Materials in Rhino

Overview

In the native Rhino Material editor Enscape only supports the basic materials in Rhino 5 and the custom materials in Rhino 6, 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 (currently SketchUp and Rhino 6 only) 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.

Opening the Enscape Material Editor

If you open the Material Editor with an empty project file, the Enscape Material Editor will look like this:

Empty Material Editor

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 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

Location of the Enscape Materials button in the Enscape toolbar

Create a Material

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

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’

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

Material Type is now set to 'Enscape' in the native Rhino Material Editor

You can then name your material.

Name the new 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 to be how you want it.

New material listed in Enscape.

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’

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 no be available in the Enscape native Material Editor.

Old material, set to Type ‘Enscape’ now editable 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

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.

Renamed material

Renamed material

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’.

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 initially set the Type to Plaster as default.

You then need to switch that Type to be set to ‘Enscape’.

Set the Material Type to 'Enscape' in the native Rhino Material Editor

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.

Search facility

Search facility

Material Types

The first thing we can look at changing in the Ensape Material Editor is the the material Type.

We have five types of materials to choose from:

Default
Grass
Water
Foliage
Clearcoat

Material Types

Material Types

Default

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.

It gives you control over the colorreflectivitytransparencysurface relief (bump) 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

Default Material

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. 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 no texture applied

Albedo with texture applied

Albedo with texture applied

Albedo Texture on cube

Albedo Texture on cube

Self-Illumination

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 settings area

Self-illumination set to texture on a cube

Self-illumination set to texture on a cube

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 settings area

Transparency settings 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 close-to-perfectly transparent portion of the surface, while a white area will appear almost completely 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.

Bump

The Bump option in the Enscape Material Editor allows you to utilize so called ‘Bump Maps’.

Bump maps, again, 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).

This is incredibly valuable for realism in your images!

Bump maps can make for incredible surface detail and noise, without having to use a lot of geometry or modeling. You can use this feature for noise on concrete surfaces, wood, or even full reliefs! This can go a long way in convincing the viewer that they are looking at a realistic picture.

The effects of a sample bump map on a cube

The effects of a sample bump map on a cube

As powerful as this feature is, it’s very easy to setup. Just select an image file using the – button. It doesn’t even have to be black & white, Enscape will take care of that for you.

Then, select the intensity of the effect, using the “Amount” slider. Negative values will invert the effect, causing dark areas to stick out and bright areas to be pushed in.

The Bump Map settings area

The Bump Map settings area

Pro 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: If you want to apply a bump effect to, e.g. an existing wood material, simply select the material in Rhino using the material editor. Click “Use Albedo” in the Bump area (and, if desired, in the Reflections area as well), select the right intensity with the “Amount” slider – Done!

Relections

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 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.
Cube with checker texture applied as a Roughness Map

Cube with checker texture applied as a Roughness Map

Grass

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 settings -> “Advanced” tab).

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.

Grass settings

Grass settings

Material set to Grass

Material set to Grass

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

Changing the height of the grass

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

Changing the variation of the grass

Water

The water texture will animate when you move around in Enscape and, like grass, has several keyword variations.

Water settings

Water settings

  • Water Color
    Choose a color that you would like your water tinted. No textures to be used this time – water color is set globally.
Composite image illustrating water color

Composite image illustrating water color

Water Settings

Control the water movement. 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.

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 wild or calm.

Wave settings sliders

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
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

Foliage

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.

Foliage settings

Foliage settings

Regular material on the left, Foliage material on the right

Regular material on the left, Foliage material on the right

Clearcoat

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 & their texture buttons above the settings

All texture slots used & their texture buttons above the settings

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 “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 with Rhino

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

Texture Editor window in the Enscape native Material Editor

Naming Keywords

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

Enscape special material parameters in Rhino

KEYWORDEXPLANATION
Water, Ocean, RiverDraws the material as a water surface.
Vegetation, Foliage, LeafAdds translucency to thin surfaces (single face only).
Grass, Wild Grass, Tall Grass, Short GrassRealistic 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, AluminiumDraws the material as metal surface with – depending on its Glossiness & Reflectivity – sharper reflections.
GlossyenvironmentEnables a more realistic reflection for the material
ClearcoatProduces a car paint like finish

The following image indicates the possible properties for Basic materials (Rhino 5) and Custom materials (Rhino 6) 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 in both Rhino 5 and Rhino 6.

Rhino's Material properties options

Rhino's Material properties options

Rhino Material Editor

In Rhino’s Material Editor it is still possible to adjust how some of the parameters of your materials are displayed in Enscape.

Gloss Finnish

Gloss Finish

Gloss Finish

Reflectivity

Reflectivity

Reflectivity

Transparency

Transparency

Transparency

Emissive

Emissive textures can be implemented by the use of Rhino’s Material Editor:

  1. Checking the Self-illumination option (Rhino 6)
  2. Choosing the Emission color.
Rhino 6 Emissive material settings

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

Rhino 5 Emissive material settings

Textures

Color Map

Color mapping in Rhino 5 and 6 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

Rhino Color Texture Map settings

Bump Map

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

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.

In Rhino 5  you only need to choose the Emission color to set an emissive material.

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 5 and Rhino 6. UV’s always relate to the Mapping Channel = 1, even if another channel is elected.

Rhino's UV Mapping options

Rhino's UV Mapping options


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