Materials in Archicad

Overview

The native Archicad material editor supports only a texture and a transparency value – not necessarily sufficient to create visually stunning images such as the ones our users usually achieve .

To this affect, Enscape provides its own Material Editor specifically for Archicad to allow all Archicad users better access to powerful materials such as Bump- and Reflectivity maps.

In addition to this Knowledgebase Article, you will also find other tips and tricks in this Enscape Blog post.

Different amounts of bump on the wood floor

Different amounts of bump on the wood floor

Open the Material Editor

To open the Enscape material editor, simply click the Enscape Materials button in the Enscape Toolbar:

Enscape Material Editor button in Archicad

Enscape Material Editor button in Archicad

On opening the Material Editor, the window will first prompt you to “Select a material to edit it.” – so simply select any material of your choice from the list of material present in the project on the left hand side of that dialog.

Material Editor with no material selected for editing.

Material Editor with no material selected for editing.

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

IMPORTANT
Although not a requirement in Archicad, 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

Once you have selected a material to edit, you will notice that there are six material Types you assign to a material:

Material Types in the Material Editor

Material Types in the Material Editor

To make finding materials easier and quicker, notice how each material is listed with the corresponding symbol for the Type of material it is. These symbols are also colored the same as the Albedo Color slot.

Material Types and their symbols and colors

Material Types and their symbols and colors

Generic

The default material Type is the “Generic” material type which is best 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 color, reflectivity, transparency, surface relief (height) and the light emission of your material.

As this is the default material type it can generally be used for the majority of materials.

Material Editor showing a project's materials already created, as well as the material search facility.

Material Editor showing a project's materials already created, as well as the material search facility.

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 small blue folder symbol associated with that material slot. 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 Archicad directly.

The Albedo slot with no texture applied

The Albedo slot with no texture applied

Albedo slot with texture applied

Albedo slot with texture applied

Albedo Texture on Sphere

Albedo Texture on 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 assigned to Albedo slot in Enscape Material Editor

Video Texture assigned to Albedo slot in Enscape Material Editor

Transparency

The Transparency slot 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.

You can choose from Cutout (which is the default selection) which is a simple binary on / off enabled by adding a file to the Texture slot.

Or, Transmittance, which provides additional options such as Frosted Glass, Opacity, Refractive Index, and Tint Color.

The Transparency slot

The Transparency slot

  • 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 blue folder symbol next to the Texture slot. 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 Bump Map Settings options

The Bump Map Settings options

Pro Tip
When using a Bump map, 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

Sphere with checker texture applied as a Roughness Map

Sphere with checker texture applied as a Roughness Map

  • 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. If a texture is used, the Roughness slot will become disabled.
  • 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.

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 (with Dog Asset) in ArchiCAD Settings

Carpet Material (with Dog Asset) in ArchiCAD Settings

'Carpet' selected as Material Type and a texture applied

'Carpet' selected as Material Type and a texture applied

The Height and Height Variation Settings title is amended with Carpet when Carpet is selected as the Type in the Material Editor, otherwise these controls function in the same way as the Grass height controls.

Carpet material Type Height and Height Variation sliders

Carpet material Type Height and Height Variation sliders

Clearcoat

When selecting “Clearcoat” as material Type, the Enscape Material Editor interface removes the Transparency slot 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 Type

Clearcoat material Type

Clearcoat material with Enscape orange selected as the base color.

Clearcoat material with Enscape orange selected as the base color.

Foliage

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

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' selected as material Type

'Grass' selected as material Type

Grass Settings

Grass Settings

  • 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

Self-illuminated

The Self-illuminated material Type, when selected, tells Enscape to literally handle your material as if glowing, and emitting actual light. You can choose a Luminance between 1 and 100000 candela per square meter (cd/m²), as well as the color of the light.

Self-llumination area

Self-llumination area

Checker texture applied to Self Illumination Color

Checker texture applied to Self Illumination Color

Water

There are several parameters that can be adjusted in relation to the Enscape Water material.

The Water material will treat any surface it’s applied to as physical water.

The Water material will treat any surface it’s applied to as physical water.

  • 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
    If the Override Global Wind Settings is checked, you can then control the water movement independently. Otherwise the Wind Settings in the Visual Settings -> Atmosphere have precedence. Either way, use these sliders to change the speed and the direction your water is flowing to simulate e.g. a river.
Wind controls

Wind controls

  • Intensity
    Control the speed in which the water is flowing.
  • Direction Angle
    Control the overall direction water is moving in.
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, but will not happen in video exports or VR where the water will always have motion.
  • 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
    Fine tune the level of detail of the waters caustics and its Index of Refraction.
  • Caustics Intensity
    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

No caustics to 100% caustics visibility

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 Color, Visibility, Surface Detail (Height) and Roughness of a material.

By clicking any of the texture symbols at the top of the 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:

  • 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 Archicad

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.

The Texture Editor

The Texture 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.

So, 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 Material options

Import and Export 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 Material Package options

Export Material Package 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.

Batch Import *.matpkg option

Batch Import *.matpkg option

Naming Keywords

Before introducing the Material Editor, Enscape would let you decide material properties using keywords you simply had to include in the material name. This framework is still included in the Enscape feature set, and can be used freely alongside the material editor for greater comfort.

These are the keywords to include in the Archicad Material Name to tell Enscape how to display it more realistically.

Keywords and their effects

Keywords and their effects

KEYWORD EXPLANATION
Water, Ocean, River Draws the material as a water surface.
Vegetation, Foliage, Leaf Adds translucency to thin surfaces (single face).
Emissive Emissive material based on the material color.
Grass, Tall Grass, Wild Grass Realistic grass material based on the underlying surface color.
Long Carpet, Short Carpet A carpet material, either long or short, based on the underlying surface color or texture file.
Keywords and their effects

Keywords and their effects

Those keywords change the material parameters without changing their color. The color is still defined by the Archicad texture. The Archicad default roughness is 1.0.

KEYWORD EXPLANATION SPECULAR HIGHLIGHT
Glass, Glazing 0,0
Chrome, Mirror 0,0 Metal
Steel, Copper, Metal, Aluminium 0,3 Metal
Carpaint, Polished, Acryl 0,02
Ceramic 0,1
Marble 0,2
Plastic 0,5
Fabric, Cloth 0,8


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