In the native Rhino Material editor Enscape only supports the basic materials in Rhino 5 and the custom materials in Rhino 6 and 7, with no blend or composite materials being supported there. Due to the limited scope of this article, information regarding Rhino’s Material Editor in full can be found in the Rhino Knowledgebase.
However, Enscape also comes with its own Material Editor that, in addition to the native Rhino Material Editor, extends the range of what is possible in terms of materials and textures.
We will cover the Enscape Material Editor first, and then how Enscape also works with the native Rhino Material Editor for those users who run Rhino 5, as the Enscape Material Editor is not available for Rhino 5 users.
If you open the Material Editor with an empty project file, the Enscape Material Editor will look like this:
Empty Material Editor
Open the Enscape Material Editor by pressing its button in the Enscape ribbon.
The Material Editor window will always stay on top, meaning all functions in the Rhino User Interface (UI) will temporarily become inaccessible, although you will still be able to work in the Enscape window.
Rhino becomes enabled again once the Material Editor window has been closed.
Location of the Enscape Materials button in the Enscape toolbar
To create a material, simply open the open the Materials tab in Rhino, or type ‘Materials’ into the Rhino command line.
Rhinos Material Editor, when no materials exist in a project
Click on the large + symbol and then choose ‘Enscape’ as the material Type.
Set Type to ‘Enscape’
The Rhino native Material Editor will now look like in the screenshot here to the right, which shows ‘Enscape’ as the material Type.
Material Type is now set to 'Enscape' in the native Rhino Material Editor
You can then name your material.
Name the new material
You will now see the new material appear in the Enscape native Material Editor, where you can start to edit the material how you would like.
New material listed in Enscape.
For materials from older projects where materials have already been created and assigned, you can also assign these materials to be of Type ‘Enscape’, after which they will become available in the Enscape native Material Editor for further editing.
Materials from an old project, yet to be converted to Type ‘Enscape’
Simply set the Type to ‘Enscape’ and the texture, with all its attributes, will now be available in the Enscape native Material Editor.
Old material, set to Type ‘Enscape’ now editable in the Enscape native Material Editor.
If we now open the Enscape Material Editor, we will see our ‘Enscape’ Type material has become available in the Enscape Material Editor.
Whenever you set the material to something other than ‘Enscape,’ that material is removed from the listing in the Enscape Material Editor.
Your first material in the Enscape Material Editor
If you want to rename the material, then you have to go back to the material editor in Rhino and rename it there, which will update the material in the Enscape Material Editor.
Here, we have named our material that was called ‘Enscape’, to ‘Cube Material’.
Now we have created our first material which is now ready for editing in the Enscape Material Editor.
When assigning a material directly to a surface, or object, because of how the Enscape Material Editor is integrated into Rhino, we have to select the object first and then, in Rhino’s Native Material Editor, we need to define the surface of the object as being of Type ‘Enscape’.
So, start with a blank empty scene in Rhino, place a cube (or any other object) into your scene and then make sure it is selected. Open the Rhino Properties panel and then select the Material option.
You can have the material set to ‘Use Layer Material’, ‘Use Object Parent’, or ‘Default material’. In this scenario, we will choose ‘Default material’, which will set the Type to Plaster as default.
You then need to switch that Type to be set to ‘Enscape’.
Because of how the Enscape Material Editor is integrated into Rhino, before opening the Enscape Material Editor, we have to first create or select a Rhino material, and define it as being of Type ‘Enscape’.
Set the Material Type to 'Enscape' in the native Rhino Material Editor
The Enscape Material Editor also has a search facility to help find materials in projects that have many materials.
Simply enter the search term in the search box located top left of the Material Editor window.
The “Default” material type is suited for any materials that aren’t supposed to be rendered as grass blades, as a water surface, or have translucency applied.
This is the default material type and can be used for the majority of all possible materials.
The Albedo area controls the basic color of the surface you’re designing. You can either select a color, or choose a texture by clicking the [+] symbol. When choosing a texture, you’ll also have the option to apply a “Tint Color”, allowing you to easily change the color of the texture used. Control the amount of influence on your texture using the “Image Fade” slider. Enscape will use the default UV mapping information Rhino provides.
Albedo with no texture applied
Albedo with texture applied
Albedo Texture on cube
It is also possible to add a video texture to the Albedo texture slot. The following formats are currently supported: .mp4, .mpg, .m2v, .3gp, .avi, .mov, and .mk,
When selecting a video file as the Albedo texture, transparency-related material settings become unavailable, although applying a mask texture still remains possible. The adjustment or inversion of the brightness of the video texture is also unavailable, but Self-Illumination remains an option.
