Applying materials to prims is not unlike your childhood experience of coloring with crayons, finger painting, or playing dress up. In this chapter, you get to relive those experiences . . . from a programmer's perspective.
Without a material, prims are lifeless and invisible. Dressing them in materials makes them both visible and interactive. Materials give your prims meaning; a thin long cylinder could be a column, a pencil, or a rope depending on its texture. In Papervision3D, shaders enable materials to interact with light, providing greater realism by determining how an object reflects or transmits light.
But in Papervision3D, it's much more than just exterior adornment. Materials actually draw your prims and objects. They lace your triangles together and then fill them with a color, material, or shade. Without them you have nothing on the screen. They're at the heart of what's happening in Papervision3D.
In this chapter, you learn about what really makes Papervision3D tick: the material classes. You investigate the basics of how materials are used to create objects. You learn about lighting and material types, and how to add brightness to a Papervision3D light source, create shades, and make bump maps. You'll also extend these concepts to CS4.
At this point in the book, you ease out of the technical aspect of 3D into application building, by constructing applications like a planet viewport viewer, video on a primitive, and bump map in a panorama.