How to save materials in 3ds Max | Cg Blog

How to save materials in 3ds Max

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Still problems of love with Saving Materials and Material Editor?

Yeah, managing materials in 3ds Max could be more simple. Fortunately, the 2011 version is a little bit easier to use. In this post I use the 2012 version to illustrate the logic:  it’s easier to understand, and in the end I’ll wirte down some advice for 3ds max 2009 and similars.

One more clarification before you start. In this post I use the Material Editor Compact to give an universal explanation. Who has the latest versions will find the Slate Material Editor. To activate Compact version, open it and select: modes > compact material editor. Let’s get started 🙂


In this video I’ll show you how to save materials in 3ds Max.
(Watch the video and you don’t need to read the full post)

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Textual Version

The 2 options to handle in the Material Editor are:

  • Get Material
  • Put to Library

There are several ways I could follow to achieve the same result. Here the 3 steps I suggest:


1 - In the Material Editor (top), click GET MATERIAL  to open the Material/Map Browser. Click on the black triangle and select New Material Library to create a new library:

I called my file “mymaterials” and initially it appears empty:


2 - Drag the materials you created, from SAMPLE SLOTS to mymaterials.mat. You’ll see an asterisk appearing before “mymaterials”: It means the library has been updated but has not been saved yet.


3 - Finally, save it by clicking the right mouse button on the LIB indication (to the right of the rollout)> C: / Documents and Set.. >SAVE :

Done! Wow… the library is saved 🙂

When you will open again 3ds Max, just click on GET MATERIAL and you’ll see the first rollout: mymaterials.mat. Double click or a drag-and-drop to get the materials in the Material Editor.

Ok.. nice… uhmmm…  and what about “Put to Library”?

Whenever you have a new material and want to save it, just click Put To Libray to put it in your library… of course  ^_ ^

If before you already saved your library, you will have to choose between:

  • mymaterials.mat
  • Temporary Library

There is also a “temporary” space for materials. Choosing the “Temporary Library” you will save it just for the current session: close 3ds max and them will disappear.

If you choose “mymaterials.mat” you will save them forever! 😉



* * * Notes about 3ds Max 2009 and around * * *

In the previous versions (I tested 2009) the concept is very similar:

  1. Click Get Material
  2. “Browse from” is setted to “New”: you select “Mtl Library”
  3. Save As: mymaterials (for example)
  4. Use “Put to Library” to save your materials
  5. Save the library before closing 3ds Max

When you open again 3ds max, you have to reselect the library:

  1. Click Get Material
  2. “Browse from” is setted to “New”: you select “Mtl Library”
  3. Open> mymaterials.mat (for example)
  4. Double-click on the list to get the materials in the Material Editor

The difference is mainly in point 2: “Browse from”. It ‘a small thing but it is enough to cause confusion in the beginners.



PS I admit is not so friendly.. However follow these simple guidelines,  just play around and everything will be clear.

/ Also Learn Corona Renderer

21 Responses

  1. kevin says:

    thank you very much. I happened to be working on a project when I recieved the mail and it was a real saver

  2. The Tyro says:

    I found that saving the project and loading up the *.max file into my libary work better 🙂

  3. Richard says:

    nice tut, Ciro, but I thought you post st similar to this before?

  4. binu says:

    3dsmax 2012 material editor is quite boring and complicated, can i change to more user friendly 2009 type?

  5. muneer says:

    hey sometimes it’s helpful thanks 😀

  6. Walace apolo says:

    Very useful, thanks!!

  7. Fred says:

    Thanks a lot for the tip!

  8. CGNick says:

    thanks soo much. its a real life saver. thank you :))

  9. 181181 says:

    thanks ciro 🙂

  10. Yasemin Kayan Hanci says:

    Hi ciro,

    I’ve a problem with the Mat. slots. I cannot re-use the same slot for a different material. For Example: When I need an empty slot while working in a scene, I should be able to create a new material without effecting the material in the scene. normally there should pop up a window with the question shall I effect the scene, but it doesn’t happen. Is there any setting I have to add?
    Thanks for your help 🙂

  11. Yasemin Kayan Hanci says:

    Hi again, I remembered now…Thanks anyway 🙂

  12. Alejandro villar lluna says:

    When i change a material inmaterial slot,It Change in library too?

  13. Huzefa Mehdi says:

    Thank sir.

  14. Huzefa Mehdi says:

    Thanx Sir.

  15. hamed says:

    i had problem about saving materials,and now my problem is solved
    thank you

  16. Udesh Kumar says:

    Thanks sir….

  17. Ahmad SAbri says:

    I have a question. When i save the material its fine. But when i reopen the material in another file the map and bump that i put inside doesnt seem to work. Is it supposed to be that way?

  18. George says:

    Thank u man. You answered my long cry…………..
    It is really great.

  19. Manish says:

    Thx bro

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