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   Discovery Zone: Applying Textures to a Starship Page 1   

   Start with the saucer section. Select the Saucer material and change type to Blend (keep the old material as sub material, as usual). In the Material 2 slot, we'll create a blue glowing material for the lit windows. Name Material 2 'Windows', and set the diffuse color to 203, 242, 255, a very light blue/green, and set self illumination to 100. Click Go to Parent and set the mask to bitmap, selecting saucer_windows.gif as the map. This is just a black background with the windows in white. We'll use the same map as a bump map for the window material, so go back to the window material, assign saucer_windows.gif to the bump slot, and check 'invert' under Output (we want the windows recessed, not raised). You should also set this as the bump map for the aztec pattern in the Material 1 slot (with the output inverted). A quick render reveals some nice looking windows! (figure 20). Another note, the saucer window mask can look a bit blurry and strange at some angles. The best way to get around this would be to make a much larger map and decrease the blur setting under Coordinates in the Mask rollout, but those window maps can get pretty big, and I'm trying to keep this semi simple.
Figure 20
Figure 1

     Follow the same proceedure to create the windows on the dorsal section, using dorsal_windows.gif as the mask and bump map (don't forget to invert the bump map under Output!). After setting up the material, go back into the bitmap rollout for the mask and click the Show in Viewport button (switch to smooth and highlites in the side viewport if neccessary). Houston, we have a problem. You'll see that the mask is mapped incorrectly, which is caused by the UVW tiling you set when you originally applied the generic panel material, and the darn windows are all over the dorsal connector! (figure 21) That's why Max gives you UVW tiling in both the UVW modifier and the material and drag-and-drop material editing. Before we fix the windows, we need to grab that panel material and re-apply it to the dorsal connector. Drag the Material 1 slot of the Dorsal material to a blank material slot (make it a Copy) and rename the material Panels. Apply this to the dorsal connector parts and bridge sections (Box01, Box02, Elipse02, Line02, Rectangle01, Circle01, Sphere01). Whew! We dealt with the dorsal connector issue, now we can fix the windows.

     Select the dorsal section (elipse01), and set U, V, and W tiling back to 1 in the UVW modifier Next, go to the Material 1 slot of the Dorsal material. Set the tiling of the Diffuse, Shine Strength, and bump maps to the inverse of the tiling you had in the UVW modifier (because we'll be rotating the gizmo in a moment; use U: 2, V: 3.5). Click the Sub-Object button under the Modfiers panel, rotate the gizmo -90 degrees in the Z axis, and click the fit button. The windows should fit nicely now. (figure 22)

     I want to show you one more very useful type of texture, the Multi-Sub Object texture, which we'll use to get some windows around the edge of the bridge platform. Multi/Sub-Object materials allow you create a single material made up of sub-materials, and choose which faces of a mesh each sub-material is applied to, as well as assigning mapping coordinates to those faces as needed in conjunction with the Edit-mesh modifier. We'll use this on 'deck two' of the bridge section. We'll start by constructing the material. Drag the Panel material to a new slot, and change the material Type to Multi/Sub-object (keep the old material, I guess I don't need to keep telling you this), name the material Deck2. Click the Set Number button and change the number of sub-materials to 2. You'll see a slot for each sub-material, just like in the Blend materials (figure 23). Drag Panels from the first to the second slot (choose Copy), then click the number 2 slot and name the material 'side'. Set up the windows for this sub-material by changing the type to Blend, and using the same steps as the saucer and dorsal section set bridge_windows.gif as the mask and bump map. (figure 24)


   Click Go to Parent a few times so you are at the top level of the deck2 material, and type the number '1' next to the first slot, number '2' next to the second (figure 25). These are the Material ID's that will tell Max which material to apply to which faces (you'll assign Material ID's to the faces of the mesh next). Select Circle02 and apply the Deck2 material. Drop down a level to Bevel in the modifier stack and apply an Edit Mesh modifier. Change Selection Level to Face, and click Edit->Select All. Scroll way down on the edit mesh rollout to Edit Surface, and set Material ID to 1 (figure 26). This assigns all faces material ID 1, so the first submaterial is applied to these faces.

