CAP 203 - Computer Animation III

Chapter 3: Materials and Mapping


This lesson covers material from chapter 3 of the text. Objectives important to this lesson:

  1. Slate material editor
  2. Multiple maps
  3. Applying a Decal and Using the Alternative Skeleton

Slate Material Editor

This lesson is on pages 72 and 73. This is less an exercise than a set of tips, but we can use the tips to make an exercise. There is no scene file for this lesson. I chose to open the scene file she called CandyDish because she is using an object from it for her examples.. She uses this file in another lesson, so I saved it as CandyDish01 as soon as I opened it.

  1. Material BrowserThe author introduces the lesson by reminding us that there are two modes to the 3DS Max material editor, the Compact mode and the Slate mode. Since we have not had a good lesson on the Slate mode, let's take a look at hers.

    Typically, the Material Editor opens in whichever mode you used last. Open it, and if it is in the Compact mode, switch to the Slate mode by selecting from the Mode menu.

    Her first instruction is to look for the Standard material. You will find it under the Standard heading in the Materials section of the Material/Map Browser. Notice that the browser has a Materials section, and a Maps section, as well as other sections below them.

    Drag an instance of the Standard material into the View (middle) section of the Slate Material Editor window.

  2. The material instance that appears will have a window-like appearance. When the author tells you to double-click its header, she means the part that looks like a title bar. Do that and set the Diffuse color of your material to a deep red.

  3. Follow her instruction to select the object that looks like a candle holder, and assign the new material to it. (This is not the only way to assign a material, but it is a good way.)

  4. Having shown you how to assign a color to an object, the author moves on to show you how to assign a texture to it instead. And she messes it up. Let's fix it.

    I dragged a new Bitmap instance into the view area as she said. She did not mention which texture file to select. I scrolled through the list, then chose the gold foil material that was available to me. Remember, when she says to select a bitmap, she does not specifically mean a bmp file. Any standard art file will do. The one I chose was a gif.

  5. Nodes ConnectedIn step five, she says to connect the new bitmap node to the Diffuse slot on the Material node. She told you how to open the Material Editor, but chooses not to mention how this step is done? (Cue that guy with the glasses.)

    Drag the Bitmap node to the left side of the View panel, and drag the Standard material node to the right side, if they are not already in those positions.

    The nodes have round connection points on their right and left sides. Right side is output, left side is input. Drag a line from the Bitmap node output port to the Standard node input port for Diffuse color. In the image I made for you, note the red line connecting the two yellow ports.

    The author calls our attention to a new node that appeared when you made the required connection. This node has a ridiculous name, Controller Bezier Float. It is a mixing control. A value of 1 means all bitmap (no diffuse color in the mix), which is the default value. A value of 0 would be all diffuse color (no bitmap in the mix). In my case, I can change the value of this node to get a coat of gold or a coat of red. Or a mixture of both.

  6. In step six, the author mentions that you must make the bitmap visible in the viewport if you want to see it (or see its contribution to the mixture). Her instruction is clear, but out of date. The button is called Show Shaded Material in Viewport. I will mention that, as usual, what you see in the viewport will not quite match what you see when you render.

  7. If this material needs to be shinier, note her instruction, which should be familiar. This is done through the properties of the Standard material. Access it as you did in step two.

  8. The author adds a noise map to the material in step eight. I did not get much out of this one. Try it out in class to see if you can modify the object's appearance.

Multiple Maps

We have seen the author's mailbox a few times. This time we will use three materials on it to show that we can make a material apply only to a particular set of polygons.

  1. The lesson begins on page 82. You probably do not have the scene set for this chapter, so get it from the assignment drive on the network first.

    Open the mailstart scene. Open the Material Editor in Compact mode. You should see three materials already set up for you. There is no need to make a copy of the material as the author suggests.

  2. Select the mailbox. It is an editable poly, so switch to polygon subobject level. You should be able to select the polygons indicated in the image on page 83 from the Front viewport. When I started to do so, I found they were already selected. The author is being kind to us, and pointing out that it will not matter that these polygons have an irregular shape.

