Join Aaron F. Ross for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating Arch & Design materials, part of Creating Product Shots in 3ds Max.
Before applying materials we just want to lock down these objects so that they can't be moved or altered. We'll do that by putting them on layers. Open up the manage layers dialogue. I go into the Default layer, and that's where all your lights and camera should be. Select all the lights, holding down Shift, and selecting all of those. Then click to select the highlighted objects, and then click, to create a new layer containing the selected objects. Now I've got a new layer here, I'll rename that call it lights. And we can freeze it so that we can't actually touch it or move it.
And so that we can still see those objects we'll want to go into the layer properties. We can right click on here and choose, Layer Properties or we can just click on a Layer icon and that will open up those properties. Disable show frozen in gray and click Okay. And now we can't select those lights, but we'll still be able to see them. Likewise with the camera. Open that Default layer back up again, select Camera, select it with the select button here, and then move it into a new layer. Once it's been moved over, rename the layer, Camera.
You can freeze it and you can go into it's layer properties and disable, show frozen in grey. Once you finish with that don't forget to make the Default layer current. Remember that any new objects that you create will be placed into the current layer and if the current layer is frozen as the camera layer was, then you will be creating objects into a frozen layer and won't be able to select them. Even worse you could be creating objects into a hidden layer and not even know what was going on. So, always remember after you've created a new layer to make the Default layer current once again.
Okay, so that's our layers housekeeping and now we're ready to go into the Material editor. You can open the Material editor by clicking on this button in the main tool bar. Or by pressing the M key on your keyboard. M for materials. The material editor in 3DS Max has 2 different modes. This is the Slate Material editor, and it's node based, which means we can see connections very easily. It's like a scene graph. There's also the Compact Material editor which is the old school version, and it's more layers based. You can switch between modes by going up here to Modes, and then choose either Compact or Slate.
We're going to be using the Slate material editor in this course because that's going to allow us to view the connections between different material and map notes, so we'll want to be in the Slate Material editor. I want to give you a little bit of an intro to the Slate Material editor here. This middle area here is your work area, and that's where you'll be able to see and make connections. On the right is the Parameter editor where you'll be able to adjust different parameters such as map tiling and so on. Over on the left is a browser. And in the browser are different sections.
Some of those sections are bins for nodes that you could create and some are materials that exist in the scene or in a sample slot which is a kind of holding area. Let me close up some of these sections here and we can take a look at these. Materials, Maps, Controllers, Autodesk material library. These are all creation bins. And when you click on something in one of these, you can then draw it into the main view to create it. See materials are the materials that actually exist in the scene, in your Viewports.
And these are just the Default Mental Ray scene materials that always exist. Sample slots are kind of holding area, or staging area for materials, and when you work in the Compact Material editor you're basically always using sample slots. But actually in the Slate Material editor they're kind of superfluous, they're sort of irrelevant and unnecessary because you're basically working in the view all of the time. So I never used a sample slots in the Slate Material editor. Just close that and forget about it.
But the scene materials are very important of course those are the materials that exist in your scene. If for some reason you want to have a material stored in the editor but not in the scene then you can use the sample slots and kind of store things in there temporarily and have it not be in the scene. All right. So we're going to go create a new material. We'll open the materials section here. And we've got standard materials, those are for the 3DS Max scanline renderer. And then we've got Mental Ray materials. And the very first one in alphabetical order is Archon Design.
And that's the one you'll want to use for product renderings, because it's really the most advanced. For Maya users, this is equivalent to the Mia material. To create the material, you want to click on that and then drag it into the main view here. And you'll see you've got lots of stuff to play with here. In order to actually get at the parameters, we'll have to double click on the name up here. So double click. Once you've double-clicked on that material node, then you'll see that it's highlighted with this dashed line.
And then over in the parameter section, we can actually adjust these different material parameters. Whenever working with Arch and Design, the first thing that you want to do is choose a template up here. I'm just going to create a very simple one here for the back of the watch. And it's just going to be a flat, black, matte, with no shiny highlights. So I want to choose Matte Finish. And having done that, it has changed a bunch of attributes. For example, Reflection and Reflectivity is set down to zero. Now, I just want to change this to a black color.
So, that's the diffuse color or the main color of the object. Click on the sample swatch here, and set that color to black. Or maybe nearly black. Maybe not exactly black. Maybe some value very, very close to black. Maybe something like 0.01 here. the reason I like to do that is because, if we have a very low value here, it won't render us absolute black, it will have kind of a dark look but it won't be 100%black.
Make sure we set the saturation down to zero. Okay, so, that's pretty good. Click OK. And we should give it a name, too. I'm going to call this one Black Matte. And now we need to assign it to the object in the scene. Remember that all of our geometry here is frozen so we can't actually select anything. I want to use the scene explorer to do that. Go into Tools>New Scene Explorer, and we want to select the back. Open up the hierarchy here, and here's the back. Click on that. It's actually selected.
And then with it selected, and with this material mode selected we can click, Assign Material to Selection. And that actually makes it a scene material. It applies it to an object, and we can check on that if we scroll down and look in C Materials. And you'll see black net is in there now. Alright. And just to verify that it has actually been applied, we'll need to hide that glass because we can't see through it yet, so let's go into our Layers dialog once again. And hide the Glass layer. And now, you'll see we've got a black back to that watch.
Want to learn how to create the same effect with Maya? Check out Creating Product Shots in Maya.
- Importing solid models as 3ds Max body objects
- Working with the scene layout, hierarchy, and display layers
- Building Arch & Design materials
- Creating area and photometric lights
- Setting exposure control
- Optimizing indirect illumination with Final Gather
- Image-based lighting with high dynamic range files
- Lighting with self-illuminated geometry
- Rendering to high dynamic range
- Saving render passes with Render Elements
- Adding ambient occlusion
- Layering and color correction in After Effects