   Now that the first ID is assigned, select only the top face and go back to the top level of the modifier stack. (you MUST leave edit mesh in Sub-Object/Face mode!!!). Now apply another edit mesh, go to Sub-Object/Face and click Edit->Select invert to select the rest of the faces, and set thier ID to 2. Material ID's in the stack override ID's in previous modifiers, so doing it this way makes things easy. While still in Sub-Object/Face mode, apply another UVW modifier, and set it to cylindrical mapping. If you click the Show in Viewport button in the window mask for this material, you'll be able to see the windows mapped to the sides of the bridge, and the regular panel color on the top (figure 27). Change the check the U Mirror box in the mask slot to get some more windows (figure 28).

The completed Modifier Stack
Figure 1

     Now we need to turn the lights off in some of the windows, for which we will again use the Blend materials with an even simpler mask. Go to the Saucer texture in the Material Editor and click the Material 2 slot. Click the Type: Standard button and change the type to Blend (keep the old material). Click the Material 2 slot, change diffuse color to black, and set both Shine and Shine Strength to 55. Name this material 'dark windows'. Now click Go to Parent and set saucer_windows_lit.gif as the Mask bitmap. This is a small bitmap which masks the lit and unlit windows. It was created by loading the saucer_windows.gif into Photoshop, blacking out some of the windows, then reducing the size of the map by 33% (no need for a large map here). Now you should have a window material that looks like this (figure 29). Follow the same steps to put a few of the room in the dorsal section to sleep, this time using dorsal_windows_lit.gif as the mask. Render a perspective view to check out your progress (figure 30).

     We're just about done here, all we need is registry numbers on the saucer section. You could just incorporate these into the diffuse maps, but markings like this require pretty hi-res maps if you want to get anywhere near close, the aliasing can get WAY out of control. I'll show you a technique that lets you use relatively small maps for the hull paneling, and large maps for the registry numbers (they're large, but fairly small in file size, so they load quickly). More masks, more blends.....

     We'll need to change the Saucer material to a Top/Bottom material, which allows us to set up different textures for the top and bottom of the mesh without using mutli/sub-object materials. Go to the saucer material, and go to the Material 1 slot (the aztec pattern). Change Type to Top/Bottom. You get a window with two material slots, rename the Top material Top Saucer (figure 31). Change the Top Saucer material type to Blend, and assign topreg.gif to the diffuse material slot of the Material 2. Back up to the top of the Top Saucer material, set topreg_mask.gif as the mask. Turning on Show in Viewport reveals that the gizmo is upside down and sideways (figure 32). In the perspective viewport, rotate the gizmo 180 degrees on the Y axis and -90 degrees in the Z axis to correct this. Render a view of the top, and you've got your registry! (figure 33) Up at the Top/Bottom level of the material, drag the top saucer material to the bottom slot (choose copy), rename it Bottom Saucer, and change the bitmaps to bottomreg.gif and bottomreg_mask.gif. It's time to start playing, you're done!

     Well, I've walked you through applying textures to the entire ship (there are actually a few parts in the torpedo launchers that didn't get textured, find them and just select apply a plain dark gray texture). I admit, these are not the best looking textures, the goal here was to show you how to apply them, I didn't spend alot of time creating the maps themselves. Other things you might want to try, use a Smoke or Stratus map in the diffuse slot of the lit windows to simulate the rooms inside, create more bitmaps to add specific details to the bridge or other large flat sections, or try masking clean bitmaps with generic 'burn' textures to create battle damage. You can also assign an effects ID to the lit window materials and apply a glow to them, which looks great for nebula scenes. You can download the finished mesh here, but do it yourself instead!

If you have any questions about the tutorial, you can email me, or better yet, ask them in our forums so that everyone can input their ideas.

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