Better Texture/Material Application Techniques

Wanting Blender 2.5 to be as good as it can be, and being familiar with the objections that many non-Blender users have had, over the years, to NOT using Blender, allow me to bring up the following observation:

The Material/Texture pipeline, as it seems to be developing in Blender 2.5, at this moment in time, remains a rather convoluted one, requiring the user to jump back and forth between several “panels” to accomplish rather simple, ordinary tasks - like creating a “blank” image file with default colors, resolution, material properties and a loaded bitmap texture. Also, loading textures, with material defaults, for use as sculpting and projection painting brushes remains a convoluted process.

Shouldn’t there be a simpler way to just assign material properties and texture properties, all within the same “panel” or “window”? One where you can quickly set basic material properties and load a texture or create one from scratch?

This is such a common set of procedures that it impresses me it could be much more direct, take up far less interface space and require far fewer mouse clicks, buttons to push and panels to switch between.

How do you feel about it?

Greg Smith

Can you try to come up with a mockup to show how you would do everything in one panel without removing any functionality from 2.49, if it removes even one small feature it’s a no-go.


If not even one feature can be excluded from this particular panel I speak of, then it is, indeed, a no go.

It just seems to me that there should exist, perhaps alongside of the present way of doing things, and their associated panels, (which is really almost as complicated as the old, 2.4 way of doing things), a “fast” panel or “window” that let’s you quickly unwrap your model, assign some textures to various aspects of a brush, (bump textures, displacement textures, color textures), and just start “Texture Painting”, utilizing the layer system.

As it is now, this is not at all a simple process - one that would require a very detailed set of step by step instructions on how to make it work. Now, I’m familiar with the argument that says that the process is also complicated in any of the other notable applications out there, I just think we should provide something faster, less complicated and more efficient to use than the NON-competition. That’s all.

But, it’s only my observation and this, by itself, won’t effect any change in the course of events, at all.

Greg Smith

I do a lot of work in video games and every company I work at builds there own custom material pipeline to sit on top of the program (in maya mostly…)

It gets to the point that at many companies none of the art team knows how to use the hypershade (maya’s built in material manager) because they’re used to the custom tools and pipeline that are provided as in house tools that are fast and flexible at the expense of being full featured…

you can always look to the “full detail view” when you need to… (in maya you can always go to the hypershade…)

If all you’re interested in is image based textures for example (procedurals aint realtime) the workflow can be sped up incredibly…

Recently I wrote a script to allow fast assignment of materials to faces (access all the materials in the scene, don’t worry about attaching them to the mesh then the faces…) I realised how easy it’d be to write a simple material handler as a custom script… just a “fast” interface for common things (a fast pipeline for creating materials with some of the following for example: colour map, spec map, normal map and environment map)

perhaps add an easy setup for mixing two material with vertex colour modulated blend…

The above gets me 80- 90% of the way there and would be a lightning quick alternative to the “full” material editor…

I will write it at some point!

Bruce, we crossed the post…

For texture painting… I agree there could be a quicker “management system”… but with the whole brush system being re-written (in a very good way) I’m tempted to wait and see on that one before scripting a fast and limited workflow…


Still, thank you for confirming that there could and should be a “fast panel” for material/texture assignment - primarily in association with the texture painting part of Blender. I do believe the brush system is being improved as we speak, but the way in which the user must assign image based textures, (which most artists use by default), probably will rely on using the existing Material and Texture panels, as well as the UV/Image window.

3 or 4 panels to get simple, regular kinds of things done is simply too many. I think.

Thanks again,

Greg Smith

I think many people have said something similar before, but we can’t turn Blender into a program for dummies with many useful features stripped out. Then the dummies would like it because it’s easy, but will cause advanced, serious, and professional users to bash their head in on their work-desk.

You can make your Blender for dummies to an extent already, just edit all of the python UI and menu scripts to what you see fit, upload it to your preferred filehost and advertise it as a ‘simple’ version of Blender. Then the people who don’t know what a polygon is can use that and the more advanced users like me can use the regular Blender maybe with the addition of python tools as well.


It always amazes me how people like you either don’t read a post from someone else, in its entirety, or you assert they are ignorant fools just to make your point. Why make a legitimate request for a faster, more efficient Blender into a “Blender for Dummies” argument?

Do you honestly believe that everything that is complex is somehow “professional” in nature? That without endless complication, requiring a convoluted set of steps, a job cannot be finished in a professional fashion? Are you head of the committee for Blender design standards?

NOBODY is suggesting that features be taken away, only making the most common, day to day chores much faster to perform - for all kinds of users.

Get off your horse and step outside.

Greg Smith

Have a banana - it’s a good day for it!

This has been said a few times before, but for 2.50 there is no plan to change the material/texture workflow much, it will simply be the same as 2.4 with perhaps some tweaks. It’s simply a matter of picking feasible targets for the first 2.5 release, later 2.5x versions will likely see a more thorough review.

The underlying issue is not simple and requires deep changes, here’s a list of some of the things:

  • UV Texture layers managing should just be for UVs, none of this texface stuff.
  • Texturing painting should be much more focused on the texture buttons.
  • Adding new image should be possible from image texture panel, next to open.
  • Active texture slot or node is what you paint on.
  • Image textures should be mapped to UVs by default, rather than Orco.
  • Using alpha from image textures should be default/automatic.
  • Image textures should be possible to associate with a mesh somehow, rather than the material. Assigning to individual mesh faces should be possible too, but with more work.
  • In texture paint mode, if no UVs exist, there should be a button to setup things.

The last thing should be pretty easy to do by the time 2.50 is released, by making a “quick setup” operator for texture paint mode, that does an automatic uv unwrap, and sets up a material with new image textures mapped to various things. But the other stuff, that will take longer unless some developer decides to pick it up before October.


This is good news, indeed. I think what you have outlined addresses most of my concerns. It would be nice if we keep users up to date as the first things are added, since it will cause many to take a second or third look at Blender.

Thanks again for the update,

Greg Smith