How do I practice materials? (Examples Included)

So I do 3D modelling as a hobby, primarily archviz. I keep getting to the stage where I spend a lot of time working on a project, and either give up after I’ve modelled everything or after I’ve started the materials.

I just find I can’t get the right look, no matter what I do. I had the problem when I worked solely in 3ds max, and now it’s even worse in UE4. I can’t practice materials without needing a scene, but I can’t even set up a material practice scene because 1. The material/reflections will look different with a complete scene and 2. My lighting isn’t good enough, which I can’t practice without decent materials!

Here’s some of my half finished projects (Modelled everything myself with the exception of the chairs and car in 3.):

[UE4 (Modelling in 3DS Max)]

  1. Chinese Temple
  2. Modern House (Reference)

[3DS Max]
3. Modern House (Reference)
4. Tempe House (Reference)

I understand the basics of material creation in UE4, but can’t seem to find any specific, advanced tutorials. So what’s the best way I can improve my architecture materials?

Any help appreciated.

As long as you follow PBR guidelines, you should get good results.

  1. Use Base Color or Albedo values based off PBR charts. Do not put any lighting information or ambient occlusion in this texture. Know if you are using linear values or sRGB values.

  2. There’s no need to use a specular value for most materials. I only tweak it for special use case materials.

  3. Roughness is where you want to put in most of your detail. You’ll mostly eyeball it based off reference images. Lots of contrast will make something look dirty, and super clean surfaces can get away with a constant value.

  4. Create a good normal map. This is where the surface detail and lighting will really come into play.

And that’s all you need. If you create good PBR materials, they will look right regardless of the scene.

You could see if you can find a PBR shader for 3DS Max.

I’d suggest trying some of the PBR texture creation tools like Substance Painter/Designer and Quixel Suite. They really aid in the process of making good materials.

I second this, they make life a lot easier.

Appreciate it ZacD that’s a lot of good info.

Blown away with Quixel, it’s a great piece of software.
Here’s an egg chair I modelled in Max, thisis the best I could come up with in UE4 and this was done in Quixel in about half an hour. Also this was the best part of the software :smiley:

But yeah really impressed, makes texturing a lot less daunting.

Quixel is an excellent program to use for texturing. If you are a college student or educator you could also give Substance Package a shot for free. There’s also a beautiful Substance to UE4 plugin that makes life much easier. As for practicing materials, tell yourself what sort of material you want to make, and don’t stop until you make it. Don’t be afraid to also read the UE4 documentation.

AmityAbstracts: Thanks I’ve downloaded the Substance Painter I’ll def try it out.

I’ve moved onto another project based on thisimage. Only done the wheels/suspension, but already getting some alright results with Quixel Suite 2. But you’re right, sometimes I get a good results straight away, other times I work and work and still can’t get the results I want. Or it looks too different in UE4.
Don’t know if anyone would be interested, but I’d love to send my 3ds Max file to someone to see what they could come up with in terms of materials/textures. It’s all unwrapped. I know there’s not much there atm and would be a pretty dull texturing but I’ll keep updating when I add some more things and make the scene more interesting.

I have been looking into Quixel and Substance as well. From an architectural visualization perspective, does anyone seem to have a preference of one being better than the other? My materials in my scenes seem pretty dull so I’m looking for ways to make them look more realistic. I wasn’t sure if either of these programs are more powerful for architectural materials.

And for the Substance programs, what is the difference between Painter and Designer? I can’t really seem to see a difference from their site.

Painter is designed around painting textures for a specific asset, you have layers like you would in photoshop, and a lot of pre-made Substance materials that you can layer, paint, and tweak. Also there’s custom brushes and effects.

Substance designer is more suited for creating tiling textures or making procedural textures for assets, not for fine tuning a specific asset. Substance Designer materials are called substances and feed really well into Substance painter.

Allegorthmic’s site has a lot of information about how artists are using it for Arch Viz.

Said I’d update so here is the basic train with terrible lighting. Google drive here to grab the 2016 .max file if you want. Train looks super simple as most of the detail will be from Normal maps.

This is straying away from ArchViz so I might create a new post in Work in Progress. Thanks for the help all.