Apply Multiple Materials to an Object

An easy-to-follow, beginner oriented, tutorial that will help you assign multiple, distinct materials to a single object. This can prove to be useful when dealing with large objects, that feature multiple sub-elements. During the course of this article you’ll learn to use the Material ID counter and the Multi/Sub-object material. You’ll be using this technique and the Material ID counter all throughout your 3D career so learn them well.

The result you’ll get is nothing fancy in terms of imagery but it’s a perfect demonstration of this technique.
Apply Multiple=

1/4 The object

Fire-up 3DS Max, maximize the perspective viewport by pressing alt+w and create a simple box primitive from the Create {Create Tab}/ Geometry{Geometry tab} tab.
Apply Multiple=
Now while still selected, right click the box and convert the object to an Editable Poly
Apply Multiple=

2/4 Polygon Selection

Click the Modify tab {}, click the Polygon icon {Select Polygon} (or hit the “4“ key) and select a single face.
Apply Multiple=

3/4 Material ID’s

Scroll Down to the Polygon: Material IDs tab, set a number that will identify that polygon and press Enter. (this also works for multiple selected polygons). We set this polygon to 1.
Apply Multiple=
Do the same thing for the rest of the polygons (or just to a couple more of them) and remember to assign consecutive numbers. (The 3DS Max box primitive has its faces numbered from the get-go but it’s good practice).

Click the Create{Create Tab} tab to exit the sub-object level, hit the “M” key to access the Material Editor and select the first empty material.
Apply Multiple=
Click the Standard button next to the material’s name and assign a Multi/Sub-Object material.
Apply Multiple=
Click Discard material when asked, click the Set Numberand assign as many Material ID’s as you need. In this case we set it to 6.
Apply Multiple=
Now click the first material from the list (Material #0 Standard) and set its diffuse color to a deep red.
Apply Multiple=
Click the Go to Parent button {Go to Parent} from the material editor to return to the Multi/Sub-Object material.

Set the Diffuse to different colors for the rest of the sub-materials. Select the box and click the Assign Material to Selection button {Apply Material}.
Apply Multiple=

Apply Multiple=

4/4 Useful Info:

The different entries within the Multi/Sub-object material are full-blown, completely customizable materials. This means you can assign an endless combination of maps on a single object.

If you apply a simple material (instead of Multi/Sub-object one) to the object, it will disregard the material IDs you’ve assigned.

The material IDs have many more uses including assigning special, post-processing, effects to certain areas of your object.

Aasta lõpuks

ConGrats, this mutant, multi-colored cube can now be used for various malicious purposes.

More Info:


Born from an unhealthy cross-over between a rat and a pet hamster. Likes cheese, and chewing his way through virtual cardboard walls.

Original photo:  

Keytags:  , , , , , , , , , ,

Related Stuff:

Comments disabled for maintenance. Use the contact form for questions.

About the authors:


Programmer and 3D enthusiast. Teaches web design, builds games and maintains this site in his spare time.

Personal portfolio


2D/ 3D artist. Loves game& product art.

Personal portfolio


2D/ 3D artist. Works as a print designer and does 3D art in his spare time.

Personal portfolio