Designing a fast material editor with most of the functionality of nodes

Forums Wish List Designing a fast material editor with most of the functionality of nodes

  • This topic has 18 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 3 years ago by Eric.
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    I am thinking about how I build up materials and what I would like to see in the perfect material editor.

    I can see that certain variables such as filenames and coords are useful outputs, to be sampled elsewhere in the material.

    Can you suggest the other useful ouputs to consider? I am forgetting something.

    Anyhow basic idea is that as your working on a material, certain variables can be highlighted as ‘outputs’ (perhaps auto assigned a colour). At the top of the material editor there would be a list of ‘outputs’ currently set (and the chance to modify them there, rather than hunt for the original). Perhaps you could have a limit of ten filename outputs 0-9 and ten coord outputs A-J, so that’s twenty distinct colours to assign…

    And then elsewhere in the material you can select any of them to fill the approprate dialogues. With the option to bake the result in ofcourse.

    I also thing drag – drop functionality for map+coords is essential and that will be the easiest method most of the time. (if you just wanted the coords, you remove the map after drag)

    Thanks for reading, hope it makes sense. Eric.


    The way I often work around this in my current workflow is to temporarily rename an image file, then reopen the material editor, which prompts me for an alternative file. Give a new image (which populates all the slots, saving manual work).

    Then after, I must remember to restore the filename of the first image…

    Sometimes this is a useful shortcut for complex materials.

    Jeremy Hill

    Definitely, I welcome any thoughts on this topic. The current “material editor” is really just the standard node-editing GUI, with some extra code to make available all nodes connected to the current material. I frankly have not yet come up with a concrete idea I’m happy with, so input is welcome — what you’ve written already is thought provoking, so, perfect.


    I have never built a static material with nodes it’s likely, I am missing somethings.

    Other thoughts;

    I need procedural noise in 3D OBJECT SPACE (not world space, smh) I only really need it for layer weightmaps if that helps.

    I would like to see the whole material at one time, so each ‘layer’ should be a tab/panel below. This is essential for drag-dropping across layers

    I can scroll down the list if they don’t fit the vertical space… tabs would need to auto-expand for drag-drop, needs to be fluid.



    Maybe someone can recommend an image uploader that doesn’t crush images, been a while since I uploaded anywhere.

    Jeremy Hill

    We have been using imgur, but I’m not sure if they resize things.


    Edited my post, I’ll try imgur.

    Test post: It is crushing the image a bit..


    I cant find the button to link images on the forum

    Jeremy Hill

    In the editor where you write posts, you should see a button that says “img”, if you click it, a dialog should ask for the url to the image.

    (I edited your post, the problem was that you need to right-click the image at imgur, and “copy image location”)

    Jeremy Hill

    I have put together some directions on how to post image links:


    Thanks, This image is a test render (which serves as a folder thumbnail, to remind me to use these nice assets…)

    Most of these objects are 3Dscans, and generally come with one diffuse colour map (which has been downsized and graded beforehand) , and most of the materials are the same structure 1 diffuse base plus 1 spec layer, so I often just duplicate a similar material in the scene and swap in the new map.

    With an efficient material editor + C4D’s smoothness, this OCD folder management only took about 3hrs including prepping the maps. The objects have dynamic proxies so they fall under gravity onto the table, it really is the easiest way…. 🙂

    Btw. The scene is lit with a room rather than HDRI, the room has a HDR photo of an art gallery photomapped onto the walls, so the vertical walls of the room are 1 emitter.

    Also if you ever need this C4D project and folder I can upload it. They are public domain assets, but I have lost the links.

    Jeremy Hill

    Well, aside from the question of the generic material editor, capable of dealing with all the types and connections, I am also currently defining some higher-level materials, as discussed a bit in the other thread. So, there will be some interesting possibilities there, as well.

    For example, you can spend x-amount of time developing a particular type of material, which operates in terms of only a handful of important inputs, and we can then encode that in a simplified bona fide material, which exposes just those parameters, and does smart stuff with them, just prior to the start of rendering.

    Regarding your cinema project, I will surely not turn that down, as we always need good things to test with, and I know your stuff generally pushes the limits. I still remember times when it took me a good solid half-hour just to figure out how the heck some of your scenes worked. 🙂


    I put the C4D file and dependencies in one folder (pack and go from studio)

    Let me know if it doesn’t open. Its about 1 gig

    Jeremy Hill

    Seems to have worked fine, thanks!


    Before I was talking about drag and drop. When the users drags, it must carry over the maps contrast/inv settings etc. (which the user can manually discard if they wish)

    I can’t see any need to link those settings. I think dragging is the best way to populate those settings.

    I mean it will be very rare that a user would want all thier subtle map adjustments to contrast, being changed by one ‘output’.

    This is the back view of that scene (with some shading balls) The walls are emitters but the floor is a regular material. I modelled the wall slightly where the big paintings are to get some relief.


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