CAP 161 - Digital Imaging for Animation

Lesson 6 -3DS Max: Textures


This lesson covers material in chapter 3 of the 3DS Max text. Objectives important to this lesson:

  1. The 3DS Max Material Editor
  2. Creating materials from maps and textures
  3. Modeling objects and adding materials

The chapter uses several terms that sound like synonyms, but the terms are used to mean rather different things.

  • map - an image file that can be applied to any of several attributes of a material, such as a diffuse map, a specular map, or a normal map
  • texture - an image file that is meant to look like the surface of a real world object
  • material - a combination of any number of maps and textures that can be applied to objects or subobjects in a scene; typically components are combined in the Material Editor to create a material

Exercise 3-1, copying a model

To attempt a demonstration of some features from the chapter, first we need to learn another technique:

  1. Start a new scene in 3DS Max.
  2. Create a teapot in the perspective viewport. Do not make it very large, because you will make several copies of it.
  3. Click the Select and Move tool on the toolbar, and select the teapot. Move the teapot to the left rear corner of the construction grid. (See the image on the right.)
  4. Hold down a shift key on the keyboard, and drag the red arrowhead of the move gizmo to the right: notice that the teapot is being copied.
  5. In the Clone Options dialog box that appears, leave Copy selected and set the spinner control to make 2 copies. They will appear in the scene equally spaced apart.

  6. Hold down a control key and click all three teapots. Release the control key and hold down a shift key again. Shift drag on the y-axis to create three more teapots as I have done in the next image.
  7. Save this file for use in the next assignment.


In the next assignment, you will use the material editor to modify several materials and apply them to the teapots you created. The Material Editor is discussed on page 48 and 49 of the Maestri book. Like most of the tools in 3DS Max, it has many settings. Some basic information about some key features:

  • ambient color - the surface color of an object when it is exposed to indirect light
  • diffuse color - the surface color of an object when it is exposed to direct light
  • specular color - the color of reflections (highlights) on an object

Exercise 3-2, shader types

For this exercise, read the lesson on pages 50 and 51 about standard materials and shaders.

  1. Open the file you saved from the first exercise. Select the first teapot you made.
  2. Open the Material Editor. The easy way to do this is to press the letter M on the keyboard. You can also click the button on the toolbar for the Material Editor.
  3. The Material Editor has a series of sample slots at the top. By default, you will see two rows of three slots. That will be sufficient for now. Select the first sample slot.
  4. You will change the Shader dropdown for this slot to Anisotropic. The short explanation is that this means light is reflected from this kind of shader differently on the x and y axes. Work with the color and the Specular Highlight settings for this material, then click the Apply Material button (illustrated on page 48.) Modify the Specular Highlight values until the material looks interesting, then save the file again. Make a note of the values you used for the material.
  5. Move on to the next teapot, and the next Material Editor sample slot. Make this a Blinn shader type, play with the values again, and save again. Make a note of the values you used.
  6. Continue with the next two teapots, using Metal and Multi-layer shaders respectively. Make a note of all settings used.
  7. Pick two of the remaining shader types from page 51 for the remaining teapots. Again, modify the settings, colors, etc., and record the values you used. Save the file when done. As we did last week, render one frame to see the actual appearance of your shaders. The appearance in the viewport is only an approximation.

Review the material in the rest of the chapter before attempting the tutorial that begins on page 64. Try this tutorial in class, consulting with your classmates to determine methods that work for it.

Tying things together, you should begin a project assignment that uses techniques from both texts.

  1. In 3DS Max, begin constructing a scene that you will base on the setting from Ahearn, chapter 5. You may make the objects in the scene different shapes, but the overall appearance should be similar.
  2. Using the Material Editor in 3DS Max, create materials based on map images from your work in that chapter. You should use as many of the materials you created as you can, to provide some variety in the scene.
  3. Apply materials to objects in the scene, and note what you would need to revise to make the scene more believable.