3ds Max & AutoCAD Interoperability- Part 3 - Creating Materials

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Last modification: 26 Feb, 2018
  • Design Visualization
  • 2012
  • Media Management
  • Building Levels
  • Environment
  • Workflow
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
10 min

3ds Max & AutoCAD Interoperability- Part 3 - Creating Materials

In this Part 3 tutorial, learn the basic principles on creating materials befitting your scene elements. Mostly, you will explore the Multi/Sub-Object material as this is very important in architectural environments, where you need to apply different materials to the same object.





  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2012, AutoCad 2012
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2012 or higher.


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With the walls and floors in place, let's take a look at how you can improve the scene by applying simple materials to objects.

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You'll come back later to more modeling to create doors, windows and curtain walls.

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Commonly, you use the Standard material for the Scanline renderer and the Arch & Design material for the mental ray renderer.

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In this movie however, you'll be focusing on the Multi/Sub-Object material, which is crucial in architectural rendering.

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As its name implies, the Multi/Sub material enables you to apply multiple materials, Standard, Arch & Design or otherwise, to a single object in the scene.

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This is done by manipulating the face IDs on objects.

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Currently, this scene is set to use the Scanline renderer, that's fine for now.

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Imagine you want to apply an off-white color to the interior walls.

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This can easily be done by creating a Standard material,

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specifying an off-white color to the diffuse channel,

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and then applying the material to the interior walls in the scene.

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But then your kid comes along and says: No, no, I want my room to be yellow…

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You could potentially select and detach the faces that make that room into a separate object, but there's a better way.

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In the Material Editor, drag a Multi/Sub-Object material into the viewer.

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Double-click the node to see the material's properties.

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The Multi/Sub-Object material is really a container for other materials.

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You can link materials to each individual channel, in this case the off-white material to channel or ID #1.

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Create another Standard material based on a yellow Diffuse color.

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Link it to the second channel, ID #2

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This is basically saying that when you apply the Multi/Sub-object material to an object,

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Any faces identified as ID #1 will be off-white, and any faces identified with ID #2 will be yellow.

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You can have up to a 1000 IDs or sub-materials although it's doubtful you will need that many.

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Set them to 2 for now.

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Apply the Multi/Sub-Object to the interior walls.

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The walls are mostly white but the gaps you bridged earlier are yellow.

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You need to adjust the face IDs to get things to look right.

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Select the walls and in the modify panel, go to Polygon mode.

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Press Ctrl+A to select all faces and then set their ID to 1.

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All walls are now white.

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Select the faces that make the inside of the smaller room,

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and set the ID to 2.

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The inside walls of that room are now yellow.

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If you want additional colors (for other rooms), then you can expand the Multi/Sub-Object material to more channel IDs.

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You can then assign the object's face IDs accordingly.

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Try this little exercise by making the kitchen partition blue.

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Next you'll take a look at the outer wall. Let's say you're looking for a brick exterior and a paint interior.

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Create a new Multi/Sub-Object material.

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Set its first channel ID to be an instance of the off-white color material you created earlier.

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Apply the newly created Multi/Sub-Object material to the exterior walls.

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The effect is far from perfect but you still need to adjust the face IDs.

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Make sure the exterior wall object is selected, go to the Modify panel and access Poly sub-object mode.

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Select all the faces (Ctrl+A) and set them to ID #1. Now the exterior walls are all white.

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Select the Outer faces,

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and set them to ID #2. At this time, they turn black.

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Drag in a new Standard material into the viewer.

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Set that Standard material to be based on a brick Diffuse bitmap. You will find one in the zip file you downloaded for this tutorial.

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Make sure the new standard material is set to display its maps in the viewport,

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and link it to channel ID #2.

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The wall sections are still black in the viewport but that's only because you need to define mapping coordinates.

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Exit Polygon mode and apply a UVW Map modifier to the exterior walls.

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Set it to Box mode and set the Length/Width/Height values to 4'

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Now the outer walls are accurately mapped with bricks.

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You typically would want to enhance the bricks material with bump and specular maps but that's not the focus of this tutorial.

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On the other hand, let's revisit the yellow room and see how you can paint the outer wall yellow.

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Go down the stack to Editable Poly > Polygon mode,

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and notice that there's a stretch of wall that extends from the smaller room to the master bedroom.

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You need to separate the two sections before you can change the face IDs.

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Press F3 on the keyboard, it's easier to do this in wireframe mode.

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Switch to Edge mode. Select all the horizontal edges that make that strip of wall.

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Use the Connect Setting box.

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Use one segment only and adjust the Slide value to make sure the division happens where the interior wall is.

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Go back to Polygon mode and select the walls that are meant to be yellow.

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Set them to ID #3.

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Again they turn black but that's because you haven't yet defined the material's third channel.

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In the Slate Material Editor, instance the yellow material you created earlier into the third channel ID of the new Multi/Sub-Object material.

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You may need a quick refresh, just pan the view a bit until the outer wall turns yellow.

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For good measure, set that new material to be based on three sub-materials only.

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You can always add more later, as you need them.

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Also, it's a good idea to rename the Multi/Sub-Object materials.

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For the floor, you first need to convert it into an Editable Poly.

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You can then use the same technique to separate the floor surface ID from the rest of the slab.

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This way, you can create and apply a Multi/Sub-Object material based on two ID channels.

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One where you can instance the off-white color which works well for the ceilings,

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and another that you can define as floor surfacing with a tiling bitmap like the one you downloaded for this tutorial.

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Again you will need to adjust your mapping coordinates for this to work well.

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If you want to have different floor surfacings, then you'd need to subdivide the surface like you did with the exterior walls earlier.

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This way you can define more face IDs and more sub-materials.

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If you have time, add and apply a Standard material based on a cement bitmap for the balcony slab.

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You will also need to apply mapping coordinates for that to work well.

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In the next movie, you'll create pivot and sliding doors.

Posted By
  • 3ds Max
  • 2012
  • Media Management
  • Building Levels
  • Environment
  • Workflow
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