Video textures applied to the Albedo texture slot
The Self-illumination setting, when enabled, tells Enscape to literally handle your material as if it’s glowing, and emitting actual light. You can choose a brightness between 1 and 100000 candela per square meter (cd/m²), as well as the color the light should be.
Self-illumination settings area
Self-illumination set to texture on a cube
The Transparency area lets you control the opacity of your model or, in other words, the amount of light that can travel through the surface, allowing you to see what’s behind it.
Transparency settings area
The Height option in the Enscape Material Editor allows you to utilize so called Bump, Normal, or Displacement maps in order to simulate bumps, wrinkles and dents and the lighting of these.
Bump maps can be any black and white 2D images. They tell Enscape to interpret a surface as protruding (bright parts of the texture) or recessed (dark parts of the texture).
Normal map are a type of Bump map that require an image with RGB values. These RGB components correspond to the X, Y, and Z coordinates, respectively.
Displacement maps are an enhancement of the bump mapping or normal mapping techniques applied to textures. Normally an Occlusion Map is the type of image you will use for Displacement maps. The actual technique employed in Enscape is called quadtree parallax displacement mapping for optimum performance. It’s worth noting that Displacement maps are incompatible with transparent materials so the entire “Transparency” section becomes unavailable where a displacement map has been applied (including mask textures). Furthermore, the brightness of Displacement maps cannot be further adjusted or inverted when editing the texture inside the Enscape Material Editor itself.
Height maps are incredibly valuable for realism in your images and this can not be overstated enough!
Height maps can make for incredible surface detail and noise, without actually affecting or adding more geometry. You can use this feature for noise on concrete surfaces, wood, tiling, or even full reliefs! This can go a long way in convincing the viewer that they are looking at a realistic picture.
Textures that are available online, either paid for or free, will generally have a Normal, Bump / Height, Occlusion map included or available additionally to the basic Color texture.
It is also worth noting that normal based self-shadowing of material surfaces implemented. This feature further improves the depth perception of materials, especially with displacement maps. It’s active for sun light only when the Rendering Quality level is set to “High”. On Rendering Quality level “Ultra” artificial lights will also cast normal based shadows.
Applying a Bump map
Applying a Normal map
Applying a Displacement map
As powerful as this feature is, it’s very easy to setup. Just select an image file using the – button. A Bump map doesn’t even have to be black & white, as Enscape will take care of that for you.
Normal Maps must have an RGB value in them.
As already mentioned, Displacement maps would be best served with an occlusion map if available.
You can switch between using a Bump, Normal, and Displacement map via the Type drop down option.
Select the Intensity (Bump and Displacement) or Amount (Normal) of the effect, using the respectively named slider. Negative values for bump maps. will invert the effect, causing dark areas to stick out and bright areas to be pushed in.
Displacement Maps will only adjust the amount, whether negative or positive values, in the same single direction from the minimum height value.
The Bump Map settings options
This area is all about the microscopic roughness of your material, determining how much of the environment you’ll see reflected in its surface.
The Reflection settings area
Cube with checker texture applied as a Roughness Map
The Grass type material, as seen in the Enscape Material Editor, looks almost the same as the Default type. While it’s lacking the Transparency part, it instead features a Grass Settings area. Apart from the Albedo area, which you can use to color your grass (also using a texture), the Bump– and Reflections options are only useful if you plan to toggle the Grass Rendering setting on and off (this can be found in the Enscape General Settings -> “Performance” tab under Grass/Carpet Rendering).
Alternatively, you can also use the various keywords available for the different kinds of grass in the Rhino native Material Editor when the material is set to Type ‘Custom’. You can find these keywords covered here.
Material set to Grass
Changing the height of the grass
Changing the variation of the grass
The Carpet material acts in the same way as the Grass Material, in that it can be applied to a horizontal surface only, and the Height and Height Variation are controlled in the Enscape Material Editor.
Carpet Material in Rhino
Material set to Carpet in the Material Editor
The Height and Height Variation Settings title is amended with Carpet when Carpet is selected as the Type in the Material Editor.
Carpet selected as Material Type and texture assigned
Carpet Material Settings in the Material Editor
Composite image illustrating water color
Control the water movement. Change the speed and the direction your water is flowing to simulate e.g. a river.
Wind settings that will affect how water behaves
Fine tune the look of your waves, whether it’s the overall scale to match the proportions of your model, or just the height to control whether your water looks wild or calm.
