Join Steve Nelle for an in-depth discussion in this video Using the Asset Browser, part of 3ds Max: Textures and Materials.
Max offers a cool utility called the Asset Browser, which comes in pretty handy in quite a few situations when building and applying materials. Let's see what it can do. We are going to be using a file named Asset Browser. Let's render the camera view. Now the scene consists of a covered table along with a few restaurant type items on top. Two of the objects, namely the coffee inside the cup and the spoon resting on the side of the plate, have already had their skins applied.
Our job will be to apply materials to the remaining objects in the scene. Now to do that we are going to be taking advantage of the Asset Browser. As the name implies, the browser is designed to do exactly that, to browse assets. Now those assets can be bitmaps, Max scene files, even the Internet should be plugged in and ready to surf. What we'll specifically be using the browser for in our example will be to find and apply various bitmap images into our scene. We are going to be able to do that using a simple drag-and-drop technique.
Now here's how that's done. Let's close the render, then enter the Command panel right-hand side of the screen. Look for an icon that looks like a hammer. It's called Utilities. Go ahead and click there. Now directly below that, we'll click on the button named Asset Browser. Now up at the top at the pulldown menus, you'll find a series of filter and display options. Below that on the toolbar you've got a handful of icons designed to help with a variety of things, including refreshing folder display and stopping the load type process before the entire contents of the folder have been listed.
To the right of that is an area where you can type in a web address should you want to browse the net. Below that on the left are the listings of the folders on your hard drive and any network locations, should those be available. Let's drop down to the bottom of the list, open up the Exercise Files and navigate to the Chapter 2 folder. Now we'll go back up to the pulldown menus, enter Filter, choosing All Images. Okay. Let's see we can do. The browser first off lets you drag maps directly on top of the material sample slots, loading that map on to the diffuse color channel for that material.
Let's go and reposition the Asset Browser over to the side and open up the Materials Editor. Now back in the browser, bottom row, let's choose Tablecloth1, dragging it right on top of one of the empty gray sample balls. With that in place we can now apply it directly to the tablecloth on our scene. Let's now go ahead and re-render. Now you can also drag directly into the views, dropping the map on top of what you want it to be applied to. Let's close the render and reposition the browser.
This time around let's select Tablecloth2 from the browser, dragging it directly on top of the geometry that represents the tablecloth in our scene. Again, you can see the map taking over for the main body color, automatically building the image into the material's diffuse color slot. Now before loading a material you can also double-click on it to get a full-sized version of the image. Let's do that in the browser with a coffee cup. We can now close that picture and drag the coffee cup image on to the cup in our scene.
Let's do the same with the plate map in the browser, getting it on the plate in our view. And why don't we go ahead and render again? Now, to give the scene a little flavor of maybe an off-the-beaten-path Italian restaurant, let's apply the placemat. We'll find it in the list and we'll drag it from the browser onto the placemat in our scene. We also have a reserved sign we are going to apply. Let's look at that first. We can now apply it to the folded card on top of the table. A little tough to get there. Here we go, very good. Let's render again.
So things turn out looking pretty good, and we were able to wrap up what we needed in no time flat. Get this. You can even drag maps from the browser directly into being used as both render and viewport backgrounds. Find the Wood Boards image in the list and drag it directly on top of the viewport. Now when the Viewport Drop dialog opens, accept it as is, and let's go ahead and render that. Now if that wasn't enough, as I mentioned little earlier, the browser can also load or merge Max scene files.
Let's close the render, then re-enter the Filter pulldown at the top of the browser. Once open we'll choose All geometry. Now this will instead list any scene files that we might have in the directory that's open. Let's do this. On the bottom row far left, you'll find one called Teapot to Merge.max. I'd like you to drag that directly into the viewport placing it on top of the table. Now when you let go of the mouse, choose Merge File. Now we are still in control. As we move our mouse around we can correctly position the teapot on top of the table.
When you're happy with its position, go ahead and left-click. Let's render that to wrap things up. So there you go with the Asset Browser, a real handy utility that can be used in a wide variety of ways. I am going to go ahead and save the scene out of as Asset Browser Completed, if you would like to take a look at it.
- 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