Switchers For Randomizing Patterns
By Neil Blevins
Created On: Dec 10th 2013
Updated On: Feb 17th 2014
Lets say you have a bunch of rocks in a scene, and you want
to give each rock a slightly different color to add variety. What you
need is a switcher. What is a switcher? Basically, you define
a set of patterns, and they get assigned to specific groups of objects,
faces, etc, usually using some sort of ID value that connects the
pattern to the thing its being applied to. So for example, you create a
rock material that has 5 different rock colors, and then spread
randomly the ID 1 to 5 on a bunch of rocks, and each rock receives one
of the 5 rock colors.
Lets use 3dsmax as an example.
Using Multi-Map / MultiIDMap /
If you want to apply completely
different materials to these objects, you'd use a material switcher
like the sub-object Material. But since we only want to vary the color,
and leave the rest of the material alone, what we need is a map
switcher. Sadly, there's no one map switcher that works in all
renderers. Here's the available map switchers...
For this tutorial, I'll use the VrayMultiSubTex, but the same basic
technique works in all of the switchers, use whichever one works with
your renderer of choice. For more information on which Switcher map to
use and which ID type to choose, read my lesson on Switchers And IDs,
Which To Use When. You also should download my Soulburn
Script pack, as I'll be using the iDSetter Script.
- 3dsMax mentalray: Multi-map in 3dsMax
- 3dsMax Scanline, brazil and vray: MultiIDMap by Grant Adam which
is a free plugin that can be found at http://maxplugins.de/
- 3dsMax Vray: VrayMultiSubTex
- 3dsMax Vray: VrayHDRI
So here's the basic process...
Lets say you have a bunch of seperate rock objects. First, select your
Run my iDSetter Script.
Set Low to 1 and High to 5. Hit Apply. Now inspect the rocks. Each rock
has a Material modifier on it with a random Material ID from 1 to 5.
If you have instead of seperate objects a single object that contains
multiple rock elements, then here's the trick for giving this object
the appropriate Material IDs. Select your object, and assign a
MaterialByElement modifier.This will assign a random Material
ID per element (each rock).
Now that we've got the Material IDs assigned, lets assign a single rock
map to the diffuse of the rock material...
Now put that rock bitmap map as a submap of VrayMultiSubTex. Set Num
IDs to 5.
Now you can fill in the 5 slots with 5 completely different rock
textures, or if you just want some color variation, put 5
ColorCorrection maps in the 5 slots, hook all 5 ColorCorrection maps to
your original bitmap, and then tweak the color on each map slightly,
making some darker, some lighter, some browner, etc.
And here's the result...
Now remember, since the rocks are all keyed off the Material IDs, if
the directors says "I love it, but can you make that rock closest to
camera one of the browner ones?" You can, just select that rock, and
change the Material ID in the Material modifier to be one of the
Amir Naziri reminded me about CG Source's MultiTextureMap. This is
another type of switcher that's available here: http://www.cg-source.com/multitexture.php
It lets you take a bunch of maps, and randomly assign them to a set of
objects using Material or Object ID. Or, you can load a single map, and
play with the Random Color Adjustment to have each be a slightly
different color / brightness / saturation. This plugin does have a few
But it's certainly a useful plugin that may do exactly what you need in
some instances, and is worth checking out.
- No Mentalray support
- Only works with textures, not procedurals, and no map chains
- Limited number of bitmap options, so no stuff like cropping or
Rotation built into the map.
pointed out a few other scripts and plugins that can help with creating
Check em out if you want even more ways of achieving variation.
Remember, when you have a bunch of similar things, they're never all
exactly the same, there's always subtle color variation and texture
variation, even if they're all the same sort of rock, grass, wood
planks on the kitchen floor, etc. The colors in the example above may
be a little exaggerated to show the point, but even subtler variation
can give a lot of life to your scene. So always use a switcher to give
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