Join Craig Barr for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a simple material, part of Unreal: Introduction to Materials.
- [Instructor] The materials in Unreal engine are very powerful and complex. However, with a few starting points, you'll be able to pick up the basics and begin to harness the power that working with materials in Unreal provides. Let's take a look at some of the key basics with materials in the Unreal editor. So, before we dive into the materials, it's important to look at some of the basics around the Unreal engine UI. So, the first thing we want to look at is the view port here. Now whatever I'm working within the view port, as you continue with the project here, with the materials, there may be times that you want to get rid of some of this clutter.
So Unreal, by default, will put in things like, icons for light directions; these are spheres for reflection captures. Sometimes, I don't want those in the view and they just kind of get in the way. So to turn those off, what we'll do is we'll hit the G key. So, if I just press the G key right now, we'll see that nothing happens. And you may find as you're working with materials in here that you'll quite often have that. That's simply because the view port is not active. To activate the view port, just middle mouse click anywhere within the view port and you've now made it active.
Now try pressing G and you'll that all those icons will disappear. And you'll see it just kind of cleans up the environment a bit. Further to that, if we want to work with anything specific, our hero guitar asset is here within our scene. What I like to do is just simply click on a piece of the guitar, for example the guitar body, and then I'll just press F and that will focus in, or zoom in on the object that we're working with. And we of course can do this with any specific object. If we want to work on, maybe some of these components in here, I can simply zoom in on them.
Another thing that I've gone ahead and created for you, to make it easier as we progress in the project, are a few of these bookmarks. So if you go to the top left corner, in the little arrow pull down in the view port and go to bookmarks, you'll see that I've created a few in here. So if we jump to bookmark one for example, it's kind of this overview of the entire scene. And I've created a few simple bookmarks as we go along. So you're welcome to use those. If you ever want to create your own bookmark, just simply click on that pull down menu, go to bookmarks, and set bookmark to a current thing there.
And you can set it to any bookmark number as well. And you'll see that access to these is also available through some hot keys; one, two, three, et cetera, depending on how many you have. So there's a couple, simple ways to access zooming in while we're working on materials within our scene, because our main focus here is the guitar. So, let's take a look at some of the other things here that are important in the Unreal engine UI before we jump in and get familiar with everything here. So on the right, we have our object list, and this is where you're going to see all of the different components of our scene.
Now right now, we don't need to be too concerned with that. Where we're really going to spend a lot of our time is down here on the bottom, in the content browser. The content browser really is the key to Unreal engine projects. And in here is where we're going to find all of our content. This is where we bring in any assets, whether they're meshes, materials, textures, anything else for that matter. So in this case here, we're going to work with the content that we have in the content browser and we're going to create new content. We're going to build content and we'll even import some textures and things as we progress.
You'll notice that there are three folders here. Now the starter content folder, we're going to use as some examples later on, but this is something that we set when we built the project, and you'll have that in there. All of the maps that are available for this project are also in here. So these serve as effective starting points. So when you click on these, you can start from each lesson as we progress. And then you'll see down in learning, I've gone ahead and actually created all the materials for you, so that you have, by lesson, if there's an example available, all of the little basic materials created as we progress in here as well.
So let's go back up to the root, the content here. And this is where I want you to work. We're going to actually create a brand new folder in here. And we're going to look at how we can create materials. So, let's start our own folder, that we're going to work in. It's good principle to actually start with creating a simple folder. We'll just create new folder by right clicking in the content browser, and you'll see that it highlights the name. With a capital M, I'm going to name this one Materials. And this is going to be our working folder as we progress; as we build new materials and as we add to them and change them, this is where we'll add anything that we create.
So we have our Material folder selected. Let's now double click on that folder and jump inside. You can see that it's empty. We haven't created anything in here now. Well let's create our first new material. There are two basic ways to do this in Unreal engine four. We can come up to the green pull down menu here. Click that, under add new. And we can go up to material and simply click that to create one, or anywhere within the content browser, we can right mouse button click, and get the exact same menu. So I'm just going to click material here and you can see that it highlights to name that material.
Now, before we do that, I think it's important that we review a few principles of naming conventions when it comes to working with Unreal engine projects. So let's take a look at that. I'm just going to click in the content browser and we'll come back to a way to access that material and to rename it in a moment. Unreal engine four naming conventions. In here we're going to take a look at a couple of basic examples of naming conventions that are often followed in Unreal engine projects. These are important because they keep things organized.
So let's first take a look at some of the basic ones that you'll find in this scene or in others. Typically, what it is, it's a one or two letter prefix followed by an underscore. So in this case here, SM_ = static mesh. BP_ for example be blueprints, that's visual scripting within Unreal engine. And we can see T_ for texture. We'll be utilizing that throughout this course. And M_ for Material. And what this means is anytime you create an asset in Unreal, it's important to follow this naming convention.
This will keep things organized so that anyone, regardless of who it is, can take a quick look at a project and see the difference between a material, a texture, a static mesh for example, a blueprint and et cetera. And this is a really easy way to keep your project organized by following a few basic principles with naming. So naming materials in Unreal engine four; the basic name here is that we want to follow prefix, which in our case for materials is M underscore, base name underscore, variant underscore, suffix.
Well let's take a look at an example of that. M for material underscore. In the case of what we're doing here, we're applying materials to a guitar. So I have M underscore guitar, and I have underscore body for a variation on that, because I may have other components of the guitar that I may be applying that material to. And I've also applied an 01 as examples of iterations of maybe, different body colors. Now that suffix could also be different uses when it comes to textures. It could be a C for a color map or an N for a normal map or whatever it may be to customize the texture based on what it is you're trying to achieve for that material.
Let's jump back into Unreal Engine and take a look at naming our materials here. So back in Unreal Engine, we've created a basic empty material. Now, by left clicking on that and highlighting the material, I can either right click and go to rename that material or at any time I can simply left click and hit F2 and that will highlight the name and the material. Let's name this material capital M underscore capital G for guitar underscore capital B for body So M_Guitar_Body, simple as that.
So we've seen how we can create a simple empty material here in Unreal and that also by following a few basic rules in naming conventions, that creating materials for your Unreal project is actually very straightforward.
- Creating a simple material
- Applying materials to objects
- Editing materials
- Using textures with materials
- Creating PBR materials
- Adding effects such as transparency and animation