Rough Guide to the Material Editor – Color and Alpha Tab – Part 3

In this third part of the the rough guide to the material editor, we will be exploring the Color and Alpha Tab of the advanced material editor

Part 4 will jump into the function editor for a preview of some of the cool stuff that can be done in there. Filters will also be covered there.

There will be a reference guide to the shapes of the noise functions in Part 4.

Firstly we will look at the Advanced Material Editor Color and Alpha Tab. Unless stated, all mapping is as “object parametric”.

Coloring Mode
Coloring mode allows you to determing how you want to approach the coloring of your material, there are two options, mapped picture and procedural colors.

Mapped Picture

The Mapped Picture option allows you to create a color scheme from an image file.


The options it brings up are as follows.

Picture File
The picture file displays information about the size of the image that is loaded (in pixels) and its directory path.

In order to load a picture file to map to the material firstly click the “load image” button (marked purple in the image below) and browse to the image you want.


for the purpose of this example I will use the picture below so it is more visible what is happening to the image with different settings.


A work of art, yes I know.. Anyway, now that this image is loaded you will notice that the material now looks as follows.



Color Blend
Color blend allows you to blend the texture map with a second color.

Blend with color
This option allows you to change the color you wish to blend your texture map with. To change it select a new color by clicking on it and selecting a new one from the color swatch.

% slider
The percentage slider allows you to decide how much you want the second color to be shown. In the example below, the texture has been blended with turquoise.

0% Blend

25% Blend

50% Blend

75% Blend

100% Blend

Color mask
A Color mask basically paints over the top of the texture map that you have applied to the material. The level of transparency of the “paint” depends on the % that is applied it will however be there even at 0%

0% blend with mask

25% blend with mask

50% blend with mask

75% blend with mask

100% blend with mask

Color correction
Color correction allows you to select colors that you want to apply to the material. In order to change the colors, click on the colored box and select a new color. In the example below purple has been selected.


With purple color correction

Image Scale
Image scale refers to the size of the mapped image you have applied. The smaller the scale is the more repeats you will have present. In the image below the scale has been reduced on x and y to 0.5 each.


You can also have x and y at different values, this stretches or shrinks (depending on wether you increase or decrease the value) the map in the appropriate direction.

With X decreased to 0.5, Y still at 1

With Y decreased to 0.5, X still at 1

Image Offset
Image offset determines where on the object that material lies. Initially the texture map starts with the co-ordinates 0, 0. However you can offset the map in order to move the material.

X offset 0.5 Y remains at 0

Y offset 0.5 X remains at 0

Interpolation Type
The vue 7 manual says

When the material is seen from very close, you may see pixels, due to the limited resolution of the picture. To reduce this effect, choose an Interpolation type method:
• None: No over sampling.
• Bi-linear: Bi-linear interpolation between pixels.
• Normalized: Values proportional to the distance to the corners of the pixel.
• Bi-cubic: Bi-cubic interpolation between pixels (continuous derivative).

When tested this shows the following.




Bi Cubic

Tiling decides how many times something should be repeated and how it will be presented. There are three options availliable to tile a mapped image in both X and Y.
(Note that the scale has been reduced to 0.2 in both X and Y to show the effect.)

This keeps repeating the texture time after time with no end, for example, bbbbbbbbb….

X + Y

Mirror inverts the image texture and repeats it, for example bdbdbdbdbd.

X Mirrored Y Repeated

Y Mirrored X Repeated

Once allows the image to be shown once, when this is used the space around the texture is considered an alpha plane and is transparent.

X Repeat – Y Once

Y Repeat – X Once

The vue user handbook describes this as..

Automatic: The mapping technique is chosen automatically, depending on the object onto
which the material is applied (e.g. Spherical for a sphere, cylindrical for a cylinder…).
• Flat: Vertical projection / slide projector type, oriented so as to project the picture on the
ground; values don’t depend on altitude.
• Faces: Slide projector type of projection oriented along one of the three world axes. For each
point, the projection axis is the closest axis to the normal vector of the object.
• Cylindrical: Mercator projection: the picture is wrapped around a cylinder around the vertical
axis before being projected.
• Spherical: The picture is projected so that it covers exactly a sphere. Since the picture wraps
around 180° vertically, and 360° horizontally, the scale seems to double vertically.
• Torical: The picture is projected so that it covers exactly a torus. A strange, and not very
useful mapping mode, hum…

Procedural Colors

The Procedural Colors option allows you to create a function driven color sheme,


The options it brings up are as follows.

Overall Color
Overall color allows you to select color that you want to apply to the material. In order to change the color, click on the colored box and select a new color.

Color Map
A color map is basically a graph which assigns a numeric value to a color and allows them to be applied to noise maps, fractals, bump maps etc.

To edit the color map there are two methods, firstly simply double click on the color map (highlighted red below)


or alternatively right click on it where you will be presented with options to load a premade color map, edit the map or save it. When selecting “edit”, the following menu is opened,


Notice that the left most side of the map has the value of -1, the middle has 0 and the right side has +1. The color map assigns colors to values.

To add a new color to the map, click the position on the map you want to add the color and then click “new keycolor” which will open the color swatch. select the color and you will notice that the map is changed. In the example below I have added blue and red at positions -0.5 and +0.5 and yellow and black to -1 and +1.


Once some color production is added (see below), in this case clumps, you can see how the map is used.


This is best explained if we use a grayscale color map with the keycolor black at -1 and white at +1 and apply it to the same color production.



White areas on the object have the value of +1, black areas have the value of -1 as assigned by the color production (see below) The gray areas represent the values in between -1 and +1.

Bruno021 Adds

all colour maps come with a black fringe at the top. This fringe represents the opacity value for the map. It is 100% black by default, which means the colour map applied to the material is 100% opaque. If you modify values and add some white or grey key colours, then the colour map will become more or less transparent on the object according to the grey values you enter ( black is 100% opaque, white is 100% transparent), and according to their position (-1 to 1) on the fractal function that will be used to “map” the colour onto the object.

Color Production
Color production determines how the colours determined in the color map will be applied to the material. To add a new color production node, double click on the sphere highlighted red in the image below.


You will be presented with a selection of fractals and noises, select one and colors from your color map will be applied to it. Here I have applied “clumps”


Given that black areas represent -1 in the color map and white areas represent +1 in the color map and grey the values imbetween we should be able to see where the colors will be displayed on the material.


Altering the position of colors in the color map will change the look of the material.

Color Filter
The color filter will be covered in part 4.

Function Scale
Function Scale determines the size of the mapping of the material.

X at 0.5, Y at 1.0, Z at 1.0

X at 1.0, Y at 0.5, Z at 1.0

X at 1.0, Y at 1.0, Z at 0.5

Filters will be covered in Part 4 in detail along with the editing material colors in the function editor.

As usual, comments, feedback, additions, corrections more than welcomed, Hope this helps.

1 thought on “Rough Guide to the Material Editor – Color and Alpha Tab – Part 3”

  1. Great stuff. The pic’s help a lot.
    Interesting comment from Bruno021, still trying to to see how the transparency values there effect the overall material, they don’t seem to be having any effect.

Comments are closed.