Recycle Your SoftView Materials

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So, everybody is talking about "going green". Something about reusing materials or something like that.

Well this Tutorial is about reusing materials and the "green" is the extra cha-ching in your pocket.

If you charge by the design rather than by the hour then every minute you save is extra cash in your pocket. If you charge by the hour then every minute saved helps your clients out. Saving is a good thing.

Say you spent 30 minutes or so tweaking all of the SoftView materials to make the 3D look great. You have all of the materials selected, you have set the Ambient, Diffuse, Specular, Emissive, etc. for each material to make them look perfect for the current lighting configuration.

You have a client meeting set up but the wife is running late. In comes the husband and with a big smile on your face you point to the screen and exclaim "Ta Daa!" Then the hemming and hawing begins. "I prefer a different color brick. I don't like that paint color. Those cabinets are a little dark." So as the husband watches, you make each change he requests. After about an hour of tweaking every imaginable color the wife finally shows up to the meeting and exclaims "What have you done? I loved it the way I saw it yesterday!" Then the fight begins. You quietly excuse yourself from the room to avoid flying objects that want to reside in the same space as your head.

After the shouting subsides you peek back in the door to survey the damage. Fortunately your office is as it was. They announce that they want everything back the way it was. You could spend the next 30 minutes changing everything back. Or, if you had saved your materials file, you could simply reload the materials and voila' you are back to the original.

SoftView allows you to save materials settings in a special file called a Materials File.

SoftView allows you to save materials settings in a special file called a Materials File. This allows you to save different materials so you can reuse them on the same project or even on different projects.

To save a Materials File, while in SoftView, select File-->Material File-->Save. You have the option of saving in the Material Files folder or you can create additional folders within the Materials File folder to contain your Materials File.

I prefer to create a new folder reflecting the name of the project and saving the materials file in this folder. I will give each file a different name such as Option 1, Red Brick, Dark Cabinets, etc. This gives a snapshot of your current settings so you can go back to them at a later time. You can also use these settings in another project if you wish.

Within the Materials Files folder is a special folder named Default. There are 5 files in this folder named 3d.spm, elevation.spm, roof plan.spm, roof profile.spm and section.spm. These files create a starting point when you create a new project and you haven't loaded a saved material file or made any changes.

3d.spm is the default SoftView materials file used for 3D. If you prefer different default materials settings you can set up the materials the way you want them and save over the 3d.spm file. This will make the current settings your new default settings. The other files are the defaults for elevations, roof plan, etc. These can be overwritten as well to suit your preferences.

To load a saved Materials File select File-->Materials File-->Load. Select your desired saved Materials File and the file is loaded. All of your materials are set just the way they were when you saved the file.



If you have the Status Bar turned on you can quickly change Materials Files. Just click on the name of the currently loaded Material File and select your new desired Materials File.

So save some green by recycling your materials. And use the time you save for something productive, like another round of golf. I hear that has something to do with green also.

Bill is the owner and maintainer of SoftPlanTuts.com

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