March 2010

So probably as so many of as I am using noise and smoke procedural maps quite a lot. And they are kind of basic building blocks for many organic shaders. So Normally when we model anything.. don’t know say a wall… there are areas where we would like to use different textures for different parts of simple, flat wall. The wall beneath a window can have very different colors and bumps, and stuff. There is more dirt gathering there, the patterns of rain and wind affect it differently… also we spit through a window, throw stuff… it all leaves marks on a wall. Normally artist would have to create different materials for all these things, and then draw a mask, where to use one material and where second one should go. Why not to help artist a bit and make some of masks automatically?

And how do we do that? Lets see an image here:

procedural angular mask

procedural angular mask

So lets say we apply our new material, or map to a geometry. Now what it does is, it builds a a list of angular values of vertexies, or rather edges. And then according to values, we generate gradients. Which are our masks. And of course just to use angular values would be not enough, we would what to have ability to change contours from linear to add noise smoke and so on ….. its something like fallof map in max… would it work???

ps. also some easy ready made function shuld be added for horisontal stripes, something like what u have due to running whater. aka rain. could be simple streched noise. or something…

Ok, this line was just for fun, but.. There used to be such cool procedural map called planet. Ok it had its limitations. I would have liked to be able to add complicated maps inside each color slot of planet procedural map. But still, it was very good map. To me it was as important as noise and smoke.

noise & smoke procedurals

noise & smoke procedurals

I used to use three of them to achieve very nice random organic shaders. Ofcourse it was written to simulate planet surface, but that’s, to me at least, is only one way to use it. I used it in any situation..  But now I have 3D max 2010 and I see no Planet!!??

max 2010 vs max 9, where is planet procedural map?

max 2010 vs max 9, where is planet procedural map?

What happened, am I blind? Whats so good about it? I will add some pictures here:

planet functions

planet functions

Ok. there must be a reason why its gone. Might be its old code, somehow not compatible with some other newer elements.. So why not to rewrite it?

But if someone decides to do so, lets add some more functions to it.

In original Planet we have function called Iceland factor. It was probably the reason I used planet.

But one can increase or decrease island factor to whole generated procedural . To all its elements.

Why not to separate this effect, so we could apply it to separate elements of planet map, called colors. Now here its a bit hard to explain. Pls look at previous image and next ones.

island factor

island factor

Or, even cooler, might be we could add a map for each color slot, as how and where island factor should be high or low. What I mean is, if we change value per color slot, it would affect whole contour of that color slot, what if we could add noise or smoke material there… (i should update last pictures adding map selection button to each noise factor, i guess…  it simply would work as either value (0-1) or as a map.)

We also have blend water and land switcher. As far as I understand if it’s on, max generates gradient transitions between colors. Again, why not to have this option separately for each element, or color. And here is my proposal for Planet Pro :)

planet pro

planet pro

Ok, continent size and water size hardly make sense, but, common, that’s just an idea, not a finished procedural.  What you think of it? Could we have water regions and land regions like well… like a groups of colors? so we could apply some stuff to a bigger regions compared to one color?

like this might be:

planet procedural map pro 2

planet procedural map pro 2

Here is a text from 3d max 9 help file, describing planet material.

Here they say it’s not good for bump maps, but actually I loved it for rusty, heavily corroded surfaces.

Planet Map

Planet map used to create another world
Planet is a 3D map that uses fractal math to simulate the colors on the surfaces of a planet. You can control the size of continents, percent of ocean coverage, and so on. This map is meant to be used as a diffuse map. It does not work well as a bump map. 
Tip: The Material Editor's sample slot doesn't show the planet effect very clearly. To help get the effect you want, double-click the sample slot to get a larger sample slot, or assign the map to geometry and render the scene. Another way to preview the planet map is to use the Material Editor Options dialog to set the 3D Map Sample Scale to equal a main dimension of the object you are applying the map to. For example, if you want to use the planet map on a sphere with a radius of 20, change the map scale from 100 (the default) to 20. 


