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How to Install Materials in Max

We are getting asked how to install the materials by some people and this isn’t necessarily cut and dry. I will offer a couple suggestions based on organization, I am not a big proponent of locating the maps when you hit render and the missing file dialogue comes up, I can’t help to think that the search routine starts taking longer when you have hundreds of paths saved. Hence, I will propose organization.

How to Install Materials:

It all depends on your work flow and system set up, for the first part of the discussion we will assume that you are using a stand alone work station. In your Max directory you will have a 'maps' directory where the texture files go and a 'materiallibraries' (matlib in older versions) were the files with the "mat" extension go (i.e. concrete-Stained01-RLT01.mat). If you throw them into your default directories you will not have to worry about the paths because they are already set up.

Example: c:/Program Files/Autodesk Max 2008/ = INSTALLATION DIRECTORY
Example: c:/Program Files/Autodesk Max 2008/maps/file.jpg, png, exr, etc.
Example: c:/Program Files/Autodesk Max 2008/materiallibraries/file.mat

However, you may want to customize the location of the 'mat' files for example and have a directory called "mentalray" in your "materiallibraries" directory, in which case you would go into max and add that path to your store paths so that Max can find them.

Example: c:/Program Files/Autodesk Max 2008/ = INSTALLATION DIRECTORY
Example: c:/Program Files/Autodesk Max 2008/maps/mentalray/file.jpg, png, exr, etc.
Example: c:/Program Files/Autodesk Max 2008/materiallibraries/mentalray/file.mat

This would allow you to keep your mental ray material and map files separate from your other 3rd party render engine material and map files. I personally have Maxwell and Vray directories set up as well but using the server method I will cover a bit later.


How to Install Materials in a More Organized Manner:

Now you can make a decision as to the level of organization you want, you can have just one Materials and Map directory in your mental ray directory, or you could have multiple material directories and one map directory or you could have multiple material directories with a map directory in each one. You ask why, and maybe I am anal retentive, but I would rather spend the time to locate files once and then easily find them later. I am going to provide a zip file with all the directories we used to organize the materials at MrMaterials.com. Now when you download “wood’ material files (for example), you can dump the zip file into the ‘wood’ directory and “unzip here”. If  the map files didn’t automatically unzip into the ‘map’ directory in the ‘wood’ directory you can dump them in there manually or you may want them in a “Map” directory in the root mental ray material directory or in the default ‘map’ directory, it is up to you. Now just make your Max has your new paths stored in the defaults (‘Customize > Configure User Paths’) so that you can use your materials painlessly. You may download the directories HERE


How to Install Materials on a Network Server:

This is the option that I use on my network, there may be more suitable methods that I am unaware of, but this is the setup I use. I personally don’t want the hassle of maintaining a consistent resource structure on each workstation for distributed rendering or the same project being worked on at different stations, so I use the following system.

The main network server's resource drive is mapped as drive ‘Z’ on the server and every workstation. I then edit the config file (installsettings.ini) for each installation of Max to point to the Z: drive for the material and map directories (I set up all my programs and render engines this way) and ‘Customize > Configure User Paths’ so that I only have to maintain one centralized resource drive for materials, models, etc. and the project files can be worked on at any workstation without missing resources, this also goes for distributed renderings and the whole gauntlet of issues that arise with multiple workstations. The directory structure can be the same as that discussed earlier except that they are all on a centralized drive mapped to the same letter or designation system on all workstations and all programs are configured to look there.

Example: z:/MaterialLibraries/Max 2008/ = SERVER MATERIAL DIRECTORY
Example: z:/ MaterialLibraries/Max 2008/maps/file.jpg, png, exr, etc.
Example: z:/ MaterialLibraries/Max 2008/materiallibraries/file.mat

However, you may want to customize the location of the 'mat' files for example and have a directory called "mentalray" in your "materiallibraries" directory, in which case you would go into max and add that path to your store paths so that Max can find them.

Example: z:/ MaterialLibraries/Max2008/ = SERVER MATERIAL DIRECTORY
Example: z:/ MaterialLibraries/Max2008/maps/mentalray/file.jpg, png, exr, etc.
Example: z:/ MaterialLibraries/Max2008/materiallibraries/mentalray/file.mat

The only method that doesn’t require any storage/revision of new directory paths is the one where you store all your materials in the default installation directories.  The other methods require that you store the correct paths to  your material and map files in your preferences (‘Customize > Configure User Paths’). You chose the method, this was just intended to show you some options and alternatives.

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