    Apply the material that is in your second slot to the selected polygons. Do not deselect them.

  3. UVW Gizmo Apply a UVW Map modifier only to the selected portion of the mailbox. This step is not absolutely necessary, but it serves two purposes. The gizmo of the modifier will allow you to place the image more precisely. Also, since you can scale the gizmo, you can control the size of the decal on the model better.

    In the image on the right, I have scaled and sized the gizmo (the yellow square) to match the size I want for the decal. I have also moved the gizmo up a little on the Y axis, to make it more centered on the mailbox.

    You will want to use the View Align button if the image is reversed in the UVW map. Use the Fit button as well to see if that has a desireable effect. If you make an adjustment that you don't like, note that there is a Reset button in the Alignment rollout as well.

  4. The text says to use the Bitmap Fit button, and to choose the actual texture file again. This is most useful if the texture was sized to fit the model. If it was not, it will still set the gizmo to the proper proportions for the image. Then you can scale it on the X and Y scales together instead of eyeballing it as I did in the last step.

  5. Step five just says to do what you should already have done. Did the author need to fill the page?

  6. Step six says to turn off the Tile checkboxes for the material in the Material Editor Coodinates rollout. Yes, there used to be checkboxes there for U, V, and W. Now, there are values for Tiling for each of those axes. Set them each to 1 and you should have no tiling. Oh, wait, the image is still tiled in the viewports? Yes, it does that. Render it to see how it really looks.

  7. The author tells us to select the UVW Map modifier, right click it, and choose to Collapse All. CAUTION: make sure you do not want to change anything you have done before making this kind of choice. A precautionary save first would be a good idea. Once done, you will not be able to adjust the image placement on the mailbox, so make sure you are right. On the good side, each time you collapse a stack, your scene is reduced in file size.

  8. Step eight is entirely too generic. She should be telling you to use the process again to apply the US MAIL decal to the appropriate portions of the mailbox.

  9. In step nine, there is no more work for the model, only an observation that you could select a new empty slot in the material editor, use the eyedropper button to take a sample of the mailbox, and by doing so create a multi-submaterial object in the Material Editor.


Applying a Decal

We will combine two tutorials to save time. First another decal, the a walking bottle.

  1. Open the BottleStart file, as instructed on page 78. The instruction to modify the PSD file is not necessary for the exercise since it is already done.

  2. Select the bottle object, and add a UVW Map modifier. It is important to position and scale the gizmo of the modifier, but this time you do not need to select and of the polygons on the bottle.

  3. Open the Material Editor. Compact mode is fine. Pick a slot and add the indicated PSD file as a texture for the slot's Diffuse channel. When you add a PSD, you get the choice the text describes. Make sure to choose Individual Layer. Also make sure to click the layer, right where the mouse pointer is shown in the step three photo on page 79.

  4. Assign the material to the object by any method you like. Make the map visible in the viewport (you know what to click, don't you?) and it will appear tiled on the bottle. This time, the text is right: there are checkboxes for tiling. Turn them both (U and V) off. You will still see the map all over the bottle in the viewports, but it will only appear once in the render, corresponding to the position of the UVW Map modifier gizmo.

  5. Check the parameter noted to make sure the Material Editor is using the alpha channel of the map.

  6. The author says to select the material itself. This is best done by clicking the button for Go to Parent. It is second from the right on the Material Editor's horizontal toolbar. On that screen, play with the settings for Specular Level and Glossiness. This bottle has to be pretty for the commercial.

  7. Now save the file with a new name, and skip over to page 188. Read the advice about adding a Biped or Base Human rig to the bottle. Make sure it has no arms and add it to the scene. Scale as needed to fit the bottle.

  8. Select the bottle, add a Skin Modifier, and bind the rig and mesh together.

  9. Animate the pretty bottle. Let's see them walk around for a commercial.