Blender 3D: Noob to Pro/Intermediate Textures and Materials

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All materials in this tutorial are just applied to a simple sphere in order to easily show the effect the textures have and don't have to worry about how the textures are applied for the most part. For a more complex object you will likely have to worry about uv mapping which is not covered in this tutorial. For more information on uv mapping look at UV Map Basics

To start select the sphere and bring up the materials panel (can be found by pressing F5 or the icon in the button bar). It should look like this

Blender3D materials and textures panel button.png Blender3D materials panel button.png Mat-screen.png

Hit Add New to add a new material that will be associated with that object. Once you are looking at the material you will notice under the Texture panel eight blank buttons. These are your texture slots. This means you can have 8 textures mapped to vary properties of your material. From Blender 2.36, you can use 10 slots. These slots are processed in sequence. Which means that if you have a texture that will be computed (for example, an environment map), and you have several texture slots used, you should put the computed slot at the end. A texture describes a design, either an image or one of blender's various different texture types.


First thing is to add a texture to the material. Do this by selecting one of the blank texture slots and hit Add New button just to the right. The material now has a texture associated with it, you now have to describe that texture. Do this by selecting the brown brick like button on the header or by pressing F6. You will see the same texture slot list with the texture you have already added. From here you can change the various texture types. Basically just play with the various options and you can see the results for something you like. I am not going to cover how each one looks, its easy to figure out via experimentation by changing texture and modifying its parameters and watching the preview. You can apply images (from files) using the images texture type. Most serious 3D modelers have a large collection of textures.

Now I will talk about what you can apply textures for. Go back to the material buttons (F5). Then bring up the Map To panel. Here is a screen shot of what you should be seeing.


The top row of buttons you see there tells how the texture will be applied to the material. Multiple texture slots can be applied to the same attribute, and the same texture can apply to multiple attributes. Any buttons that are pressed down the texture will be applied to. Some buttons have two down states. For these buttons the second down state represents the inverse (if this doesn't make much sense don't worry examples will make it more clear). Its important to understand that when you're modifying the textures themselves in the texture buttons (F6) the preview will always show color. Just because it shows that way in the preview doesn't mean it will show that way when finally applied in the material. It will depend on what you map that texture to and how it interacts with the other textures already on the material.

I am now going to describe some of the more common attributes you can map textures to as well as give some examples. To start this is the settings for the texture that I will be using if you want to follow along. To get this all I did was change Texture Type to DistortedNoise. Everything else is at defaults.

Button LabelDescriptionImages

Color, this is the color of the object. The Col slider effects how much the texture will merge into the material. Think of it as the transparency of the texture 0 is transparent (no affect for the texture), 1 is fully opaque (the texture totally overrides underlying color).


Normal Map. This can be thought of as bumpiness. The simplest way to conceptualize this is to think of white areas as dented in and black as dented out. This is a simplification of what is really happening but is usually the way you want to think of this. This differs from displacement in that the bumps are quicker but less accurate, especially when viewed at shallow angles. The Nor slider effects how much the texture makes the material bumpy. Higher values are more bumpy. If you're not seeing bumps make sure it is not set to 0.


Ray Mirror. This describes what areas are reflective and which areas are not. White for areas that are reflective, black for areas with no reflection. The Var slider will affect how much the texture affects reflections (0 for little, 1 for totally). Some important things to note for this to work. You must have Ray checked in the display buttons (F10). Also you should have Ray Mirror checked for the material. As a final note the value for the RayMirror slider should stay at 0 or it alters your results.


Displacement. This is similar to Nor but gives more accurate results at the cost of speed. The other issue with displacement is that because it modifies actual geometry when creating bumps the object must be of a suitably high mesh resolution for this to work correctly. Basically it moves the actual vertices around. So if there is not enough vertices it looks very jagged. To make it look reasonable you usually have to subdivide several times. The Disp slider affects how much displacement is applied. If you're not seeing any bumps make sure it is not set to 0.


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