Materials in Vectorworks

Overview

Enscape provides a native Material Editor which is available for use in Vectorworks.

As a Vectorworks user, you should already be familiar with the Vectorworks’ Object Info’s Render tab, as well as the Resource Manager, as these are the the areas in Vectorworks where a material can be assigned and also where you can initiate the use of keywords for Enscape’s Special Materials, such as Water, Grass, and the Clearcoat materials.

Therefore, before a material becomes available for further adjustment or editing in the Enscape Material Editor it must be firstly applied to the surface in Vectorworks, via the Vectorworks’ Resource Manager and / or the Object Info’s Render tab.

Once that has been done, you can open the Enscape Material Editor to work on the material there, where the name of the material assigned to the surface in Vectorworks will become available in the Enscape Material Editor under that same material name.

Some options for materials in Vectorworks will still affect the materials appearance in the Enscape viewport (such as the Scale option) but this article will concentrate only on the Enscape Material Editor and how to use it.

Vectorworks Object Info dialog

Vectorworks Object Info dialog

Vectorworks Resource Manager dialog

Vectorworks Resource Manager dialog

Access the Material Editor

To open the Enscape material editor, make sure the Enscape  Tool Set is available via Tools -> Third-Party -> Enscape -> Add Enscape to workspace and then click the Enscape Material Tool button in the Enscape Tool Set:

Enscape Material Editor button

Enscape Material Editor button

Material Editor window open for a project

Material Editor window open for a project

This is the view in the Material Editor for a Vectorworks’ project that has already had the materials assigned before Enscape was installed and this is indicated by the materials various slots showing as ‘Embedded Texture’.

Both Vectorworks’ Class Textures and Textures will show up in the Material Editor as ‘Embedded Texture’ where they have already been applied in Vectorworks.

Two other functions that are available in the Enscape Material Editor are the menu button at the top which allows you to either Batch Import *.mattpkg files, or import materials from the Enscape Material Library.

You can also set the location where materials will be stored (such as a network drive)  via the ‘gear / cog’ symbol at the extreme bottom left of the Material Editor dialog and this is also cover in the Material Library article.

Other Material Editor options

Other Material Editor options

Tip
Although not a requirement in Vectorworks, we do recommend that before importing any materials from the Material Library, you should decide whether the project will be shared with another user for collaborative purposes. If this is the case, a storage location where all users working on a project will have access to. Therefore, you should pay attention to the ‘gear’ icon that can be found at the bottom left corner of the dialog in both the Material Library and the Material Editor. If you do not adjust the storage location then when a project file is opened by another user, that user may not be able to access the materials assigned in the project due to the default storage location being assigned locally by default, although Archicad should normally package the materials with the project file. This means that the materials assigned in the project may need to be manually reimported and reassigned.

Material Types

In general, there’s six types of materials you can select in the Enscape material editor:

Generic

The “Generic” material type is suited for any materials that aren’t supposed to be rendered as grass blades, water surface, or have translucency applied.

It gives you control over the colorreflectivitytransparencysurface relief (height) and light emission of your material.

This is the default material type and can be used for the majority of all possible materials.

Default Material Type

Default Material Type

NOTE
When using an Albedo color, if a material has ever been modified through the Enscape Material Editor and the material had originally contained a diffuse texture in the Revit Material Editor that additionally had the Image Fade set to less than 100% in the Revit Material Editor, any subsequent changes made to that material’s Albedo color via the Revit Material Editor will be ignored by Enscape. Only the changes to its Albedo color performed via the Enscape Material Editor are considered.

Albedo

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. If choosing a texture, you’ll also receive a “Tint Color” menu, allowing you to easily change the color of the texture used. Control the amount of influence on your texture using the “Image Fade” slider. Of course, Enscape will use any UV information (texture placement) it gets from Vectorworks.

Albedo Texture slot with Tint only applied

Albedo Texture slot with Tint only applied

Albedo slot with texture applied

Albedo slot with texture applied

Albedo texture applied to a sphere

Albedo texture applied to a sphere

Video Textures

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 limited to Cutout-Transparency allowing for the application of a mask texture. The adjustment or inversion of the brightness of the video texture in the Enscape Texture Editor becomes unavailable in this scenario.

