Chapter 7. Materials and Mapping

Applying materials is the phrase used in 3ds Max to describe applying colors and textures to an object. A material defines an object's look—its color, tactile texture, transparency, luminescence, glow, and so on. Mapping is the term used to describe how the textures are wrapped or projected onto the geometry (for example, adding wood grain to a wooden object). After you create your objects, 3ds Max assigns a simple color to them, as you've already seen. This allows them to render and display properly in your viewports.

How you see an object in real life depends on how that object transmits and/or reflects light back to you. Materials in 3ds Max simulate the natural physics of how we see things by regulating how objects reflect and or transmit light. You define a material in 3ds Max by setting values for its parameters or by applying textures or maps. These parameters define the way an object will look when rendered. As you can imagine, much of an object's appearance when rendered also depends on the lighting. Applying materials and lighting go hand in hand. In this chapter and in Chapter 10, "3ds Max Lighting," you will discover that materials and lights work closely together.

Topics in this chapter include:

  • Materials and the Material Editor

  • Mapping a Pool Ball

  • Mapping, Just a Little Bit More

  • Using Opacity Coordinates

  • Mapping the Rocket


Materials are useful for making your objects appear more lifelike. If you model a table and want it to look like ...

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