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Using Multi/Sub-Object Materials in 3DS Max 6
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Posted on September 27th, 2005
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3D Studio Max
Using A Multi/Sub-Object Material in 3DS Max

Multi/Sub-Object Materials are quite commonly used whilst modelling with polys, but alot of beginners to 3DS Max aren't aware of how to do this. I'm not sure about poly modelling with charachters, but whenever i model an interior in Max, i always use Multi/Sub-Object Material/s for the reason that it is quicker and more organised than having to detach every face and apply a material seperately. Just my opinion, but hey...

So for the benefit of people not yet familiar with Multi/Sub Materials, on with the tutorial!


Firstly you need a scene, unless you plan on applying it to a random box. So i have a scene prepared here that i am going to use for this tutorial. Seeing as this is not a modelling tutorial and there are plenty about for modelling an interior, i will leave the "how to" bit for another time.

Open your scene in max, and it should look like the following:

user posted image
What you need to do next, set up you Sub Material. So hit 'M' to enter the Material Editor. Once your in there, 'Get Material' (highlighted in a grey square) and the Material/Map Browser will open up. Tick 'New' on the left of it, then select Multi/Sub-Object by double clicking it.

Your Multi/Sub-Object Material Dialog will then open up in the Material Editor. You should be looking like the screen shot below:

user posted image

Now that we are this far i should really explain the concept behind this before you start setting them up. When you have an Editable Poly, and have adjusted the vertex, faces, etc. And then need to apply a material, it can get a bit tricky. Some people like to select different faces and just apply a material to it that way. But this can get a bit messy if you need to change the material on those faces for some reason, as you would have to re-select all of them again. And if your model is complex and has hard to reach faces, i'm sure this isn't something you want to do to much. So instead of re-selecting them all, you can just define a sub material to it through giving it a number in the 'Polygon Properties > Set ID' on the poly modifier panel. Then if you want to change the material you can do it by simply editing the material with the same number on it in the Multi/Sub-Object Material. Well maybe that isn't sinking in as it can be a bit complicated to explain but i'm sure if you carry on the images and hands-on bit will make it a bit clearer...

So, in your Multi/Sub-Object Material in the Material Editor (seen in the previous screen-shot), you can set up your materials. We will start with the first one with the number, you guessed it... 1!

Select the button (Material #25 in my screenshot) and rename it 'wall'. Now edit the material like it is a normal one, i just gave it a white colour in its diffuse slot.
Now you can do the same for the second sub material and the third and fourth. Renaming them 'Frames', 'Glass', 'Floor' respectively. And this is the material editing done with.

Having trouble? try follow this screenshot:

user posted image

Righty, select your poly model, and click on the faces button so we can select some of our faces!
I've started by simply doing the doors, i just selected all the faces on the model which i want to be brown to represent the door like in the screenshot below:

user posted image

Now i have to define the Multi/Sub-Object ID for the door. As seen before, the ID number in the Multi/Sub-Object Material for the door is 2, so we simply follow the above screenshot and define it as 2.

Now just follow this for all the other sections of the model and you should be done in no time.

Tip: Seeing as the majority of the model is wall, i should have started by selecting all the faces on the model and defined them as 1 : the walls material id. Simply because it could save time in selecting all the faces from the walls.

My rather unimpressive, yet functional result:

user posted image

And i think thats just about it. I may have over-explained for some people, but better to be precise than leave some people in the lurch!
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