Continent Size—Sets the size of the fractal noise pattern used to generate the continents. Can range from 0 to 100. The higher the value, the larger the continents. Default=40. 
Island Factor—Sets the size of the fractal noise pattern used to generate islands and mountains. Can range from 0 to 100. At 0, the geography is very low. Higher settings create a more rugged landscape. Default=0.5. 
Ocean %—Sets the percentage of the planet's surface that is covered by water. Default=60.0. 
Random Seed—Sets the seed for pseudo-random generation of the pattern. Changing this number can completely change the pattern, even if other settings remain the same. On the other hand, a different Planet map with the same settings including the same Random Seed will appear the same. 
Water Colors group 
The colors in these three swatches are applied to the water areas of the planet surface. 
Water colors—Click a swatch to display the Color Selector and change the color. Color #1 is the "center" area of the water mass, Color #2 surrounds Color #1, and Color #3 surrounds Color #2, meeting the land. 
Land Colors group 
The colors in these five swatches are applied to the land areas of the planet surface. Their arrangement continues that of the water colors. 
Land colors—Click a swatch to display the Color Selector and change the color. Color #4 is the shoreline of the land, meeting the water; Color #5 comes next, working toward the center of the land mass. Color # 8 is at the center of the land mass. 
Blend Water/Land—When on, the boundary between water and land is blended, giving a hazy appearance. When off, the boundary between water and land is sharp. 

One thing that takes long time while working is related to procedural maps and viewports.

If you have an empty scene, and one object, its not so hard to create a shader using procedural maps for it. Well it could still take time, What I what to say here is, It doesn’t take time or effort to apply a noise map in diffuse Chanel, render it all, look and continue adjusting noise size and other parameters. Each time rendering result to see the effect of your adjustments.

Now its a very different story when, A. you have very complicated map. Noise, or other procedural map represent only some very small and hardly noticeable part of general diffuse map.

Or B. your scene is full of objects, it has caustics and indirect illumination on, some volume fog and whatever else. In both cases it becomes very time consuming to isolate your procedural map to generate test render. That’s why one would click ”show standard map in viewport”

show standard map in viewport button

in material editor. And it works ! :) Quide good for texture maps (bitmaps). And we do not need perfect quality here, its just a viewport, just a guideline. But look what happens with procedural maps:


Well, it shows idea of noise. But size is all wrong. Which is the worst, I think. It has other problems, some cutting lines are visible.. but noise is noise, not such a big deal…  but if we are using planet (which no longer exist in max 2010) or say Perlin Marble…  -

Here is one example, say I have Utah teapot. And I what to add marble pastern, so its veins would go horizontally.. or, even more complicated, one vein should go around the opening of pot, where one adds lid..

perlin procedural maps in viewports

perlin procedural maps in viewports

here, u see picture (1) from viewport followed by rendered final.

And 2, what I had to change to have correct alignment of marble veins.. how could I do that without rendering? Here its simple, one object, only one texture… but.. If I have a situation described in the beginning of post?

Descriptions from max help file:

3D Maps

    3D maps are patterns generated procedurally in three dimensions. For example, Marble has a grain that goes through the assigned geometry. If you cut away part of an object with marble assigned as its texture, the grain in the cutaway portion matches the grain on the object’s exterior.

Turn on Show Map In Viewport.

    The map appears on objects assigned the material in all shaded viewports. Now when you adjust the map, the viewports update to display the adjustments.

    Turning on Show Map In Viewport for one map automatically turns this button off for all other maps the material has.

    Viewports can display 2D maps such as Checker and Bitmap.

    Viewports can also display most kinds of 3D maps. The exceptions are Particle Age and Particle MBlur. Also, the appearance of the Falloff map in viewports give only a vague indication of how it will appear when rendered.

    Show Map In Viewport is unavailable if the active map type cannot display in viewports.

    Displaying mapped materials in a viewport can slow performance. If you don’t need to view the texture, turn off its viewport display.

So lets imagine we want to create a new material. We go to material editor, we select a type of material, and hurray, we have it. No we want to add noise, or non existing planet :) map to our diffuse canal. And we click button “none”. Nice we are in material/map browser.

material Browser

material Browser

So far so good. Now lets count how many clicks we need to apply say, speckle map. And here we go, its not in browser, or, unless your screen size is extremely huge, you need to scroll down. That’s normal. But faster you scroll, harder to see if you reached wanted map. (some people have no problem with this) Slower you scroll, well it takes more time. (some other get annoyed). So what do we do? Simple. Same as we do in modifier selection list.

modifier List

modifier List

So we go over menu with mouse pointer, we don’t even click as in many other programs (winch is cool innovation by max) And we hit a letter on a keyboard, and here you go, no more scrolling, you are almost at speckle map. (providing there are no other maps starting S) and there are, but still, it takes fraction of second to spot required map. Why cant we have this functionality in material/map browser?


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