Join Steve Nelle for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating the main body color, part of 3ds Max 2009 Beyond the Basics.
When building a basic material and working on its main color, your two major controls are going to be Ambient and Diffuse Color swatches, that you find under the Basic Parameters heading on the Material. Now I would like to go ahead and start by first unlocking the two buttons. There we go. Let's dive into the Diffuse. What the Diffuse Color swatch controls is the main body color of the skin that you are creating -- get this, in areas that are lit. In other words the illuminate parts of the surface. Now it's very easy to change that color, by simply clicking on the color swatch and opening up the Color Selector dialog.
Now the dialog is kind of divided with a left hand side and a right hand side. I would like to start off on the right. You can see we have six ramps with the names of what each of these ramps controls listed off to the left. Notice also that each of those ramps has a little white handle in it that you can then grab and move to the left or right to take more or add more of that particular element. Now from here it's pretty easy. If we were trying to create a color that maybe had a little bit more red into it, all we'd simply do is to grab the handle in the red ramp, and simply now move that to the right. Now in doing so, you are going to find two things changing.
One, the color swatch in the lower right hand corner of the dialog, but probably more importantly, look at the sample swatch inside the Materials Editor. And that's really all there is to it. You'd simply move the ramp from the one side to the other, to either add or subtract that color. Now one point of confusion might be the fact that you are seeing the color of the background behind the handles changing. So for an example, if you look in the red ramp at this point you don't really see much red color. Now here's what's happening. Believe it or not, those changes actually make little bit easier to work. This is what you need to do. Think of the color you want to make.
If you can find that particular color in any of the red, green, or blue ramps, simply move the handle in that ramp to that particular side. So for an example, look at the red ramp. If I wanted to make my sample ball blue, all I'd simply do, is to grab the handle in the red ramp, and pull it more to the left. See what's happening here? And if I wanted to make this a little bit of more of a lighter green, well, again, look in the green ramp. All I'd simply do is, to grab its handle and move it little bit more to the right. Now what do you think you do from here, if you wanted to make this a brighter green. Look at the blue ramp. Simply grab the handle in the blue, and now pull it to the left hand side.
And that's really all there is to it. Moving the top three handles in one direction or another, to get whatever color you're desiring. Now the fourth ramp down called Hue, this is pretty self-explanatory. Look at the colors in the ramp. If I wanted to make this more of an orange color, I'd simply move the handle in that direction. Lighter blue we'd simply go over here, and then maybe in the red, we could go to the far right. Now the fifth ramp down, spelled Sat, stands for Saturation. Look at the colors in the ramp. The right hand side of the ramp is fully saturated, in other words full of color, where as in which the left hand side of the ramp, is basically absent of color.
So if you grab the handle in the Saturation ramp and move to left, look what's happening to the color of your sample ball. It stays in that red color, but you are gradually pulling more and more of that red out. Let's go back and take that to the far right. The sixth ramp down, Value. Again, the colors within the ramp kind of tell you the story. Notice how it's very bright on one side, and very dark on the other. So Value controls how lighter, how dark the skin will become. So if we grab that handle and pull it to the left, again it stays the same color, but a darker version of that.
Let's go back and take it to the far right. The same thing can be pretty much can done on the left hand side of the screen, a little bit of a different way though. If I, for example, wanted to make a green color, I could simply take my mouse and click directly in the green. If I move now my mouse down, it's getting darker; if I move it up, it's getting lighter. You have a Hue ramp up to the top that goes left to right, and you have a Whiteness ramp that works pretty much like the Saturation values on the right hand side of the screen. Adding more whiteness by pulling the ramp down takes out that given color. We will take that back up to the top, and on the left hand side we had pretty much what the Value did.
As you drop that down, the color is becoming darker and darker. Let's go take that one back to the top also. Notice there is also a eyedropper in the lower left hand corner. Clicking on that, you can actually go to any position on the screen and click, and you'll grab that particular color. If you don't like what you've done, and you want to set it back to where we originally started, in this case gray, all you simply had to do is hit the Reset button. There we go. So one last time through, look at the color ramps. If I wanted to create a purple color, what would you do? I'll simply take the green ramp and take out the green.
If I want it to be a little bit brighter, I will simply add more of the Value, and we'll say we're happy with that. Let's go and say OK. The second part of the equation in creating a solid color is the Ambient color swatch. Where in which the Diffuse controls the main body colors and areas that are lit, the Ambient controls again the main body color, but in areas that are not lit. The non-illuminated parts of the surface, in other words. Now almost inevitably what you'll end up doing is, taking the Diffuse color, coping it over to the Ambient, and simply darkening it up. So let's go and do that. We will grab the color chip for Diffuse, we drag it over the Ambient, we'll drop and say Copy.
Now because normally a body color is simply a darker version in the areas that aren't lit, we'll open up the Ambient, and we'll simply dropdown the Value. When we're happy with that, we'll say OK, and you have now got a nice combination for a solid body color.
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