Wave settings sliders
Height: The Height slider controls the height – or intensity – of waves in water materials.
Size: The Size slider controls the overall scale of your water. This way you can adjust the water behavior for various project sizes, close ups etc.
Caustics occur when light is being refracted through waves in water. Control this beautiful effect using this slider. Keep in mind you will only see this effect as long as there’s a surface beneath the water to reflect the light.
No caustics to 100% caustics visibility
When selecting “Foliage” as the material Type, the Enscape Material Editor interface will look almost identical to when selecting “Default” as the material Type, the only difference being that the transparency option becomes disabled.
The difference this material type will cause is only visible on single-face objects. Please make sure the object you apply this material to doesn’t have any depth, and also that the material is applied to both sides of the face.
If these conditions are met, Enscape will apply Translucency to objects this material Type is applied to. This means that, if the Sun (this doesn’t work when combined with artificial lighting) is located behind said surface, it will be illuminated on both sides. This is common in nature for example with leaves, which is why this is the most common use case for this type of material.
Regular material on the left, Foliage material on the right
When selecting “Clearcoat” as material type, the Enscape Material Editor interface removes the transparency option altogether.
The Clearcoat material imitates the type of paint that you find on car bodies. So, essentially the Clearcoat is a transparent resin material, and the color is defined via the Albedo option in the Material Editor window.
This material, therefore, is shiny and reflective by default, although you do have the option to dial back the reflective properties, as well as add a bump map.
Clearcoat material with Enscape orange selected as the base color.
All texture slots used and their texture buttons above the settings
By clicking any of the texture symbols at the top of the Enscape Material Editor, or any of the blue and underlined image file names next to “Texture”, you’ll enter the actual Texture Editor interface.
Here you can
The Texture Editor interface is the same for any texture Type. It’s meant to allow for simple image editing operations without having to leave the Material Editor.
Texture Editor window in the Enscape native Material Editor
Before introducing the Enscape native Material Editor, you could set a material’s properties by using keywords that you simply had to include in the material name in the native Rhino Material Editor. This framework is still included in the Enscape feature set, and can be used freely alongside the Enscape Material Editor for greater comfort.
These are the keywords to include in the Rhino material name to tell Enscape how to display them.
Enscape special material parameters in Rhino
|Water, Ocean, River||Draws the material as a water surface.|
|Vegetation, Foliage, Leaf||Adds translucency to thin surfaces (single face only).|
|Grass, Wild Grass, Tall Grass, Short Grass||Realistic grass material based on the underlying surface color. Notice there are 4 varieties to choose from. Grass can only be currently applied to horizontal surfaces.|
|Chrome, Mirror, Steel, Copper, Metal, Aluminium||Draws the material as metal surface with – depending on its Glossiness & Reflectivity – sharper reflections.|
|Glossyenvironment||Enables a more realistic reflection for the material.|
|Clearcoat||Produces a car paint like finish.|
|Long Carpet, Short Carpet||Produces a carpet like material, either long or short, based on the underlying surface color or texture file.|
The following image indicates the possible properties for the Custom materials that can be changed in Rhino’s Material Editor. Areas that have a white overlay are not supported by Enscape, or are not currently available. All the Advanced Settings are functional.
Rhino's Material properties options
In Rhino’s Material Editor it is still possible to adjust how some of the parameters of your materials are displayed in Enscape.
Emissive textures can be implemented by the use of Rhino’s Material Editor:
Rhino 6 Emissive material settings
In Rhino 5 you only need to choose the Emission color to set an Emissive material.
Rhino 5 Emissive material settings
Color mapping in Rhino 6 and 7 has essentially the same controls. Check the Color box in Rhino, and Rhino will prompt you to select your Color Map, the transparency of which can be controlled by the numerical input box to the right (values between 0% – 100%).
Rhino Color Texture Map settings
Bump mapping in Rhino 5 and 6 has essentially the same controls. Check the Bump box in Rhino, and Rhino will prompt you to select your Bump Map, the transparency of which can be controlled by the numerical input box to the right (values between 0% – 100%).
Rhino Bump Texture Map settings
Emissive textures can be implemented through the use of Rhino’s Material Editor by checking the Self-Illumination option (Rhino 6), and by also choosing the Emission color.
The following image shows how textures can be applied using UV Mapping and adjusted in the Rhino material editor for Enscape. Output Adjustment is supported in both Rhino 6 and Rhino 7. UV’s always relate to the Mapping Channel = 1, even if another channel is elected.
Rhino's UV Mapping options