Beginner: Putting different color / colours onto a single mesh

Classroom handout to help me explain how to put different colours onto multiple parts of a single mesh.

UPDATE: Small revisions done to the original PDF. Download the new PDF tutorial from [sorry - got pulled. Have to find more reliable hosting]

As promised, here is an HTML version based on the PDF…


This tutorial has been made in an attempt to demystify the process of adding more than one colour to a single mesh in Blender. It is assumed you already know how to add basic mesh shapes, navigate the views and switch between Edit, Object modes etc.

STEP 1: Start with a Decent Mesh

Start up Blender and you’re normally looking at a simple cube. We could colour the cube for this tutorial, but it’s much more interesting to colour something like the monkey face mesh.

Select the cube (right click on the cube in object mode) and then delete the it by hitting the X key. You should see a pop-up reading “Erase Selected Object(s)”. Click on the pop-up message and the cube should disappear.

With the targeting crosshairs in plain view and mouse pointer floating within the main view, press the SPACEBAR and follow the pop-up menus through “Add >> Mesh >> Monkey”. This should make a monkey face appear. Much more interesting than the cube which was there before!

Note: Each time you add a new mesh, the full mesh becomes selected and you are dumped into Edit mode. You can toggle full select using the A key, and it’s often a good idea to go into Object mode because Edit mode can cause unwanted mesh-merging with newly added shapes.

STEP 2: Create Base Materials

Go to the Shading / Materials section…

Click the Add New button for each new material / colour you want to make. After this, you can select each material by clicking on the up/down arrows to the left of that button.

When a material is selected, you should see a host of buttons to change its properties. Mainly, we are interested in the colour square next to “Col”.

It is good practise to rename the new materials from MA:material and MA:material.001 to something useful like MA:red or MA:white.

These materials are GLOBAL. Any mesh can use them.

STEP 3: Assign Vertex Group Areas

Go to the Editing section.

Under the tab “Link and Materials”, look for the panel “Vertex Groups”. Vertex Groups are LOCAL to your mesh. Currently the mesh has a single Vertex Group of only one material / colour, as shown by the label “1 MAT 1”. Most likely, the whole mesh has been assigned the colour of your last created material.

In a similar way you added new materials, hit the “New” button under Vertex groups to make allowance for each area you need. For example, if you hit it until “4 Mat 4” displays, then your mesh will be capable of supporting up to four materials / colours. At this point they will all be linked to the same base material / colour.

Currently, the entire mesh is assigned to Vertex Group “x Mat 1” (where x is the total number of areas).

In Edit mode, select part of the surface area you want to have a different material / colour. This new area will soon be assigned to “Mat 2”.

:):):):):):):):):):slight_smile: (speed tip begin)


Use Face Select mode to quickly select areas of your mesh for Vertex Groups. Face Select is symbolised as a triangle button below and to the right of your main window. Hold the SHIFT key to select multiple faces.

UV Face Select mode can also be used, but you must be back in Edit mode in order to actually assign areas to a Vertex Group.
:):):):):):):):):):slight_smile: (speed tip end)

The faces of your selected area should now have yellow surrounding edges.

Use the horizontal arrows either side of the “x Mat x” control to choose a different Vertex Group to this area. You should choose “Mat 2” (or whichever vertex group you want to update).

Important: You now need to hit the “Assign” button to make the selected area change from “Mat 1” to “Mat 2”. Make sure you are in Edit mode or this button will not work.

Now the selected mesh surface area has been assigned to the Vertex Group “Mat 2”. However, it does not look any different yet, because both “Mat 1” and “Mat 2” have the same material / colour.

With “Mat 2” (or whichever vertex group you want to change) selected, Go back to the “Shading / Materials” section. Under “Links and Pipeline”, where it says “Link to Object”, use the up/down arrows to choose a different material from the colour groups you made earlier.

…ta-daa!! You should now see the “Mat 2” area of your mesh change.

To add more colour areas to your mesh the steps are the same…

  • Select the areas of your mesh in Edit mode.
  • Assign the area to a different Vertex Group.
  • With that Vertex Group selected, go into “Shading / Materials” and choose a new material.

Copyright © 2006 Lance Flavell.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.

Download the updated PDF of this tutorial from here: [sorry - got pulled. Have to find more reliable hosting]
enjoy :slight_smile:

thx brotther

Hey - thanks mods for putting this up!

…I’ll try to update to an HTML version once I have a bit more time, so you won’t be forced to download the PDF but will be able to read straight from this forum.

Okay - HTML version done. Also a wee update to a few minor things in the original PDF.

Thanks Lancer !..
Very concise and well explained tutorial.

Nice beginner tut, lancer. :wink:
You might want to note that there’s a limit to the amount of materials per mesh. I think the limit was 8, but I’m not sure. Ever material also has a limit of different textures in it, which is the same as the limit of materials of a mesh (so 8 if I’m correct).

slick tutorial, but i do have a quick couple of questions…is that true that you can only have 8? i was not quite sure what the left number meant and the right number meant.(i.e. 7 mat 7) maybe you could explain that just a little bit better. thanks in advance

Good, but slightly inaccurate. Material Groups are NOT vertex groups. Please search and replace “vertex” with “Material”. Vertex groups are the groupies right next to the Material group buttons, but they do different things. Materials are assigned to faces, which are defined by vertices, but the group is a Material group. Vertex groups are used in bones and stuff and become available only in Edit mode.

And the limit is 16, not 8, and 10 textures.

Thanks a lot Lancer! Very useful post, I never knew how to do that!:yes:

anyone still have the pdf? all the images are gone

I´m also wondering where is the pdf? Can´t it be uploaded here as an attachment?

This is a really old thread from 2006. The site might not have even allowed that back then. Don’t worry though. The process is easy to follow. You just select the faces you want to assign your additional material to in edit mode and press assign in the properties editor.