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In this section we look at how to set up the various material parameters in Blender, and what you should expect as a result. We also give hints about practical material usage.

Creating a new Material

Add new material.
Every time a new Object is created it has no material linked to it. By pressing the F5 key or clicking on Manual-Part-III-MatButton.png, you switch to the Shading context and the Material Buttons window appears. This window should be almost empty at this point.

Adding a new material is done with the menu button shown in Add new material.. The following options are available:

Add New
Add a new material and link it to the active object or object data. Like other datablocks, Blender will automatically set its name to Material.001 and so on. It's a very good idea to give your materials clear names so you can keep track of them, especially when they're linked to multiple objects.
Select an existing material (First Material Button.png)
Choose an existing material from a list. If there are LOTS of materials, you will see a choice "DataSelect". Click that and one of your windows will change to a data browser window, listing all of the materials for you to choose from.

Sharing a Material from another object

Blender is built to allow you to reuse anything, including material settings, between many objects. Instead of creating duplicate materials, you can simply re-use an existing material. There are two ways to do this:

  • With the mesh selected, click the up-down selector arrow located to the left of the Material name. The popup list shows you all the current materials. To use one, just click on it.
  • In the 3D View, with CtrlL you can quickly link all selected objects to the material (and other aspects) of the active object. Very useful if you need to set a large number of objects to the same material; just select all of them, then the object that has the desired material, and CtrlL link them to that "parent".

Materials Options

Once the object has at least one material linked to it, many new panels (some tabbed) are readily displayed to allow you to precisely control the shading of the material. Using each of these panels is discussed in the next section.

The preview panel attempts to show you what the shader will produce for different kinds of geometric basic shapes. Depending on your buttons window layout, some panels may be tabbed under others, or collapsed.