Video texture applied to Albedo texture slot

Video texture applied to Albedo texture slot

Transparency

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 Options

Transparency Options

The Transparency area

The Transparency area

  • Texture
    The Texture parameter allows you to control the transparency using a 2D image, a map. It refers to the Opacity value, so a black area (which equals zero) on the image used will result in a perfectly transparent portion of the surface, while a white area will appear perfectly opaque. Grey areas will appear partially transparent, such as glass. If you load a colored image, Enscape will automatically convert it to black and white, so you don’t have to worry about that.
  • Opacity
    The Opacity slider controls the overall transparency of the surface. If you’re using it combined with a transparency map, it will define the maximum opacity, so white areas on said map will appear as opaque as you’ve set using this slider.
  • Tint Color
    This menu allows you to choose a color that should be added to any semi-transparent areas of your material. Very much like colored glass.
  • Refractive Index
    The Refractive Index slider determines by which factor light is being bent when traveling through a transparent surface. You know this effect from looking at a glass of water, or very thick glass.
    Air has a refractive index of 1.0 – so light rays travel through it in a straight line -, water has an index of 1.33, window glass 1.52, and, for example diamonds have an index of 2.42 – they bend light quite heavily.
    For further information on this topic, feel free to have a look at the Wikipedia article .
  • Frosted Glass
    If the Frosted Glass checkbox is enabled, Enscape will blur what’s visible through the transparent surface. The amount by which it’s blurred is being determined by the Roughness value in the Reflections area.
Transition from transparent sphere to one with transparency texture applied

Transition from transparent sphere to one with transparency texture applied

Height Maps

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 Bump map

Applying a Normal map

Applying a Normal map

Applying a Displacement 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 BumpNormal, 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 Height Map Settings options

The Height Map Settings options

Tip
If there’s already an Albedo texture applied to your material, you can just click “Use Albedo“. Enscape will then assign the color texture to the bump value. This offers a uniquely streamlined way to set up existing projects for Enscape.

Reflections

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

The Reflection settings area

  • Roughness
    The smoother the material (Roughness -> 0%), the more it will reflect it’s environment. The rougher the material is, the more it will diffuse incoming light.
  • Texture
    Again, you can also use 2D Images as a ‘Roughness Map’ to control the roughness value per location on your surface.
  • Metallic
    The Metallic-slider tells Enscape to treat the surface either as a non-metallic (e.g. plastic, ceramic..) reflective surface, or as a metallic one.
    Let’s say metallic surfaces behave more like a mirror, reflecting a clear image of their surrounding, while non-metallic surfaces show more of their actual surface, reflecting the environment rather vaguely.
  • Specular
    This value controls the amount by which light is being reflected when hitting a non-metallic surface at a steep angle, as opposed to light that’s hitting it rather from the side.
    If you’re not too familiar with this setting, it’s best to leave it around 50% for realistic results.
Sphere with checker texture applied as a Roughness Map

Sphere with checker texture applied as a Roughness Map

Grass

The Grass type material, as seen in the material editor, looks almost the same as the Generic 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 Height– and Reflections parts 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 -> Grass/Carpet Rendering option).

Grass Settings

Grass Settings

'Grass' selected as material type

'Grass' selected as material type

Height
The Height slider will stretch the sprites being used as grass blades, making them appear larger, making for higher grass.

Changing the grass height

Changing the grass height

Height Variation
The Height Variation slider adds a random factor to the grass height. This makes for a wilder looking, ragged grass.

Randomizing the grass blades

Randomizing the grass blades

  • Wind Settings
    The Grass material is now also affected by the global Wind setting found in the in the Visual Settings -> Atmosphere tab. You can adjust both the wind Intensity and Direction Angle, and this affect can be seen working when adjusting the Intensity slider, as well as when moving around in the Enscape Viewport and will be included in Video exports.
Wind Settings in the Visual Settings window

Wind Settings in the Visual Settings window

TOP TIP
Grass will only animate whilst you are moving around the Enscape viewport, as well as for about a further 2 seconds once entering a rest state. You can have grass animate constantly, even when at rest, via the General Settings dialog. There you will find a Performance option that contains a checkbox named Restmode. Uncheck Restmode to have animations on, even when at rest.

Carpet

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 applied in SketchUp using an underlying texture file in the Albedo slot.

Carpet material applied in SketchUp using an underlying texture file in the Albedo slot.

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 the Type in the Enscape Material Editor

Carpet selected as the Type in the Enscape Material Editor

Carpet Material Settings in the Material Editor

Carpet Material Settings in the Material Editor

Water

Here are the available settings for Water in the Enscape Material Editor.

