In the May 2014 release of Fusion 360, we introduced a new Render workspace, a new workflow for adding materials, and a completely new set of beautiful Fusion 360 materials to make your design shine. In this post, we’ll walk you through the steps for adding, editing, and removing/replacing materials in the Fusion 360 materials library.
First, you will need to go into the rendering workspace. Click on the Model icon at the far left of the toolbar to switch to the Render workspace.
When you do this, you may notice that the environment changes slightly. This happens because the environments you use for modeling are different than the environments that have been created specifically for rendering.
Once you are in the rendering workspace, you will see new tools in the toolbar.
One set of tools for setting up the appearance of your model – called SETUP. And another set of tools for rendering and creating an image – called RENDER.
In this post, we will concentrate on the Appearance tool under SETUP.
Side Note About Materials in Fusion 360
Did you know that there are two types of materials in Fusion360? There are physical materials and appearance materials. Physical materials dictate what the object is made of and is used in mass calculations. Appearance materials dictate how the object will look when rendered.
The Appearance Dialog Box
Double click on the Appearance icon in the toolbar to open the appearance dialog box. The Appearance dialog box has several sections to it:
- Apply To – This allows you to switch between applying materials to bodies/components or individual faces.
- In This Design – This shows which materials have been assigned to parts of your design. Note: If you have the same material assigned to several parts on your model, it will only show up as one material in the In This Design section.
- Library – In this section, you can switch between the new Fusion 360 Appearance Library of materials and the Legacy Appearance Library. It also contains the folders and sub-folders of materials broken down by common categories and example swatches of the materials themselves.
Materials can be assigned to a component, an individual body, or a group of bodies or faces on a body.
Assigning Materials to Bodies
Click and hold on the desired material and drop it on the body – the body will have the material applied.
Pre-select bodies in the browser and drag a material on one of the selected bodies – the selected bodies will have the material applied.
Replace Applied Material
Drag a material from the materials library and drop it on an existing material in the In This Design section of the Appearance dialog box — all of the objects that the old material applied will now have the new material.
Bodies In a Group Folder
Drag a material to the browser’s top Bodies folder – the material will be applied to all of the bodies in the folder.
Note: If you apply a material to a group of bodies and one or more of those bodies already have a material applied you will be presented with the following question:
Remove – all of the existing applied materials will be replaced with the new material you applied.
Keep – only the bodies you selected that didn’t already have a material applied will have the new material applied.
Assigning Materials to Faces
You can also assign materials to individual faces on a model.
- In the Apply To section at the top of the Appearance dialog box, select Faces
- When you drag a material from the material library onto a body, you will notice that individual faces on the body will highlight as you hover over the top of them. Release the mouse button, and the highlighted face will receive the new material.
Note: If you apply a material to a body or a group of bodies and one or more of those bodies already have a material applied to a face, you will be presented with the following question:
Remove – all of the existing materials on the faces will be replaced with the new material you applied to the body.
Keep – all of the existing materials on the face will not be replaced with the new material you applied to the body.
Once a material has been applied to a body or face in your design, you can change the material’s look by editing it.
To edit a material, double click on the material swatch in the In This Design section of the Appearance dialog box. A small editor window will appear next to the Appearance dialog box.
In this editor window, you can:
- Change the name of the material.
- Edit the color – either by dragging the color sliders or by entering an RGB value.
- Change the scale of the texture map that is part of the material (if appropriate)
- Rotate the texture map that part of the material (if appropriate)
- Go to Advanced options
Clicking on the advanced options button will open up another dialog box with more parameters that will change the look of the material. The options in the advanced editor will differ depending on the material you are editing. The options in the example below are for textured plastic.
- Reflectance: How much light is reflected from the surface.
- Roughness: Controls how rough the surface is, which affects how shiny the surface appears.
- Relief Pattern (Bump): This shows the bump map that has been applied.
- Advanced Highlight Controls
- Color: changes the color of the highlight. Most of the time, you will leave this white for a realistic look.
- Shape: Change between smooth highlights (Long Falloff) and sharper highlights (Short Falloff)
Once you have finished editing, click the OK button or hit Cancel to go back to the original settings.
Duplicate a Material
Sometimes it is quicker to copy an existing material and change one parameter than creating new materials from scratch all the time. To duplicate a material, right-click on the swatch in the In This Design section of the Application dialog box and select Duplicate. A copy of the material appears and can be edited and assigned.
There will be times when you have been assigning/testing multiple materials, and you can end up with several swatches in the In This Design section that is not applied to any faces or bodies. To clean this up, right-click on any swatch and select Delete All Unused. Any unapplied material swatches will be deleted.
Check Your Work: Quick Render Mode
When you have finished applying and editing up your materials, you should start up the render in Quick mode to see how the materials will look when the Rapid Ray Tracer (RRT) is creating the image. From the toolbar, select Enable Ray Tracing under RENDER. The RAY TRACING dialog box will appear. Change the Quality setting to Quick.
Now you can assign and edit materials in the Fusion 360 materials library. As always, the Fusion 360 team would love to hear your feedback, so please let us know what you like, or would like improved, for materials and editing. Keep an eye on the blog for articles on working with environments and rendering.