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Chapter 9. Materials > Materials Overview

Materials Overview

Novice animators often gloss over applying materials and lighting to scenes. “Add a few lights, make this red, that blue—we're done!” The results are typically washed out, flat, and harsh. Much of traditional media artists' criticism of computer art is based on seeing crude, simple renderings that emphasize only the limitations of the process. Good art is possible with Maya, however; it just takes time to get more interesting and complex shading. CG artists spend as much, if not more, time on lights and materials as they do on modeling.

Materials are a critical part of creating attractive images and animation in a 3D program. Materials interact with lights, so lighting drives some material choices; for example, if your overall lighting is bright, you might need to make your scene materials somewhat more matte and light absorbing so that they don't blow out when hit by bright lights. Generally, you build your scene with lighting and materials progressing together, with frequent renderings to test your adjustments. Compensating for the limitations of virtual lights to create an effective and subtle light layout is an art, one that's discussed in the next chapter. In this chapter, you'll concentrate on materials.


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