Setting the Water Type for a material will tell Enscape to treat any surface it’s applied to as physical water, including waves & caustics.

Setting the Water Type for a material will tell Enscape to treat any surface it’s applied to as physical water, including waves & caustics.

  • Water Color
    Choose a color your water should be tinted in. No textures to be used this time – water color is set globally.
Separate faces and materials have been used in this image

Separate faces and materials have been used in this image

Wind Settings

Control the water movement. Change the speed and the direction your water is flowing to simulate e.g. a river.

This can be set using the global Wind Settings to be found in the Visual Setting-> Atmosphere tab, the same as for the Grass material. These global settings can be overridden for Water however, and this override is available in the Material Editor when Water is selected as material Type.

  • Intensity
    Control the speed in which the water is flowing.
  • Direction Angle
    Control the overall direction water is moving in.
Override Wind Settings option

Override Wind Settings option

ATTENTION
Don’t be surprised, water in Enscape will stop moving as soon as you stand still and stop moving the camera. This is intentional, and will not happen in video exports or VR. You can have the water animate all the time by unchecking the Restmode option in the General Settings dialog under the Performance option.

Wave Settings

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 rather wild or calm.

The Wave Settings sliders

The Wave Settings sliders

Height: The Height slider controls the height – or intensity – of waves in water materials.

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.

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.

Detail Settings

  • Caustics Intensity
    Under Detail Settings, Caustics Intensity controls the amount of light that 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 for the light to reflect off of.
Caustics Intensity

Caustics Intensity

No caustics to 100% caustics visibility

No caustics to 100% caustics visibility

Self-illuminated

The Self Illumination setting, when enabled, tells Enscape to literally handle your material as if it is 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 of the light.

Self Illumination set to active

Self Illumination set to active

Checker texture applied to Self Illumination Color

Checker texture applied to Self Illumination Color

Foliage Settings

When selecting “Foliage” as material type, the Enscape Material Editor interface will look identical to when selecting “Generic” as type.
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 (yes, this doesn’t work 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.

You can apply a material to two sides of the same face

You can apply a material to two sides of the same face

Regular material on the left, Foliage material on the right

Regular material on the left, Foliage material on the right

Clearcoat Settings

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 settings

Clearcoat settings

Clearcoat material with Enscape orange selected as the base color.

Clearcoat material with Enscape orange selected as the base color.

Texture Editor

All texture slots used showing the two possible ways to access the Texture Editor

All texture slots used showing the two possible ways to access the Texture Editor

You can use up to four textures at a time per Enscape material. Textures are being used to control ColorVisibilitySurface Detail and Roughness of a material.

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 any of the “Texture” slots, you’ll enter the actual Texture Editor interface.

Here you can:

  • Choose the image file for your texture
  • Change the brightness
  • Invert the colors of your image
  • Apply explicit texture transformations, if you don’t want to use the ones delivered from Vectorworks
The Texture Editor

The Texture Editor

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.

Importing and Exporting Materials

In order to be able to utilize existent materials, you can import multiple materials simultaneously via the Batch Import feature, or by importing a single material. You can also export single materials as a *.matpkg file.

To import a single material hover the mouse over any material listed on the left hand side of the Material Editor dialog and the material Type symbol will change to 3 dots.

Clicking on the 3 dots will reveal the menu options Export Material Package and Import Material Package. In order to import an existing material, click on Import Material Package which will allow you to navigate to the location of the *.matpkg file you wish to import.

Import and Export Package Material options

Import and Export Package Material options

To export a material package file (*.matpkg), click Export Material Package and this will allow you to choose the location you would like to save the file to.

Export Package Materials options

Export Package Materials options

Finally, to Batch Import .matpkg files you need to click on the three horizontal lines menu next to the Materials title at the top left of the Material Editor dialog and choose the Batch Import *.matpkg… option. This will open a dialog window to allow you to navigate to the  “.matpkg” files you would like to import. When Batch Importing the *.matpkg files you want to import must be in the same location.

Export a Single Material

Export a Single Material

Keywords

Enscape synchronizes with Vectorworks in real-time, so any changes you make to your materials in Vectorworks will immediately show up in a realistic render in Enscape as long as you have implemented the material correctly.

What follows is a summary of the material keywords that can be implemented in Vectorworks.

Keywords and their effects

Keywords and their effects

The following keywords inform Enscape how to display a material more realistically.

