3ds Max gives you
a wide variety of options for designing materials. If you’re new
to designing and using materials, read these topics for a general
idea about working with materials, and what the most important options
Materials make objects
look more convincing.
For more details, follow
the links in the workflow outline.
In general, when you
create a new material and apply it to an object, you follow these
- Choose the renderer you plan to use,
and make it the active renderer: see
Assign Renderer Rollout.
It is a good idea to
design materials with a particular renderer in mind. The
ray renderer is the best choice when you
need to model physically accurate lighting. The
scanline renderer does not demand precise
lighting, and it supports some effects that the mental ray renderer
- Choose the
For mental ray rendering,
we recommend that you use materials from the
Materials grouop. These are commonly used
materials (ceramic, concrete, hardwood, and so on) that have accurate
real-world properties. Autodesk Materials are based on the
& Design material.
Arch & Design is a general-purpose material that also has real-world
properties, and a large number of options. When you grow familiar
with mental ray rendering, you might choose to use the Arch &
Design material itself, or some of the
ray materials that are also available.
For scanline rendering,
the most general-purpose material types are Standard and Raytrace.
For both of these material types, you must also choose a
- When you have decided on a material type,
Slate Material Editor.
Slate Material Editor window
Left: Material/Map Browser panel
Middle: The active View (you can set up more than one View)
Lower right: Parameter Editor panel
- Drag a material of the type you want
Browser panel to the
3ds Max displays the
material as a node in the active View.
Example of a material
- Double-click the material node to display its parameters
in the Parameter Editor panel.
- Use the
Editor to enter settings for the various
components: diffuse color, glossiness, opacity,
and so on.
in the Parameter Editor
(Double-click a node
to display the node’s parameters)
the components you want to map, and adjust the map parameters.
You assign a map to
a material by “wiring” the map and material nodes together.
Using Maps to Enhance a Material for
an introduction to mapping, and
Wiring Nodes for detailed
information about wiring nodes in the active View.
- On the Slate Material Editor toolbar,
click (Assign Material
To Selection) to
material to the object.
- If necessary, adjust the
mapping coordinates in order to orient
maps with objects correctly.
- Choosing a Material Type
Every material has a
type. In general, you choose a material type based on what you are
trying to model, and how accurate (in terms of real-world, physical
lighting) you want your model to be.
- Lights and Shading
Materials work in combination
The intensity of light that falls on a surface determines the intensity
of color to display.
- Applying a Material to
You use the Material
Editor to apply a material to objects.
- Using Maps to Enhance a Material
Maps provide images,
patterns, color adjustments, and other effects you can apply to
the visual/optical components of a material. Without maps, material
design in 3ds Max is limited. Maps give the Material Editor its
full flexibility, and can give you dramatic results.
- Mapping Coordinates
An object assigned a
2D mapped material (or a material that contains 2D maps) must have
mapping coordinates. These coordinates specify how the map is projected
onto the material, and whether it is projected as a "decal," or
is tiled or mirrored. Mapping coordinates are also known as UV or
These letters refer to coordinates in the object's own space, as
opposed to the XYZ coordinates that describe the scene as a whole.
- Showing Maps in Viewports
You can use either 3ds Max software
or your hardware driver (DirectX 9.0c and above) to display mapped
materials on the surfaces of objects in shaded viewports with the
- Animating Materials
This topic provides
some suggestions about how to animate materials.
- Saving a Material
While a material is
applied to an object, it is part of the scene, and is saved with
the scene. You can also save a material by putting it into a material
- Material XML Exporter Utility
You can export materials
you create in 3ds Max to XML files, which can then be shared
with other 3ds Max users or used in AutoCAD Architecture (formerly Autodesk
Architectural Desktop) to modify material definitions.