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ColorEdge

Overview

ColorEdge is a procedural texture map for 3ds Max that allows you to create a two colour gradient along any visible edge of an object. Using the Editable Mesh object's Surface Property tools you can precisely control the placement of gradients and even add noise effects. This technique is particularly useful for blending between maps and materials, for example to create a transition between a road or path mesh that is placed above a terrain. The generated gradient includes separate controls for offset, width, ramp up and ramp down making it suitable for many different creative effects.

Left: without ColorEdge | Right: with ColorEdge

caution

Be aware that ColorEdge may slow down if you apply it to a very complex geometry. Although we use some caches and buffers to speed up the calculations, the plugin must compare each texture point with all edges and faces


Features

  • Create a two colour gradient on a surface's visible edges.
  • Fully procedural.
  • Easily define an edges visibility using 3ds Max's built-in Edit Mesh tools.
  • Define sizes for the gradients ramp up and ramp down distance.
  • Define an offset distance from a visible edge.
  • Add procedural noise to the gradient.

Procedures

To set an edge's visibility

  1. Convert the geometry to an Editable Mesh.
  2. Go to the Edge sub-Object level and select the edges you'd like to edit
  3. Set the edges' visibility using the Surface Properties. Set an edge to Visible to generate a gradient using ColorEdge, or hide the edge by clicking Invisible.

To control a material's opacity using ColorEdge

  1. Wire a new ColorEdge map to a Materials Opacity input.
  2. Leave the Near Edge and Far Edge colours at the default Black and White. Set the Colour ramp. For most purposes, you only need to edit the D3 value. Please see the interface section below for more about the other D values.
  3. Add Noise if desired.
  4. Set the mesh's edge visibility is described above

To blend between maps using ColorEdge

  1. Create a new Mix map.
  2. Wire the map to be used near the edge to Color 1.
  3. Wire the map to be used far from the edge to Color 2.
  4. Wire a new ColorEdge map to Mix Amount.
  5. Leave the Near Edge and Far Edge colours at the default Black and White. Set the Colour ramp. For most purposes, you only need to edit the D3 value. Please see the interface section below for more about the other D values.
  6. Add Noise if desired.
  7. Set the mesh's edge visibility is described above

Interface

Color Near Edge

Sets the colour used near the edge.

Color Far Edge

Sets the colour far from the edge

Colour Ramp

Defines the distances from the edge used to build a gradient using the supplied colours and the following parameters:

  • D0 - Offset sets an initial offset distance from the visible edge. Uses the Far Color.
  • D1 - Ramp Up

Sets the size of a gradient between the Far and the Near colour. Set this value to 0 to remove the ramp effect.

  • D2 - Width sets the size of a solid band of near colour. Set this value to 0 to remove the solid section.
  • D3 - Ramp Down sets the size of a gradient between the Near and the Far colour. Set this value to 0 to remove the ramp effect

Noise

Add noise effects to the gradient. using the same parameters found in Max's built-in texture maps.

Amount

The strength of the noise effect from 0 (to noise) to 1.

Noise Type

Allows the user to select from 3 types of noise generator:

  • Regular generates plain noise.
  • Fractal generates noise using a fractal algorithm and is used in conjunction with the Levels option to set the number of iterations.
  • Turbulence generates fractal noise with an absolute value function applied to it to make fault lines.

Size

Sets the scale of the noise function.

Phase

Allows the user to animate the noise effect.

Levels

Sets the number of fractal iterations or turbulence.

Noise Threshold group

When the noise value is above the Low threshold and below the High threshold, the dynamic range is stretched to fill 0 to 1. This causes a smaller discontinuity at the threshold transition and produces less potential aliasing.

High

Sets the high threshold.

Low

Sets the low threshold.

Smooth

Helps make a smoother transition from the threshold value to the noise value.When Smooth is 0, no smoothing is applied. When Smooth is 1, the maximum amount of smoothing is applied.

Installation

ColorEdge supports 3ds Max 9 and above. There is no automatic installer application, so you will need to install Clone manually by following these steps:

  1. Download alone from either the iToo Software website or Autodesk App Store.
  2. Extract the downloaded ZIP.
  3. Once extracted you will find a folder for each supported version of 3ds Max. Open the appropriate plugin folder and select ColorEdge.dlt.
  4. Copy ColorEdge.dlt to 3ds Max's plugin directory, usually located at C:\Program Files\Autodesk\3ds Max\Plugins