes that do different things to the color and then they pass it on to the next node, until finally it reaches the output. So the RGB Curves node is a little color processor that can adjust the different colors. So let's say this is the red channel. So for little parts of red, I'm going to boost the red.
So this is kind of a red booster right here. And if we go ahead and thread this RGB Curve by pressing just Space and Add the Output node. Because the RGB Curve was already selected, Blender automatically threads the nodes together for us in a nice little chain. So now we've a pink bar because we've boosted the reds from the gray and routed that to the output. We can also mix in textures into the color by adding a Texture Input node and selecting a Texture.
In this case, I've defined a Cloud texture. So let's mix that into the pink color by using the Mix node, which is also in the Color section. Now what we're going to do is use this Cloud color to route the value to the Mix node, so this value now tells this Mix node where to mix between these two colors. So we'll use the original color and let's give it a blue color to choose from. Now when we route this to the Color Output, we've a material that mixes between a pink and a blue according to this cloud texture.
As you can see these node trees or these noodles like I like to call them can get pretty long and complex. But you basically just keep stringing them together, modifying the material color as you go according to whatever vector and geometry and how you want to apply or map these colors to reach other based on either, for example, here on the Input, we've the Geometry of the scene. The Camera Data, you can even change colors based on how far that object is from the camera.
So things can get like red hot as they get really close end to the camera or whatever. You can set your own RGB values and of course, use those textures. What you can do with those then is then mix them or adjust them, Invert them or play with the Hue Saturation and Value. You can also map them to different aspects of the geometry or the situation and use Ramps, convert them to Black and White and also do Math on them. This is especially useful when you're mapping camera data.
Ultimately, you can create groups of nodes so that if you come up with a good noodle that you like, like this one here, if you want to reuse it you can just define these as a group by pressing, for example B and highlighting these nodes that you want to group and then Node > Make Group and then that makes this Node group into something that can be reused and imported in other situations. And also just simplifies the whole display of the noodles inside your Node Editor window.
So that's a brief rundown on how to use nodes to create a material, instead of using the traditional material panels.
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