Join Steve Nelle for an in-depth discussion in this video Building a complex material, part of 3ds Max 2009 Beyond the Basics.
Now that we've got the basics down on making materials, let's do something little more complex. When it comes to creating a more detailed material and by that, I mean one that has not just a color, but maybe a design or pattern to a scan, creating that look in most situations is done by building an image or picture into the material. That picture which Max more commonly refers to as a map or bitmap can be used to control every aspect of how the material ends up looking. It can be used to control its body color, whether the skin appears smooth or bumpy, its level of transparency, even whether something reflects out of the surface.
All that can be controlled by adding one or more maps to a material. Here's how that all works. When you decide to build the material then incorporate some kind of map, how aware you plug that map into the material, will determine what affect that particular map you'll have on the overall appearance of the skin you're creating. You see the same map used in one slot on a material will give you a completely different result on the same map used in another slot. By slot, I mean maybe the main body color or the bumpiness or the reflection, for example. The idea of that slotting might make a little more sense if you start thinking of a material as being like a tree with a bunch of branches, with each branch of the tree controlling a different aspect of the material's overall appearance.
Does that make sense? So, here is the bottom line. It's the maps that control the look of the material and how you load the map on the tree, in other words, on what branch or in which slot, well, that's what's going to determine the effect that particular will have on the overall material's appearance. You load an image or a map in one branch and maybe it controls the main body color. You load the same map on another branch and it instead will be used to control, let's say, just how smooth or rough the surface appears, or what areas of the surface are transparent, or what reflects out of the surface.
You get the idea? I think it will make more sense if we build one. Let's go ahead and do that. Let's start by concentrating on the main body color. This is a file named Complex Materials, which you can find in the Chapter 1 folder in the Exercise files. Let's go and open up the Materials Editor and let's say our goal here is to originally build a light blue skin. So I'm going to start off by giving it a name, let's call this Complex. I'll hit it and lock that down and I'm just going to right away drag and drop this on top of the object in my scene.
Now, this brings up a point; when specifically do you go about applying the material. You do so before it's built or after it's built? Frankly, it doesn't make any difference. The big thing is this; you want to make sure that it's applied before you start rendering out your scene. Rendering is simply the process of taking some colored pictures. So, what I have a tendency of doing is as soon as I begin building my material, I'll right away drop it on to the object. Therefore, I don't have to worry that when I start making my rendered images that it's in fact been applied. That's my particular approach, but you can certainly feel free to do it either way you'd like.
Either build the material first then apply it or get it in then start adding in its details. Now that we've done this, I'm going to go ahead and give it this light blue color. We'll go ahead and jump up on the Diffuse color swatch and I think to do so, simply add a little bit of blue and then maybe I take out a little bit of the green there, to lighten that up a little bit. There we go. I'll be happy with that. I'll go ahead and say OK and we're ready to get rolling here. Why don't we take a quick look at how this is turning out? I'm going to use the Render icon on the upper right-hand portion of the toolbar.
It's just a little green teapot right here, let's go ahead and click on that and there we actually have a rendered version of our object. You'll notice we have no shine or what is referred to a specularity on this, so why don't we go ahead and make those changes? We'll close that out and referring to the Specular Highlights, let's go ahead and give the Spec Level a value of 60, that'll be the strength of the shine. Let's then cruise on down to Glossyness and let's make that about 30, which will make that a little tighter, a little smaller shine. We can now go back and quick render. By the way, keyboard shortcut for that is simply F9 and you can see the Specular Highlights that have now been created on the upper part here and then kind of on the lower lip, also a little bit here on the bottom as you can see.
Okay, so that'll give us a good start now. Let's add a map to see if we can control the design of the skin. So we'll close out our Render and where do we go from here? Well, this is when we open the Map's tab down below. So let's go ahead and click on this and these are those branches of our material tree as I was trying to describe a little bit earlier. Again, each branch will accept the map, but how that map will be used, it'll be different in each and every case. Look at the names of the branches. Which one do you think controls the main body color? Well, if you remember what's the Diffuse color swatch that gave us the blue color, here we have a map branch named Diffuse Color, let's go and click on the None button to the right of that.
This is going to bring up our browser. When this opens, Max recognizes that you wanted to replace the color swatch with something, but here's where you have to make the decision on what you want to put on that branch. In this case, we've been talking about bitmaps. Let's go ahead and select the top one here, double click on Bitmap. Doing this, tells Max I want to load a bitmap, now the case is where you're going to start looking. By default, I want you to notice the directory structure; Max is originally going to look in the Images folder kept in the Scene Assets folder of your My Documents directory.
The file I'm looking for is on the desktop in the Exercise Files folder, so let's go there. Simply go up, Chapter 1. What you see are all individual images. By simply clicking on these, you'll get a little thumbnail view on the lower right-hand corner and if you want a larger version of that, you would simply have to click on the View button in the lower left. Let's first of all find the one we're going to use. I'd like to choose Paint Chips from our list. Let's now go down to the View button in the lower left and there is a full-sized version of the picture that we're going to be using to take over the main body color.
So now that we have a better idea of what this is going to look like, let's go ahead and close that out and now, simply click on the Open button. Now, when you do so, I want you to notice that all the settings inside the Materials Editor have changed. The reason being is we are no longer at the base of our material, but actually up on the Diffuse color branch. In fact, you can see that it says Diffuse color here on the left and then if we cruise on over the right, it's indicating that we are using a bitmap to control that main body color. The bitmap that we are actually using can be located a little bit further down under Bitmap parameters on this long button that ends as you can see in the word Paint Chips.
If you want to take a look at what that image looks like, again here, just simply click on View Image. Now, if we close that up and again, hit the Quick Render button, you can see the light blue material has been basically coated over by this new Paint Chips image. And what a radical difference it's made as far as the overall appearance of our object. If you decide that you want to change the picture, all you simply have to do is to go back down at that long button under bitmap, click on this, we're back to now viewing the images that we have to choose from and from here, why don't we go over and choose the Cedar Fence.
We'll again click on View to get a full size picture of that and we'll go ahead now and put that in place. Saying Open, you can see it's now changed and we'll render again, so there we go. Now, I want you to notice that you can see inside your Render, but if we close this out and minimize the Materials Editor, it does not show in the viewport. Now, we can change that if we go back and open up the editor, we have a little icon down here at the bottom row called Show Map in Viewport. Let's go ahead and click on that and now, what you see in the rendering, will also be viewable within the viewport itself.
Let's close that Render one last time. Here we are, so that'll give you an idea as far as loading a map on the diffused body color. In our next video, we'll take a look at how you can roughen up the surface a little. Let's go and check it out.
Special Note: Fundamental 3D modeling concepts and techniques, along with features such as transformations and modifiers, are covered in 3ds Max 2009 Essential Training.
- Building simple, complex, and multi/sub-object materials
- Using bitmaps to create realistic bumps, reflections, and transparency
- Creating lights to effectively illuminate a 3D scene
- Understanding camera types, lens lengths, and motion blur
- Creating realistic movement with keyframing
- Mastering traditional animation principles and practices
- Applying ActiveShade, RAM Player, and other rendering techniques
- Using particle systems, space warps, reactors, and other special effects
- Getting to know Character Studio, Bones, and their associated "skinning" modifiers
- Using compositing techniques and effects