Chapter 14. Using the Material Editor and the Material Explorer

Materials are used to dress, color, and paint objects. Just as materials in real life can be described as scaly, soft, smooth, opaque, or blue, materials applied to 3D objects can mimic properties such as color, texture, transparency, shininess, and so on. In this chapter, you learn the basics of working with materials and all the features of the Material Editor and the Material Explorer.

Understanding Material Properties

Before jumping into the Material Editor, let's take a close look at the type of material properties that you will deal with. Understanding these properties will help you as you begin to create new materials.

Up until now, the only material property that has been applied to an object has been the default object color, randomly assigned by Max. The Material Editor can add a whole new level of realism using materials that simulate many different types of physical properties.


Many of these material properties are not visible until the scene is rendered.


Color is probably the simplest material property and the easiest to identify. However, unlike the object color defined in the Create and Modify panels, there isn't a single color swatch that controls an object's color.

Consider a basket of shiny red ...

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