3ds Max Shaders for Stingray - Part 1 - Introduction
In this tutorial, you take a look at the scene you will be using and learn about standard material conversions.
- Recorded in: 3ds Max 2017.1
- This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2017.1 Update or higher.
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If you have used Stingray in conjunction with 3ds Max in the past, you may have been surprised at how 3ds Max materials carry over.
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At times, you find yourself missing bitmaps or sometimes complete material definitions.
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Let's explore these situations using this simple scene named Pier_start.max, showing a section of a pier.
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This scene is available for download using the link found in this movie description section.
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The idea is to prep a scene in 3ds Max so that when exported to Stingray, all transferred materials appear exactly as they should in Stingray.
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This includes all properly defined channels such as maps for Color, Normal and Roughness characteristics among others.
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Also, an animated material should transfer properly so that it can be viewed in real-time in Stingray.
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At this time a default light gray material is applied to all objects in the 3ds Max scene.
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The objects themselves are pretty straightforward, mostly primitives and extruded shapes that have been manipulated using standard 3ds Max commands.
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All objects have been unwrapped and converted to Editable polys. An omni light has been added as a light source on top of the lamppost.
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When you consider building materials for a scene, your workflow is often dictated by your personal choices as well as the rendering engine you use.
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However, if your goal is to output the scene to Stingray, then you need to be careful in planning your materials.
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Material types like Arch & Design and Physical materials do not carry over too well.
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The Scanline Standard material works up to a point, but you will inevitably have to make corrections in Stingray.
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The best way is to work with DirectX Shaders, which work the same way in 3ds Max and in Stingray.
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Let's experiment a bit:
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Select all objects and Shift+Move them to the side to create a copy.
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You will be creating two sets of materials, one based on the Scanline Standard Material, the other on the newer Physical Material type.
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This will give you a good idea of what to expect when you go into Stingray. We'll play with the DirectX Shader a little later.
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Press M to go to the Slate Material Editor. There is a number of PBR bitmaps shown as nodes.
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These were generated to cater for Normal, Roughness and Occlusion maps among others as befits Physically Based Rendering textures.
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I'll discuss these and how they were created in a follow-up movie in this tutorial series.
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For now, let us create a Physical material and a Standard material and hook these textures to them.
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Start with the Physical Material. Create a new one in the Editor and rename it Pier_PM, PM for Physical Material.
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Hook the color image to its Base Color map and apply it to the first dock.
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You can also apply it to the lamp post but not to the globe itself, this requires a different material.
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You also want to set this material to Realistic Display in the viewport, that's the second icon in the flyout.
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Next, drag the normal map's output and add a Normal Bump map, and hook that to the material's Bump channel.
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Ultimately, you want to hook the Specular map to the Reflectivity channel,
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and also the Roughness and Metal maps to their respective channels as well.
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You can even use the Roughness map in the Reflection Color Map channel as well.
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Note that there is no channel for the Ambient Occlusion map, so we'll leave that alone for now.
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Next create a Standard material and repeat the exercise,
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using all textures except the Metal and Ambient Occlusion maps.
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Rename the material: Pier_SM, SM for Standard Material.
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Apply the new material to the second dock,
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and make it visible in the viewport.
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At this point, the two docks seem fairly identical.
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Let's see how they translate to Stingray.
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Start Stingray and create a new Basic project.
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Choose a folder for it. In my case, I have a folder named Stingray_PRJs on my D_Drive, I'll just create a subfolder named "DX_Shader" in it.
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Give your project a name, such as "Pier_test" and place it in your working folder.
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Go back to 3ds Max and select the first dock with the Physical Material applied.
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Select the components that make the dock, you don't need the lamppost for now.
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Using the Stingray menu, choose Send Selection.
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You are prompted to save an .fbx file in the Stingray project folder. I usually like to save 3ds Max assets in the content subfolder.
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Name the file Dock_PM and click Save.
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When prompted, choose the options you want to use. I personally like to organize materials and textures in their own folders.
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Click the Import button when done.
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Repeat the procedure for the second dock, the one with the Standard material.
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Name it Dock_SM.
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Back in Stingray, go to the content folder and drag the two docks into the scene.
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Zero out their positions so they appear in the same spot as they were in 3ds Max.
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Note that the first dock with the Physical Material applied didn't convert too well at all as none of the bitmaps are visible.
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If you select it and go to its material resource (Pier_PM), you'll notice that it was converted into a Stingray Shader.
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The conversion however, did not take into account the various bitmaps that defined the Physical material, so you would need to redefine these in Stingray.
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That's a bit of a redundancy.
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Now select the dock with the Standard material (Pier_SM) and go to its material resource.
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It too, was converted into a Stingray shader but only the base color and the normal map came through.
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Again additional work is required in Stingray to redefine this shader the way it was set in 3ds Max.
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For a one-to-one seamless interoperability, it is best to build your Stingray shaders in 3ds Max, to make sure that any conversion is totally flawless.
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This is what you learn to do next.