Types of Materials
Command entry: Material/Map Browser Materials group; also the Scene Materials group, library groups, and custom groups

Materials create greater realism in a scene. A material describes how an object reflects or transmits light. You assign materials to individual objects or selection sets; a single scene can contain many different materials. Different materials have different uses.


To get a material, do one of the following:

To change a material type in the Compact Material Editor:

  1. At the level of a material, click the Type button below the Material Editor toolbar.

    3ds Max opens a modal Material/Map Browser. If you were at a material when you clicked Type, the Browser lists only materials (if you were at a map, it lists only maps).

  2. Choose a material from the list, and then click OK.

    If you choose a compound material, 3ds Max opens a Replace Material dialog. This dialog lets you choose whether to keep or discard the original material.

    The Material Editor now displays controls for the new material.

  • SuperSampling Rollout

    The SuperSampling rollout is used by the Architectural, Raytrace, Standard, and Ink ‘n Paint materials. It lets you choose a supersampling method. Supersampling performs an additional antialiasing pass on the material. This requires more time but can improve image quality. Supersampling is especially helpful when you need to render very smooth specular highlights, subtle bump maps, or high resolutions.

  • mental ray Connection Rollout

    The mental ray Connection rollout is available for all types of materials except the Multi/Sub-Object material and most of the mental ray materials themselves (for which it would be redundant). With this rollout you can add mental ray shading to conventional 3ds Max materials. These effects are visible only when you use the mental ray renderer.

  • DirectX Manager Rollout

    Lets you select a DirectX viewport shader for viewing Direct3D hardware shaders. DirectX shaders require the Direct3D graphics driver, which uses DirectX. With DirectX shading, materials in a viewport more accurately represent how the material will appear in another application, or on other hardware such as a game engine.

  • mental ray Materials

    3ds Max comes with several materials created specifically for use with the mental ray renderer. These materials are visible in the Material/Map Browser when mental ray or the Quicksilver hardware renderer is the active renderer.

  • MetaSL Material

    The Map To Material Conversion material converts a MetaSL shader tree into a material you can use in 3ds Max scenes.

  • Standard Material and Related Materials (Non-Photometric)

    This section describes the Standard material and other materials that are not photometric. These materials can be suitable for games and animation, but not for physically accurate lighting models.

  • Photometric Materials (Non-mental ray)

    This section describes photometric materials that do not use mental ray or the mental ray renderer. These materials interact with light in technically accurate ways.

  • Materials to Support Hardware Shading and Rendering to Texture

    The materials described in this section specifically support hardware shading (as in hardware-driven viewports or a game engine), and the Render to Texture feature.

  • XRef Material

    The XRef material lets you use in your scene a material applied to an object in another scene file. As with XRef objects, the material resides in a separate source file. You can set the material properties only in the source file. When you change them in the source file and then save it, the material's appearance can change in the master file that contains the XRef.