Join Steve Nelle for an in-depth discussion in this video Important Material Editor tools and icons, part of 3ds Max: Textures and Materials.
There is a handful of useful commands in the Materials Editor that should if possible be utilized doing your normal workflow. Some of these features being a little less known about than others. Now to demonstrate how they work, I am going to be using a file named Material Editor Tools. Let's begin by applying the material at the upper left-hand side of the Materials Editor to the object in our scene. Now we'll do that with a simple drag and drop. Once done, we can verify the material has indeed hit its spot because of the triangles that we see around the Sample Slot. Okay, if we wanted to see the black and red design of our material in the shaded view, we can drop down to the lower row of icons, clicking on the Show Map in Viewport command.
Over on the right-hand side icons, fourth one down we have a handy option that allows us the opportunity to quickly compare various tiling sizes. It's called Sample UV Tiling. Now if we hold the button down, we can experiment with the couple of different tiling sizes. Now important to know, the difference in the way the pattern displays only affects the visual representation we see in the Material Editor. This option does not affect the actual tiling in the map on the object's rendered surface. If we wanted to do that, we'd need to adjust the tiling value directly on the map itself.
Why don't we render our scene real quick to verify the fact that tiling indeed is unchanged? Staying on the right-hand side icons, we also have a Backlight option. Turning it off and on gives us a better idea of what a glancing specular highlight would look like, if the lighting in our scene was hitting our objects from an angle. Now directly below that, if we are building a skin with some level of transparency, we can activate the checkered background. This many times will offer us a little better look at the areas of an object that will be transparent.
Let's now apply the brick material that we see directly to the one we've been working on. A little further down in the icons in the right, we have the Material/Map Navigator. This provides a quick and easy way to navigate through the various maps that we build into a material. Now you'll notice that if we click on a specific entry, it will jump immediately to that map channel in the Materials Editor. So here is the map we have on the Diffuse Color. There is a noise map we have on the Specular. And another map we have on Glossiness. We can verify that back in the Editor. Here it reads Glossiness, there is our Bitmap, and there is the name down at the bottom.
Now back on the bottom row of icons, we have a command that allows us to break any relationship we might have instanced into a material. For example, if we use the same map in both the Diffuse and Bump channels, having instanced that when copying, clicking on the Make Unique button while at the map level, we'll remove that map-to-map relationship. Let's do this. We'll take that brick material in the middle ,copying it straight down. Now down in the Maps section, let's copy our Diffuse Color map down to the Bump channel. Now, when we get it there, we'll go ahead and say Instance.
This creates a relationship where if we were to change one of the settings on one of the referenced maps, the other map would change also. Let's do this. We'll take the Bump amount to 111. Now let's double-click on the sample slot which will open a larger resizable viewing window. Now back in the Editor, we'll jump up on the Bump branch changing the tiling of the bump map to 2 and 2. Now as we do that, because the map was instanced, you notice it also affects the map in the Diffuse channel.
Let's take our tiling settings back to 1 and 1. Now we go back to that horizontal row of icons below the sample slots. Heading right for the middle, looking for Make Unique. Let's go ahead now and click. Now that will break the relationship. Now watch what happens this time when we change the bump map's tiling to 2 and 2. You see this time around, without having that memory of instancing back to the Diffuse map, it's only changing the bump tile. Okay, let's go ahead and close the large window. Now if we select the material on the upper right-hand corner of the Editor, I want you to notice its name.
It's called Stone. If we now go back and check the name of the middle material, you'll see that's named Stone also. Now, if we again select the material in the upper-right and apply it to the scene, watch what happens. Because the existing brick material is also named Stone, we're getting a warning message about having duplicate names. Now if you want, you could always make a selection between one of the two options in the box, but here is a better way to go about it. We'll cancel that out. This time we're looking for a command that will replace that material, same name, without giving us that warning message.
We'll find then on the lower row icons second in from the left. It's called Put Material to Scene. Now check that out. It's made the replacement, yet no warning messages popped up. So as long as the name in the material is already in the scene, the command will automatically assign the new material without having the Material Already Exist warning coming up. Now to the right of that, we also have a command called Put to Library. This will save the existing material directly to the currently active material library. Now if you're unfamiliar with material libraries, we'll be looking at what they are and how they work in a later chapter in the title.
Lastly, being limited to only 24 sample slots in the Editor, you'll from time to time finding yourself needing to clear a ball or two off in order to build a few new skins. Now if that's the case, you can click on the Reset/Map Material to Default Settings icon. Now the options give you a chance to clear things off, either only in the Materials Editor or in both the Editor and in the scene. So that will get you setup with the handful of helpful tools that sometimes get overlooked.
- Creating surfaces and textures with maps
- Making 3D object surfaces look believable
- Mapping sub-object materials
- Layering images with composite maps
- Creating realistic glass and reflections
- Using mental ray Arch & Design and ProMaterials
- Exploring the Material Library