Compact Material Editor
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Main toolbar Material Editor flyout (Material Editor): Compact

Rendering menu Material Editor

The Compact Material Editor is a material editor interface that uses a smaller dialog than the Slate Material Editor.

In general, the Slate interface is more versatile when you are designing materials, while the Compact interface is more convenient when you just need to apply materials that have already been designed.

The Compact Material Editor does have a few options that the Slate Material Editor does not; in particular:


To view the Compact Material Editor:

To give a material a different name:

To make a copy of a preview material:

To get a material from a scene:

If a material that you want to change has been saved in the scene, but not in the Compact Material Editor, you can load the material by getting it from the scene.

  1. Click a sample slot to make it active.

    Be careful not to click the sample slot of a material you want to use later.

  2. On the Compact Material Editor toolbar, click (Get Material).

    A modeless Material/Map Browser is displayed.

  3. In the Browse From group box at the upper left, make sure that either Selected or Scene is chosen.

    The Selected option lists only materials in the current selection. If no objects are selected, the list of materials is blank.

    The Scene option lists all the materials currently in the scene.

  4. In the list of materials, double-click the name of the material you want.

    You can also drag the material name to the sample slot.

    The material you chose replaces the previous material in the active sample slot.

WarningWhen you get a material from a scene, it is initially a hot material.

To apply a material to objects in a scene:

NoteWhen you apply a material to an object or selection, that material becomes a hot material (its sample slot is displayed with white corner brackets). When you change the properties of a hot material, the scene immediately updates to reflect those changes. Every object with that material changes its appearance, not just the objects in the current selection.

To remove a material from an object:

  1. Select the object.
  2. In the MAXScript Listener, enter $.material=undefined.

To put a material back into a scene:

To select objects that have the same material applied:

When a material in the Material Editor is applied to objects in the scene, you can select the objects from the Material Editor.

  1. Click a sample slot that contains a material in the scene.

    White corner brackets indicate materials that are in the scene.

  2. Click ( Select By Material).

    This button is unavailable unless the active sample slot contains a material in the scene.

    The Select Objects dialog opens. The names of objects with the active material applied are highlighted when the dialog appears.

  3. Click Select to select objects that have the active material applied to them.

    You can also change the selection by choosing other objects. If you change the selection, you can then apply the active material to newly selected objects by clicking (Assign Material To Selection).

To get a material from a library:

  1. On the Material Editor toolbar, click ( Get Material).

    3ds Max opens a modeless Material/Map Browser.

  2. Open a library group.
  3. In the list of library materials, double-click the name of the material you want.

    The material you chose replaces the previous material in the active sample slot.

To save a material in a library:

  1. Click the sample slot that has the material you want to save.
  2. On the Material Editor toolbar, click ( Put To Library.
  3. 3ds Max opens a Put To Library dialog).
  4. Change the material name or leave it as is, and then click OK.

    The material is saved in the currently open library. If no library is open, a new library is created. You can save the new library as a file using the Material/Map Browser controls.


The Material Editor interface consists of a menu bar at the top, sample slots (the spheres) below the menu bar, and toolbars along the bottom and side of the sample slots. For links to topics describing these interface elements as well as overviews of materials and maps, see the end of this section.

The Material Editor interface also includes a number of rollouts whose contents depend on the active material (click a material's sample slot to make it active). Each rollout contains standard controls such as drop-down lists, check boxes, numeric fields with spinners, and color swatches.

In many cases, associated with a control (typically to its right) is a map shortcut button: a small, square, blank button, which you can click to apply a map to the control. If you have assigned a map to a control, the button displays the letter M. An uppercase M means that the corresponding map is assigned and active. A lowercase m means that the map is assigned but inactive (turned off). You turn maps on and off with the check boxes on the Maps rollout (see this procedure and the one following it). You can also right-click the map shortcut button to access functions such as copy and paste (see Copying and Pasting Materials, Maps, Bitmaps, and Colors).

For choosing materials, see Material/Map Browser. For applying materials using drag and drop techniques, see Dragging and Dropping Maps and Materials.

For an overview of how to use the Material Editor, see Designing Materials.