KEYWORD DISPLAYS IN ENSCAPE AS:
Water, Ocean, River Draws the material as a water surface.
Vegetation, Foliage, Leaf Adds translucency to thin surfaces (single face only).
Short Carpet, Long Carpet Creates a carpet material with either short of long sprites.
Grass, Short Grass, Tall Grass, Wild Grass Grass blades as medium, short, tall, or with varying blade height

The next set of keywords change the material parameters without changing the color image of the original shaders, which are may already be defined in the material.

NOTE: the following keywords should be applied in the Edit Texture dialog under the Name field.

It’s also worth pointing out at this point that the above listed materials, as well as some Enscape Assets, are affected by the global Wind settings that are found in the Visual Settings -> Atmosphere tab, where you can adjust both the wind Intensity and Direction Angle. This means that these materials animate when moving around in the Enscape Window, as well as when a Video is exported or when using Virtual Reality.

Wind Settings in the Visual Setting's Atmosphere tab.

Wind Settings in the Visual Setting's Atmosphere tab.

Keywords and their effects

Keywords and their effects

KEYWORD ROUGHNESS (0 -> 1) SPECULAR HIGHLIGHT
Glass, Glazing 0,0
Chrome, Mirror 0.0 Metal
Steel, Copper, Metal, Aluminium 0.3 Metal
Clearcoat, Polished 0.02
Ceramic 0.1
Marble 0.2
Plastic 0.5
Cloth 0.8

A simple example of this is to show the difference between the same material with and without the keyword ‘Aluminium’ in it’s name.

No keyword contained in the material name

No keyword contained in the material name

'Aluminium' keyword is contained in the texture name.

'Aluminium' keyword is contained in the texture name.

Examples of Keyword Implementation

What follows are some examples of the implementation of some of the material keywords mentioned above. These examples will give you an idea as to what you should expect to see when using these keywords.

Grass

The Grass keyword has four options, as mentioned above. The following images are what you should expect to see in your project when implementing these keywords.

Grass

Grass

Short Grass

Short Grass

Tall Grass

Tall Grass

Wild Grass

Wild Grass

Carpet

The Carpet material is similar to the Grass material, in that it can be applied to a horizontal surface only.

Short Carpet

Short Carpet

Long Carpet

Long Carpet

Water

The water texture will animate when you move around in Enscape and, like grass, has several keyword variations. Like the Grass and Carpet material, water can only be applied to horizontal surfaces.

The different water keywords will give you varying types water. So, for example the ‘Ocean’ keyword will display water with a larger scale of waves.

Water

Water

Water Settings

As mentioned at the top of this article, water movement can be affected by the Wind settings in the Visual Settings dialog under  the Atmosphere tab.  Change the speed and the direction your water is flowing to simulate e.g. a river.

  • Intensity
    Control the speed in which the water is flowing.
  • Direction Angle
    Control the overall direction water is moving in.
Wind settings that will affect how water behaves

Wind settings that will affect how water behaves

ATTENTION
Don’t be surprised, water in Enscape will stop moving as soon as you stand still and stop moving the camera. This is intentional, and will not happen in video exports or VR. You can have the water animate all the time by unchecking the Restmode option in the General Settings dialog under the Performance option.

Foliage

When selecting “Foliage” as the keyword, the difference this material  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 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

Regular material on the left, Foliage material on the right

Clearcoat

Selecting the “Clearcoat” keyword will imitate 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 Color Shader in the Vectorwork’s Edit Texture dialog.

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, which are both achieved once again via the Shaders in the Edit Texture dialog.

Clearcoat material with Enscape orange selected as the base color.

Clearcoat material with Enscape orange selected as the base color.

Emissive

One keyword that is not available in Vectorworks is the Emissive keyword. However, there is a workaround to this issue.

By converting the surface into an area light you can achieve the same effect. Simply select the surface that you would like to be emissive and in the Vectorworks’ top menu select Modify -> Convert -> Convert to Area Light.

NOTE: An emissive surface will only be emissive if the surface is in camera view, or if the surface included in the current view. This means that if the surface is off screen, it will have no affect.

Self-illumination set to texture on a cube

Self-illumination set to texture on a cube

Mirrors

When rendering in Enscape, mirrors may initially appear to be black because the material color is set to black. They do actually reflect properly but the black makes it hard to see. Please ensure you set the material color to white in order for the mirror to show up correctly in Enscape.

Editing the Color Shader for a Mirror

Editing the Color Shader for a Mirror


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    Materials in Archicad