Working with Materials

Editing Materials

To open the Material Editor right-click on a material in the Material Library and choose Edit Selected Material… The program doesn't allow editing of the standard materials. Thus, if you wish to modify it, create a copy and then customize it. To duplicate and edit a standard material, right-click on it in the Material Library, then select New From Selected… in the context menu.

The functionality described in this section is only available in the Pro edition.

Materials Editor

1 – The name of the material. You can see it in the Material Library.

2 – The material preview. The preview can show the material applied to one of three objects: sphere, cube or flat surface. To choose one, click on the corresponding icon below the preview. The preview simulates reflections from a spot and ambient light sources.

3 – Color settings. These parameters are explained in the Setting Up the Colors sub-section.

4 – The Reflection parameter makes a material more or less reflective. In order to create a mirror, set Reflection to 100%.

5 – Texture settings are discussed in the Using Textures sub-section.

6 – The list of categories of the texture library.

7 – Make the current material with or without a texture.

8 – The texture library. To add or delete a custom texture, click on a gear icon below the library. Right-clicking on a texture preview opens the same popup menu as the gear icon does.

9 – The size of the texture preview.

Setting up the Colors

The Ambient Color

The Ambient color is the object's color with dimmed lighting, for instance, in a dark shadow.

The Diffuse and Specular Colors

The Diffuse color is the object's color under diffuse light. In many cases, it coincides with the natural color of the object.

The Specular color is used to create a reflection of a direct light source. The more matt the object is, the bigger and less sharp the light spot is. To control this, use the Shininess parameter.

The way an object reflects light depends on its type of surface. Uneven or granular surfaces reflect light in a number of angles that is called diffuse reflection. Glossy surfaces reflect light in one direction. This is specular reflection. Surfaces usually produce both kinds of reflection, but in different proportions.

The Shininess control lets you adjust the size of the specular reflection spot. As you increase the value, the spot becomes smaller, and consequently, the object looks glossier.

No specular reflection (the Specular Color is black)
No specular
Specular reflection with Shininess = 3
Specular
Specular reflection with Shininess = 25
Specular

The Self-Illumination Color

A self-illuminating surface can look like it is under the ambient light even in the darkness. This feature can be used for elements of light sources (glass-shade, for instance).

Using Textures

To create a material with a texture, activate the Has Texture option. Textures can be taken from the built-in library or imported from graphic files.

To import a custom texture, click on a gear button in the bottom left corner of the Material Editor and choose the Import Custom Texture item from the popup menu. The maximum allowed texture size is 512 by 512 pixels. When you import an image of a greater size, it will be scaled down preserving the original aspect ratio.

To remove a custom texture, right-click on it and choose Delete Current Texture…

The Rotate parameter changes the angle of a texture.

The Tile Size parameter lets you adjust the size of the texture pattern. The program will multiply the Tile Size by the Scale to define the size of the texture when you apply it to an object. The default value of the texture size in the Tile Transform set of tools in the Inspector will be equal to the Tile Size.

As the program renders the 3D scene, it mixes the colors of the texture with the Ambient, Diffuse and Specular colors. To avoid tinting the texture, choose the Ambient, Diffuse and Specular colors from the gray scale palette.

The Blending Method options let you also control the resulting brightness and transparency of a material.

With the Modulate method, the brightness of a material is defined by the combined brightness of the Ambient, Diffuse and Specular colors. In order to make a texture look similar to the original image, you should make the Ambient or Diffuse color white. Otherwise, the material will look darker.

The Modulate and Lighten method increases the brightness of the texture compared with the Modulate method.

The Alpha Blend method is used to create transparent materials such as glass. This option is available if at least one of the Ambient, Diffuse and Specular colors is transparent.

Fully transparent parts of a texture will become black when the Modulate or Modulate and Lighten method is selected. Semitransparent parts will be opaque. Use the Alpha Blend method to preserve the opacity of the texture.

The Actual Texture Size

A texture applied to a wall or floor should match the actual wallpaper or tile size. To achieve this, you should set the Scale parameter in the Material Editor to 1, and set the Tile Size to the actual tile size. Don't forget that there can be small gaps between tiles that you should take into account when define the Tile Size. If a texture pattern shows several identical tiles, then you should increase the Scale. For example, a physical tile is 18x18 in. The texture displays four tiles (two by two). In this case, set the Tile Size to 18 in and the Scale to 2.