How to Make Convincing Platinum, Gold, Silver, Copper, Brass, and Bronze
This is my first tutorial on anything so bear with me; I will try to be as complete as possible. I decided to write this tutorial for two reasons; firstly to benefit those in the online CG community who have helped me get started with their wonderful tutorials and advice as well as those just starting to find their way in CG, and secondly because I could not find any similar tutorials that yielded what I would consider satisfactory results.
As we all know 3Ds Max does not come with a decent precious or semi-precious metal material. Originally I tried making my own gold by modifying the dark gold material that comes with 3Ds Max, but as you may imagine that did not turn out well. So going online I found many tutorials dealing with gold, a few that included copper, and one or two that included brass. They were all needlessly complex, took forever to put together, delivered results that were less than spectacular, took too long to render, or had some combination of the afore-mentioned problems. So having a little more experience in 3Ds Max and being fed up with trying to follow tutorials that were not giving the results I liked; I went back to my own drawing board.
The metals will all be shown initially in a polished state in order to display the Material without any effects from the different surfaces I will show you at the end of the tutorial. Also despite my complaint about long render times, be aware that if you follow my instructions in setting up the test scene for the Materials it will take a minute or two to render. This is because I jacked up the triangle count on the teapot (160,000) in order to give it a very smooth surface so that the Materials could be shown without any deformation due to blocky geometry. One final note before I get into it, I will assume that all the menus and panels are in their default placements, if you are advanced enough to have re-arranged the layout I will assume you are advanced enough to find where you put the different parts of the interface. I will not get too into the physics of light reflection/refraction because lets face it, if thats what you wanted you would have bought a book on color theory.
The tutorial will be split up into several parts:
1) Immediately following on this page is a very basic scene to display our work and the Materials we will create
2) Gold and Copper Materials
3) Brass and Bronze Materials
4) Platinum and Silver Materials
5) Four basic finishes that are appropriate for use with each of the metals and some considerations for aging the metals
If you have not already, go ahead and start up 3Ds Max. Now click in the Perspective viewport and then click the Maximize Viewport Toggle to maximize it. In the Create Panel make sure Standard Primitives are selected in the drop down box. Next click the Plane primitive and click and drag in the viewport to create a plane. Do not worry about where to make it or how big, we will set that now. With the Plane still selected click the Select & Move button on the top toolbar then press F12 to bring up the Move Transform Type-In dialog. In the Absolute:World group enter 0 for X, Y, and Z then close the dialog by clicking the large X to the right of the title bar. Next with the plane still selected click the Modify panel and where it says Length enter 1000, do the same for the Width box.
Now click the create panel again to leave the Modify panel and press M on your keyboard to bring up the Material Editor. Click on the first sphere and where it says 01-Default select the text and type in Floor. Leave Blinn as the shader and in the Blinn Basic Parameters rollout in the Specualr Highlights section enter 67 for Specular Level and 42 for Glossiness. Now scroll down to the maps rollout and click where it says Maps to expand it if it is not already expanded. Click on the long grey button that says None next to Diffuse Color. The Material/Map Browser Window will open double click Checker in the list to select the checker map. The Material/Map Browser Window will close and you will be looking at the settings for the Checker Map. In the Coordinates rollout set the Tiling for both U and V to 100. Set the angle for W to 45. Leave everything else here as it is and press the Go To Parent Button. Now click the long grey button that says None next to Reflection. Once again the Material/Map Browser Window will open, this time double click Falloff Map to select it and close the Material/Map Browser Window. Click the long grey None button next to the second color and in the list and double click Raytrace. Leave the defaults alone and click the Go To Parent Button to go back to the Falloff map options and change the Falloff Type to Fresnel.
Now scroll down to the Mix Curve rollout. Right click both terminators on the line drawn on the graph and select Bezier-Corner. Now you will notice a short line and a black terminatior extending from each terminator on the line. Left click the new terminator coming off the right side of the line and drag it to the top left corner of the graph. Next Left click the new terminator coming off the left side of the line and drag it all the way to the left of the graph and about two thirds of the way up. It should look like the image below.
One last thing and we are done with the scene.
In the Create Panel click Teapot and click and drag in the viewport to create a Teapot in the middle of the scene any size you want. Now click the Select and Move button again and press F12 to bring up the Move Transform Type-In dialog again and once again enter 0 for X, Y, and Z. Now go to the Modify Panel again and set Segments to 50. We are done with the basic scene; the Teapot will be the object we apply our metal Materials to.