Rough Guide to the Material Editor – Absolute Basics

This is the start of what will hopefully be a fairly extensive group of guides on the material editor. I will hope to cover all aspects of the editor in a similar fashion to the water editor. Firstly I will cover the basic material editor, then the tabs in the advanced editor, followed by ecosystems, volumetric and mixed materials. There will be a final series of guides on the function editor.

Any additions, comments or corrections will be most appreciated. It should be noted that I am using Vue 7 Complete, users of pioneer, esprit or pro studio may not have the same features. Infinite and Xstream users may have more.

The Basic Editor

The basic editor is a great for creating simple materials with a basic bump map or an alpha plane.

For the purposes of this basic guide, the control image will be a default sphere as shown below. Volumetric Light is used, and Global Radiosity is enabled.

default

default1

In order to access the Material Editor, from the “World Editor” on the right hand side, click the button below.

opentxt

Or double click on the textured sphere in the window in the area above. You will be presented with the following menu

texture-menu1

There are a number of options and selections availiable in this menu which will be explored below.

The object window
The object window is important to keep an eye on when you are editing materials as this will be the place where you see the changes you are making. The default view in the object window is a sphere, however you can change this to various other shapes.

Options
In order to change the shape of the object in the window, you should click this button and the following menu will be shown,

preview-options

Objects to be displayed
This is an area where you can select the shape you want to see the material on, Cube, Marble, Sphere, Cloud, Cylinder, Cone, XY plane, 2D plane, all of which are show in the image below (in that order).

shapes

Background Type
Background type defines what the area behind the object looks like,

Uniform gives you a standard flat blackground with a single colour. Checker gives you a checker board background.

Local light decides wether you use the light settings in your scene or just standard lighting.

Default is checker with local light enabled.

Background color
Background colour decides the colour of the checker or uniform background.

Advanced Material Editor
This button takes you to the Advanced material editor, this will be covered later. A link will be placed when it is availiable.

Zoom
The zoom button allows you to zoom in on the material in the object window. This opens up in a larger window where you are able to render the material.

zoom

Material Type
In the basic editor, there can be two types of material type, simple material which is comprised of a single material that can have a number of layers and a mixed material which is a mixture of simple materials. Mixed materials will be covered in the next part of the guide.

Mapping
Mapping defines how a texture is applied to the object in terms of its positioning, and how it will react to different positioning in the scene, and the shape of the object.

World – Standard
With this option selected, the texture is placed throughout the scene in no particular fashion, if, for example you moved the object the texture map wouldnt move. This is easier to explain in picture form, so with a noticeable texture, in this case brickwork, we will have a square object in order to demonstrate efectively.

1

Then if we turn the object 45 degrees we can see the effect.

2

Bruno021 from the Rendrosity Forum adds

When using procedural materials world standard coordinates doesn’t place textures in no fashion, it computes the origin of the material at the world’s origin (coordinates are zero in all 3 axis), which allows material variations when objects scattered around the scene use the same material. An object centered at zero in all axis will have a different material than an object placed somewhere else in the scene, but they actually use the same material, the function gives different results because the objects have different coordinates in the 3D space

World – Cylindrical
World – Cylindrical changes the texture in order to correctly map around a cylinder, however this doesnt seem to have worked.

fail

Anyone who knows whats gone wrong here please tell me so it can be amended.

World – Spherical
World – Spherical changes the texture in order to correctly map around a Sphere, this can be seen in the texture editor.

settings

And the result when it is rendered on a square.

21

However, in this case something appeared to go wrong with this, when applied to a sphere, the texture became wildly enlardged and looked awful.

3

Initially I presumed this was a scale issue so i reduced the scale from 0.5 to 0.1, and the result was the same.

4

Anyone able to tell me whats happening here would be most celebrated.

World – Parametric
Parametric automatically applies the correct positioning and texturing of an object. Here we see the cylinder

cylinder

and the square.

square

Although using parametric means that the co-ordinates are automatically set, movement of the object still shows a different texture, i.e. if we turn the cylinder the mapping doesnt move with the cylinder

cylinderside

Object – Standard to Parametric
The co-ordinate settings are the same for object related textures overall.

Using the object settings means that the texture is applied to the object, and is not floating on planes as in world, so it moves with it when it is turned. As demonstrated below.

square2

Creating new material
To create a new material using the basic texture editor is fairly simple, but the results aren’t as impressive as the advanced material editor. No single setting is required for the material, they can be mixed and matched.

For this example, we will use a photograph of a frosty path taken in my home town, Gothenburg.

dsc00134

Firstly the image needs to be cropped and copied so that it is uniform and will match when it is added to an object and no stripes or darker patches will be seen.

texture1

This is a bad example becuase of the obvious pattern in the middle, so a different part of the image needs to be selected.

texture-3

this is slightly better, not perfect by any means but workable. This is the image that will be used.

Color
Color, predictably, relates to the color of the object.

