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..::multiple single texture materials::..

To be perfectly honest, having one single texture to apply to multiple objects is just asking for trouble! In an ideal world you would have multiple versions of the same texture, shot on an overcast day with no discernable key light source.

However if your client has only provided one texture reference, then that’s what you’re going to have to work with. There are several ways to get around the “macro repeats” issue (noticeable areas of repeating texture, such as wood knots or grass patches), and most of them involve re-tiling and editing the base texture in Photoshop to create new variations, though you can get around this in 3ds max’s own Material Editor without too much trouble, though naturally this depends on the object you’re going to assign the texture to.

Wooden planks, for example, are quite easy to assign, if not a little tedious, as you will need to create multiple versions of the same material, tweaking colour values such as the Output and RGB levels, albeit very subtly, to create some colour and intensity variations to trick the eye. Hopefully your texture map is tiled, so you should be able to add some offset and/or tiling value variations to get the overall effect to break up even further.

If the objects aren’t instances then you could tweak the mapping co-ordinates as necessary, such as adding slight position or rotation offsets in the UVW mapping. Though the most tedious part is randomly assigning these materials to your scene objects; if you have multiple planks of wood or tiles (etc) you will need to assign these at random by hand, or write a script to do so.

I have included a scene that utilises one single texture for the planks of wood, and one for the tiles, using exactly the methods described above. Remember that the Output and RGB offsets need to be very subtle; anything too high or low beyond the original value(s) will result in the texture being too bright or too dark which will stand out a mile at render time.

Enlarge Screenshot The original material consists of a basic single texture map in the diffuse slot, also duplicated as a bump map. In the Output rollout you can tweak texture output and RGB values.
Enlarge Screenshot However the really tedious part is assigning the materials at random to each object in the scene! Scripting could come into play here to cut down the work, but the results are worth the effort.
Download the max file! Zip file to accompany.

..::Quick Tip::..

In addition to tweaking the Output and RGB Offset & Levels, try using the freeware Color Correct plugin as a sub-map to add some subtle colour variations to the texture.

Initially published: 3D World magazine, Issue 93, August 2007.

Copyright Pete Draper, August 2007. Reproduction without permission prohibited.