Join Aaron F. Ross for an in-depth discussion in this video Using Preview windows, part of 3ds Max: Advanced Materials (2017).
- [Instructor] Let's look at some tips and tricks for the material editor that will, hopefully, speed your workflow and improve productivity. Before we begin working with materials, you kind of need to decide which renderer you're going to use. And this is for a couple of reasons. For one, materials are not equally well-supported by all renderers. For example, the physical material renders quite well in ART or Autodesk Raytracer. But the physical material is not well-supported by the default scanline renderer.
Also, you need to choose your renderer before working with materials because the material editor itself depends upon the current production renderer, and that means if you've chosen the wrong renderer while you're working on materials, you're kind of flying blind. You're not seeing what you're going to get. So you need to choose your production renderer before you go into the material editor. Let's do that. Go into Render Setup on the main toolbar and switch the Renderer over from Scanline, the default, I'm gonna use ART or Autodesk Raytrace.
Close the Render Setup dialogue and open the Material Editor either by clicking on the button on the main toolbar or by using the hot key which is M. With the Slate Material Editor open, I'll maximize it, and let's create a physical material. In the Material Map Browser, under Materials, General, we've got Physical. Just drag that over into the View. I'm not gonna be using this Navigator pane over here and I need that space for my Parameter Editor.
I'll just click the X button over here to close the Navigator. If I need to get that back I can go over to the menu and choose Tools and reactivate the navigator. Okay let's double click on this new Physical Material in order to load it into the Parameter Editor and we can choose a Preset here. Let's go for Satin Varnished Wood and a bunch of new nodes get created in our shading network. If you can't see them all, you can use the middle mouse button to pan around in the view.
You can use the mouse wheel to zoom in and out. Let's rename the Physical Material. I'll go up to its name here and call it wood physical. On each node we do see a small preview and we can double click that to make it larger. But it's actually a better idea in many cases to launch a separate window for the preview. I'll double click that again to shrink it down and then right click on the material node here and get the context sensitive menu and choose Open Preview Window.
And it's set to automatically update. If we make changes to the material parameters then this sample will update. We can also resize it, we can make it larger or smaller but I think the most helpful actually is to dock it to the interface. Just click on the name at the top and drag around and you'll see a bunch arrows and these indicate where you can dock in the interface. You'll see a preview of where you're going to dock to. I prefer to dock it up here above the main graph and now it's there.
We've launched that Material Preview from a specific node but we can also preview any node in our View just by choosing it from this pull down list. I can choose the Diffuse channel and now I'm seeing the Bitmap node here. I can go back up to the top level of the material once again. Additionally we can make this preview follow our current selection if desired. Choose that, Follow Current Selection, and then when we click on a node in the graph that's what we see in this preview.
Okay I'll set this back to wood physical. And finally we can also create a new preview window. We can have as many here as we want. I can go over to the Bitmap and select it and then right click and choose Open Preview Window. And then, once again, drag and drop that. And if we drag over to the right hand arrow that means that this preview will be placed to the right of the existing one. And we can move them around if we want to, just click and drag and drop on top of the arrow. If you want to change the display options for the preview you can't do it by right clicking on the preview itself, you've got to go to the node that that preview is displaying.
Right click on wood physical, for example, and turn on Show Background in Preview. And now we're seeing a checkered background in that preview. That's how to work with preview windows in the Slate Material Editor.
- Streamlining material editor workflow
- Managing XREFs and materials
- Laying out a scene for material testing
- Using the Physical Material
- Controlling highlights with Roughness
- Directing reflections and refractions
- Simulating translucency and scattering
- Building a shading network
- Combining and color correcting maps
- Baking maps such as ambient occlusion
- Procedural mapping with Substance
- Using relief maps: bump, normal, and displacement