Rough Guide to the Material Editor – Part 2 – Getting to Know the Function Editor Graph

In this part of the rough guide we will look in more depth at the graph window and the controls that are availiable.

Using the Graph

There are various controls which allow you to move around and view different areas in the graph window and access different controls.

  • To pan around the graph, drag with the right mouse button held down
  • To zoom in and out use the zoom buttons
  • To zoom into an area, click the zoom area button and select and area to zoom into
  • To select a node click on it, its properties will be displayed int he bottom left corner
  • Nodes can be moved by dragging them to where ever you want them to be displayed

Top Buttons

Along the top of the graph there are various buttons.  Only 4 will be looked at here as the rest are fairly self explanatory.

Preview Button.

preview

This button allows you to decide how you want to view the nodes and their connections.   I personally found that the “show all preivews” is my favourite as it allows me to see everything. that is availiable.

Show Parameter Connections

parameter

This button toggles the view of the start of links at the side of nodes (highlighted red), I find this quite useful to have activated.

Function Node Preview

functiongraph2

The function node preview allows you to see the details of your nodes in graphical format.

functiongraph

Function Output Observer

matprev

The function output observer is a great tool which allows you to see the material that you are creating.  It is updated as you alter the material.

function-output

Types of Nodes

There are a number of different nodes, each with different shapes and functions.  Below is an introduction to their purpose and how to find them.

Input Node

An Input node determines physical properties such as position, direction of normals, altitude etc. input nodes appear at the top of the graph and look as follows.

output

Highlighted red is the position of the button to add the input nodes, Highlighted blue is the position of the current input nodes.

The menu shown demonstrates the options that are availiable after a right click

In order to edit these nodes, you must connect further nodes (listed below) to create rules.

Output Node

An Output node determines a property that should be displayed on the material, i.e. color, bump, reflection etc. Output nodes appear at the bottom of the graph and look as follows.

input

Highlighted red is the position of the button to add the output nodes, Highlighted blue is the position of the current output nodes.

The menu shown demonstrates the options that are availiable after a right click

In order to edit these nodes, you must connect further nodes (listed below) to create rules.

Noise Node

Adding a noise node can help determine the mixture of effects in a material.  Noise can be described as a pattern, in this case a mixture of numbers between -1 and +1 giving a greyscale image (remembering that -1 is black and +1 is white.  So adding a noise node allows variables such as a colour map, for example, to be applied over an object in certain positions. (this will be described in more detail in part 3)

noise2

You will notice that there are a large number of pattern options availiable, these will all be covered and displayed in part 3. The noise node button is highlighted in red.

Fractal Node

Fractal nodes are similar, but a lot more complex than noise nodes, and control features including landscapes and oceans.

fractal1

You will notice that there are a large number of options availiable, these will all be covered in depth later. The fractal node button is highlighted in red.

Color Node

A color node determines the color of the material by assigning a color map with values between -1 and +1, a series of colors or a single color.  This color map can then be manipulated by further nodes e.g. noise/fractal/texture to determine where the colors are placed on the material.

color 

There are a number of different types of color nodes, these will all be covered in part 3.  A color node can be linked to most other nodes.  The color node button is highlighted in red.

Texture Node

Adding a texture node allows you to create a material based on a image file e.g. jpg, the image is transformed into greyscale in order to apply a -1 and +1 values.

texture

There are a number of different texture map nodes, which will be covered in detail later. The texture node button is highlighted in red.

Filter Node

Filter nodes allow you to create a filter (a graph) which mean that you can decide which numbers (-1 to +1) take precedence over others, i.e. should be shown more.

filter

Filter nodes will be covered in detail in part 3. The filter node button is highlighted in red.

Constant Node

Constant nodes enforce values that stay constant, i.e. in terms of a color, it will be the same all over the object.

constant

Constant nodes will be covered in more detail later. The constant node button is highlighted in red.

Turbulence Node

Turbulence nodes at turbulence to a material distorting any maps that are present, to use turbulence a map must firstly be applied.

turbulence

The turbulence node button is highlighted in red.  The images below show the effect of turbulence on a simple line noise node.

nodistor

No distortion

distor

With distortion

Turbulence will be covered in more detail later.

Combiner Node

A combiner node allows you to mix two nodes together in order to create a hybrid material.

combiner

Notice that the combiner node has two link stems at the top, this allows you to connnect it to two other nodes in order to mix them.

Combiner nodes will be covered in more detail later. The combiner node button is highlighted in red.

Math Node

Math nodes apply mathematical equations to a material which alter the input number, for example if an input value is 0.8 and a sine math node is applied to it, then the returned value is sin0.8.  This alters the colour of the material.

math

Math nodes will be covered in more detail later. The math node button is highlighted in red.

Dynamics Node

Dynamic nodes control movement of materials when they are used in animations.

dynamic

Dynamic Nodes will be covered in more detail later. The dynamics node button is highlighted in red.

Meta Node

Think of metanodes as metablobs, they allow you to save groups of nodes from the graph and load them into new materials.

Meta Nodes will be covered in more detail later. The meta node button is highlighted in red.

Below is a quick reference to the shapes of the nodes.

quickref

Adding a Node and Editing Links

In order to add a node, you can either:

  • click into an empty space (which will become highlighted with a red box) and add a node.
  • click on an exisiting node and then add a node (note that this will not add, but change the existing node to what you add)
  • right click and select the node you want from the menu that appears
  • click on an existing link and add a node, this will create the node between the two existing nodes.

In order to create a new link you must drag the small shoot of a link that appears at the top of the new node

linkmale

And drag it to the appropriate node you want to connect it to  (possible outcomes are denoted by a coloured circle)

linkfemale 

Links have different colours which allow you to quickly determine what their purpose is.

graph

  • A blue link denote a connection to a node with a numerical value i.e. a noise
  • Red links denote connections to nodes determining position of the material
  • Green links denote a connection to a colour node
  • Purple links denote a connection to a node that controls co-ordinates of the material
  • Grey links are connections that are incomplete/undefined (if your material isnt changing when you use the function editor, check for a grey connection)

To remove link, click on the link in order to select it and hit the delete button.

There will be more coming later regarding the advanced material editor, specifically the colour and alpha tab and the start of using the function editor to control colour.

5 thoughts on “Rough Guide to the Material Editor – Part 2 – Getting to Know the Function Editor Graph”

  1. I have Pro Studio so my access to these is limited to changing existing textures, but this information still applies and is very valuable. Thanks for taking it up from the basics for me.

  2. Hi thanks again for doing this. I think you have your input node and output node images reversed. Out put nodes are at bottom. Input at top.

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