BricsCAD Journey – Part 30: Materials

Another fun stop on our BricsCAD Journey! This might be my favorite… so far! After modeling a building from scratch, it’s time to add some realism with materials.

3D Model with materials

Render Materials

You can access materials from the Render Materials panel. Simply right-click over any user interface element to turn it on.

Render Materials

The Render Materials panel includes two panes. The first one lists the materials that are defined in the current drawing. The second one lists materials that are defined in the library.

Render Materials panel

Drawing Materials

By default, new drawings contain only one material, Global.

Global material

You can double-click on a material to access material editing tools in Drawing Explorer. The materials you create or modify are only available in the current drawing. You can, however, add them to your Library to make them available for use in other drawings. You’ll find that option on the right-click menu. Another option allows you to change the row height of the materials list.

Drawing Materials

Library Materials

The materials library includes more than 600 pre-defined materials, plus any that you add. The pre-defined materials don’t download by default. You can select the ones you want, then double-click to download them. Icons indicate their status.

Library Materials

After a material downloads, you can right-click on it to add it to the current drawing. You can also delete materials from the right-click menu. They still display in the library list, but you’ll have to download them again or add them from another drawing if you wish to use them.

Add materials to drawing

Create and Edit Materials

BricsCAD includes tools to create and edit materials. Access them from the Materials panels in Drawing Explorer (EXPLORER command). The MAT command alias (MATERIALS command) also opens Drawing Explorer and automatically displays the Materials panels. Choose the New button on the toolbar to create a new material and modify its name. After it’s created you can use the Edit Material panel to customize the selected material.

Edit Material

The pre-defined materials, from Redway, are optimized for the Redway rendering engine that BricsCAD uses. They offer very high-quality visualization, but you can’t customize them. You can, however, convert them to regular materials which you can then customize. Simply select the Redway material, right-click and choose the option to Convert to regular material.

Convert to regular material

Apply Materials

With material definitions in your drawing, it’s easy to apply them to layers, entities or sub-entities. Ensure the Realistic visual style is current to view the materials on the model as you apply them.

The Layers panel includes a Material property where you can select from any of the materials defined in the drawing.

Material property for layers

If an entity’s Material property is set to ByLayer, it automatically inherits the layer’s material. You can override the layer material if you select the entity and change its Material property to a specific material. Sometimes you may want to apply different materials to a single entity. For example, the interior and exterior faces of a wall will likely require different materials. Or, the top of a roof will likely differ from the edges and bottom. You can select the specific faces you want to change.

Materials by entity

Material Map

Some materials may require a different orientation depending on the entity to which they’re applied. The wood grain on the deck, for example, should run vertically for the posts, horizontally for the platform rails, and at an angle for the stair rails. Fortunately, the Material Map tool (MATERIALMAP command), makes it easy to rotate materials using the Manipulator.

Material Map

Match Perspective

I thought I was done with my model, and I was rather impressed with its realism. But, it gets better! Thanks to Hans, head of BricsCAD core development, I learned about a cool tool that’s unique to BricsCAD. It’s called Match Perspective (MATCHPERSPECTIVE command) and it enables you to match the 3D model to a background image that you’ve inserted in the drawing (BACKGROUND command). It’s a lot like using the ALIGN command except you’re matching a 3D perspective model to a 2D image. Check it out!

The first image is a photo of the actual building as a background in the BricsCAD drawing. The second image shows the model matched to the photo!

Background image

Materials matched to background image

What’s Next?

I had so much fun working on this post, it’s going to be hard to beat. But, having studied Illumination Engineering in college, I’m already looking forward to the next stop on our BricsCAD Journey, Lights!

Looking Back

If you missed the previous tours on our BricsCAD Journey, it’s never too late to catch up! First, learn about functionality in the BricsCAD Classic Edition. Then, continue to the Pro Edition. Everything you learn about Classic also applies to Pro!




Heidi Hewett

As User Success Manager, Heidi brings her passion for learning to Bricsys, where she will work to help our customers understand the fastest path to success with BricsCAD products. During her 26-year tenure at Autodesk, Heidi worked as a Training Specialist, a Senior Applications Engineer and as a Technical Marketing Manager.

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