Color Map
To add a color map, you first need to enable this feature.

begin

Then load the image that you want to use as your texture, marked above in red, the editor will look as follows.

settings2

and the textured object.

textured

Overall Color
The overall color of the object dictates what color the object will eventually have regardless of the color map, for example in the image below the overall color has been set to blue.

texturedblue

Color map buttons
The buttons around the color map are displayed in the image below

buttons

The delete button, marked blue, allows you to delete the color map, essentially clearing the texture.

The rotate buttons, marked green, allow you to rotate the color map 90 degrees clockwise or anticlockwise.

the invert button, marked red, allows you to invert the color map colors as shown below.

inverted

textured2

Scale of the Maps
The scale of the maps relates to the overall size of the texture maps on the object, if for example, the scale is reduced to 0.5 and 0.5 then the size of the texture map would be halved as demonstrated in the images below.

scale

scale2

Sadly this shows up my poor selection of color map, but never mind 😛

Bump
A bump map gives an object the appearance of having bumps and lumps without acutally having any (although this can be achieved through displacement)

Bump Map
To add a bump map, you first need to enable this feature.

start

Then load the image that you want to use as your bump map, marked above in red, the editor will look as follows.

start2

and the textured object.

bump

Use color map
Select this if you want to use the color map in order to recreate the bumps that match the texture you have added.

Bump map options
The buttons around the bump map are displayed in the image below

bump2

The delete button, marked blue, allows you to delete the bump map.

The rotate buttons, marked green, allow you to rotate the bump map 90 degrees clockwise or anticlockwise.

The invert button, marked red, allows you to invert the bump map colors as shown below.

bump3

bump4

Alpha Map
An alpha map essentially a guide as to which areas should be transparent and which need to be shown. In order to demonstrate this I will use a simple grid pattern made in paint and shown below.

grid

The material used for this is red plastic, a standard material that comes with vue. In the image below you can see that a grid texture is shown.

alpha

White space in an alpha map is considered to be transparent, while black space is considered to be filled, this means that anything in the white areas will be lost.

Use color map

Alpha Map buttons
The buttons around the alpha map are displayed in the image below

alphaset

The delete button, marked blue, allows you to delete the alpha map.

The rotate buttons, marked green, allow you to rotate the alpha map 90 degrees clockwise or anticlockwise.

The invert button, marked red, allows you to invert the alpha map colors as shown below.

invertedset

invert

Reflection Amount
Reflection amount determines how reflective the surface of the material is. The higher the value, the greater the reflections. In the example below, a sphere is textured with “red metal” and the various settings of reflection are shown.

02
0% Reflection

252
25% Reflection

502
50% Reflection

752
75% Reflection

1002
100% Reflection

Reflection will be covered more later.

Highlight Intensity
Highlight intensity covers the size and brightness of the highlights that are present on the material. Hightlights are created from light that hits them either from sunlight or other smaller lights. In the example below, a sphere is textured with “red metal” and the various settings of hightlight intensity are shown.

05
0% Highlight Intensity

255
25% Highlight Intensity

506
50% Highlight Intensity

755
75% Highlight Intensity

1005
100% Highlight Intensity

Highlights will be covered in more detail later.

Transparency
Transparency determines how transparent the object becomes. In the example below, a sphere is textured with “red metal” and the various settings of reflection are shown.

04
0% Transparency

254
25% Transparency

505
50% Transparency

754
75% Transparency

1004
100% Transparency

It should be noted that Transparency adds to rendering time. Transparency will be covered in more detail later.

Add Layer
Adding a layer allows you to build complexity to the material. In the constraints of the basic editor it is still possible. Obviously the scope of this rough guide cannot cover the entire process of developing a complex material but rough examples will be shown.

Adding a layer to a simple material is similar to creating a mixed material except with less control on constraints such as positioninig, alitude, etc.

To add a layer click the “Add Layer” button and a menu will come up asking which material you want to add in this example I will use “red metal” and “cage”.

new-layer

layer-added

This gives the material the appearance below

11

If you move the material at the bottom up, more of the characteristics of top material will be displayed, the image below is a display of this, although it is fairly similar, you will notice that it is slightly less transparent.

22

Delete Layer
This allows you to delete the layer, in order to do this simply select the layer you want to delete and click this button.

Store
Storing a material allows you to temporarilly store the material you are working on so that it can be restored later, it is displayed in the boxes to the right.

store

Buttons on the Side
The buttons on the side of the editor are displayed below.

buttons2

OK saves the changes you have made and exits the editor.

X exits the editor and does not save any changes you have made.

? accesses the help file.

The button marked red allows you to create a new material with completely null settings.

The button marked green allows you to load a material from the library.

The button marked blue allows you to save a material into the library.

Any comments, improvements, corrections or suggestions are more than welcome.

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4 thoughts on “Rough Guide to the Material Editor – Absolute Basics”

  1. Excellent tutorial…. However I fail to see how reflection and highlight intensity differ… But overall a very good read…

    Look forward to more from you…

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