Press ‘m’ to open the Materials editor. The spheres you see in this window are ‘Shaders’ ie the materials you will edit and apply to your model.
Make a new box. Drag any of the shader spheres onto the box to apply that material to the box.
Below the list of shader spheres are a row of icons- the first of which is ‘Get materials’ This is used to open a material file saved on your computer. The third icon is ‘Apply material to selection’ . This is basically the same as dragging the spere onto the box, but can be used to apply a material to numerous objects at once.
Tooltip: Press ‘h’ to bring up a selection window, where you can choose objects from a list rather than picking them by eye.
Icon 7 is ‘Put to Library’, where you can save any custom materials you have made to your computer.
Icon 9 is ‘View material in viewport, which will allow you to see textures on your model without having to render it.
To the right of the shader spheres is another column of icons:
Icon 1 is ‘Sample type’ which allows you to change the sphere into other shapes to see how the material looks on other geometry.
Icon 3 is ‘Background– which will add a checkered grid behind the preview image- allowing you to see opacity, refraction of the material etc.
Icon 4 is ‘Sample UV Tiling’ Where you can preview how your texture tiles around your objects.
The rest of the icons are less important for now.
Beneath the icons is a text box where you can name your material. Besides this is a grey box which defaults to the word ‘standard’. Clicking on this will allow you to see a large number of premade materials- architectural are more muted, ink and paint are fairly cartoony, and raytrace are good for glass and shiny materials.
Shader Basic Parameters
In the drop down list box on the left you can choosefrom different shader types- mostly similar they have slightly didfferent highlights etc.
The Wireframe check box allows you to turn your 3d object into a wireframe model when rendered, when the material is applied. Useful for modelling fottball nets etc,
2 Sided Check Box: Apply a material to a plane or model it will only be revealed from the outside. Clcking on the 2 sided check box will allow the material to appear on both inside and outside.
Blinn Basic Parameters:
The default shader type is Blinn, Ambient is the default colour of the light hitting the object diffuse is the colour of the surface of the object (the two tend to be the same) and Specular is the colour of the reflections.
These 3 scroll bars affect how bright, sharp or intense the highlights are on an object- and adjusting them will affect material quality to resemble anything from glass (reflective) to human skin (dull)
Opacity can be slid up and down to make the material more or less transparent.
Advanced Transparency: Index of refraction- adjust this to make the light bend more through translucent objects
Wire size: affects the size of the wire mesh left behind when basic setting are set to wire.
Maps are used to mask off parts of a texture or colour applied to your model.
Diffuse Colour affects the base colour or texture of your material. Clicking on the ‘none’ button will allow you to change it to a wide variety of textures. most useful is the ‘bitmap’ option where you can apply a photograph to be the texture.
Bump maps give a 3 dimensional quality to the texture by adding shadows, by applying a black and white bitmap image to the object. In the bitmap, white areas will appear raised and black areas will appear lowered. This doesnt actually affect the geometry of the model, but instead creates artificial shadows to fool the eye.
Specular Colour: This map will adjust where specular highlights appear on the model- ie making the lips look moist on a human face. This doesnt need to be black and white- a gradient can be applied.
Glossiness: Same as above, for glossy highlights.
Self Illumination: Maps where the self illumination factor can be seen on the model. Eg having glowing lines on a machine or reddening cheeks on a face.
Anisotrophy: Is where the highlights on an object are stretched- for example, where the highlight on a sphere is long and thin, as opposed to circular.
Reflection: With this map you can add a photographic reflection onto a shiny object. This is a bit of a cheat- rather than raytracing and reflecting the actual environment in max, you are showing a reflection of an environment not actually modelled.