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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Creating a Transparency Map

While hardware manufacturers continue to push the limits of data processing speed, three-dimensional modelers like us are pushing our computers even harder. It goes without saying then that when an opportunity presents itself to reduce the time constraints of our work, we take full advantage... or at least we should! There are many ways to reduce your rendering times, just one of which I will explain in this tutorial. What I'm about to show you is by no means a secret. In fact, every serious 3d modeler should have it in their arsenal. The little trick we'll learn today is called transparency mapping. That's right, no longer do you have to model or render that chain-link fence as thousands of little solids. With transparency mapping, you can assign a transparent mesh material to the transparent areas!

One thing to keep in mind as you read this, or any other tutorial, is that there is always more than one way to skin a cat. I.E. Don't assume that this is the only or the best way to accomplish our goal. For the purpose of this tutorial, we will create a chain-link mesh material that, when rendered, is transparent in the locations we specify. Take a minute to catch your breath, grab a snicky-snack and strap in for the ride of your life! Ok so maybe it's not that exciting, but it will save you loads of rendering time.

To make following along easier, you should download the mesh map and the stainless steel map. This tutorial assumes that you know the basics of how materials work in Revit.

1. Open up Revit, start a new project and go to Settings > Materials

2. In the Materials dialog box, choose �Default� or any other material for that matter� and click Duplicate. The New Material dialog will open, type �Mesh� and click OK

3. Back in the Materials dialog, under AccuRender, click

4. So far so good right? Ok, next we�re going to create a new material. Go to Material > New > Default Gray�

5. In the Material Editor, select the Maps tab then click Add under Image Mapping

6. Navigate to the directory you saved the maps in and choose �map.jpg�. Click Open

7. In the Image Mapping dialog, select the Map tab and under Masking, choose Color.

8. At this point, your X will probably turn green or whatever color you have in the box at the lower right. Using the eye-drop tool, select the area that you want to be transparent. Be sure to check the Transparent box. As you can see, the sample display should now show your transparent areas. Click OK

Congratulations! You�ve just created a transparency map! If you�re like me, you�ve probably learned more in the last 10 minutes than the rest of the week so you better call it a day and let give your noggin a rest. The rest of you stick around cuz we�re going to add another level of realism to this material. The black lines for the transparency map are great, but we want our fence to be a metal texture. To do this, we�re going to add another map on top of our transparency map.

9. Back the Material Editor, under the Maps tab, choose Add.

10. Select stainless_steel.jpg and click Open

11. In the Image Mapping dialog, click OK

Simple as that! Now you have the stainless steel image mapped to your transparency map!

12. To save your material, click OK

13. Under Save Material As� Give it the name you want, and click OK

14. Click OK to exit out of the Material Library

15. Click OK to exit out of the Materials dialog and save your material.

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