Join Steve Nelle for an in-depth discussion in this video The Material Editor interface, part of 3ds Max 2009 Beyond the Basics.
When it comes time to building a material in Max, you're going to be using a very special part of the program called the Material Editor. You can kind of think of it as your very little own Paintshop. Now what we're going to do in this video is give you a quick tour of its interface. The Material Editor can be opened in a couple of different ways. First, if you go into the toolbar in the upper right hand corner, we have a little icon here that looks like four little balls. You can click on this, or just use the keyboard shortcut Cmd+M. So here is the way she looks. Probably most prominently displayed, it is going to be the six gray balls that you see at the top.
These are referred to a sample slots. The sample slots are where you are going to build and edit the materials that you create for your scene. Notice that only one of them has a white box around it, meaning that it's active. It's very simple to activate a different sample ball, by simply clicking directly inside that slot. Notice also that we have couple of rows of icons that help in building your materials, one going horizontally below the sample balls, and then one kind of riding down the right hand side. If you put your mouse over at the top of any of those icons, you'll get the actual name of the command. Now the layout of the sample spheres cannot be changed.
Couple of different ways we do this, we have an Options icon on the right hand side, we can go ahead and click on this. This is just basically a bunch of settings that control how the sample spheres display. Specifically, if you look at the bottom, we have a category called Slots. So you can very easily change from 3X2 to 5X3, let's go and say OK. Now you can see how the layout has been changed, or you can do the same thing by simply right clicking directly on top of one of the sample slots, and changing from here. Let's go to 6X4.
Now as much as 24 is the maximum number of sample balls the Material Editor can contain. Be aware that you are certainly not limited to making only 24 materials for a given scene. You see, once a material has been built, it can be applied into the scene, and then above can be cleared off for another use. There's actually an easier way of changing the configuration and layout, by simply again, keeping your mouse inside the View Pod. Let's just use the keyboard shortcut letter X, and you can see we can actually toggle through, our three different layouts. If you put your mouse in between where the sample balls intersect, you'll see little black hand that comes up, and you can now hold that down, and you can navigate through going this direction also.
Now if you like a bit larger version of the sample slot, all you simply have to do, is to double click directly on top of that slot, a little floating window comes up and can be resized, and then any type of changes or updates that you make inside the Material Editor, will automatically be made in this larger viewing window. Let's go and close that. Now you'll find that when building designs or patterns in new materials, some may very well show up better on a different shape, other than a sphere. So if you go to the icon on the upper right hand corner under Sample Type, you can actually change that slot, either to a Cylinder or into a Cube.
For the time being let's go back to sphere. Now couple of things you need to be aware of. There is an area little bit below the horizontal icons, where you can name your material. Let's go and type in Lynda, to the left of that you are going to see an eyedropper, this is going to be use to retrieve materials out of your scene. To the right of that, you have the button named Standard. Now if you click on this, these are all the various types of materials that you can build in Max. We will be looking at several of these a little bit later on in the chapter. If we close that up and go under the Shader Basic Parameters and again the under the name Blinn, these are referred to as shaders.
These settings control how the light in your scene response to the surfaces that you are creating. That will go a long way in making your surface either look like plastic or possibly metal or maybe carpet or even skin. Again, each of those responds to light in slightly different way. Now below this area under Basic Parameters, you have the main controls that you'll be using when creating a solid color and I'm referring specifically to the words Ambient, Diffuse and Specular. Notice they also have color swatches to the right. For a greater level of control over the shiny area, you have a category called Specular Highlights.
Again, we'll be showing you all this in the upcoming videos. Little further down, you have an Extended Parameters. Some advanced controls for things like Transparency and Reflection, and when we go and close that up and immediately skip down to the category called Maps. Let's go and open that. Now the Map section is the real meat of the Material Editor when you start to build more complex materials, and by that, I mean the materials that might incorporate some kind of design or pattern. Believe me, we're going to be spending a ton of time here. You also have a category by the name of SuperSampling.
Now this is a little bit more advanced, but it offers the opportunity of adding additional calculation or two into the material, to basically improve the more subtle qualities of its appearance. Little further down we have a category called Dynamic Properties. Now these controls allow you setup physical attributes like elasticity and friction to an object, when you are doing something that's referred to as a Dynamic Stimulation. Now that's a special effects terms that would be used for making a ball bounce correctly or having it accurately respond coming into contact with something else in the scene.
Below the Dynamic Properties you have an area called the DirectX Manager. Again, a little bit more advanced stuff here, but you use this when building materials that will be imported into a video game. Now in a nutshell, the DirectX manager allows you to match up the accuracy of how well the material looks inside the Max's View Pods, with how well it's going to end up looking, once it is imported into the video game environment. And last but not least, you have a category right at the bottom called the Mental Ray Connection. Now this is a very special set of control that you'll use specifically when using, the Mental Ray rendering engine.
We will be showing you how all that works in the later chapter. So that should give you a real quick rundown of some of the stuff that we'll be dealing with, over the course of this chapter. You will get a little practice, and l promise you are going to be absolutely amazed with some of the stuff your are going to be putting together. Now in our next video, we're going to take a look at a few things you need to know about building a basic skin, that's really where it all starts. Let's go 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