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Hi Grasshopper designers,

in this blog post we provide you with an overview of the material settings recognized by ShapeDiver in Grasshopper models. In case you can’t wait and want to give it a try right away, go ahead: download and experiment using one of our example models

There are two ways to assign materials to the outputs of your Grasshopper definitions. If you are an experienced user, you might already be familiar with the combined use of the Material component with the Custom Preview component. We will start by giving a little reminder for this method. We will then mention our own ShapeDiver Material component, which was conceived as a less flexible but more straighforward alternative.

Custom preview

You will find the Custom Preview component in the Display menu. If you try to connect an output of your Grasshopper definition to it, the classic transparent red preview (or green, if the component is selected) will be switched for a nice, shiny pink object (see below with a sphere output).

You can disable the preview from the original output: the Custom Preview contains its version including the material. That way, what you see in Rhino is what you’ll get in the ShapeDiver viewer. You might not fancy pink too much, but this is just a default preset. The second input parameter to Custom Preview is a Material object, which you can create with the Grasshopper Material component.

The creation of a material object is a separate topic that surely needs another post on its own. Most importantly, Kd (diffuse color) controls the main color of the object, while T (transparency) and S (Shine) speak for themselves. Ks is called the specular color, and if your material is shiny, it will influence the color of its reflection. Finally Ke is called the emissive color, and in a dim environment it will give the impression that the object emits its own light of the corresponding color.

ShapeDiver Material component

It can take a while to master the creation of custom materials and achieve satisfying results. This is why we created the ShapeDiver Material component.

Download Material Component

It works essentially like the Custom Preview: give it some input geometry, and it will generate an object including the desired material. In this case, there are two other simple inputs to the component: a Material Index, and a simple Color. There are four possible values for the material index, each of them rendering the geometry differently in the ShapeDiver viewer: 1 is for a Basic mat material, 2 for a Plastic-looking object, 3 for a Metallic result and 4 for Glass.

Again, you can disable the preview from the original geometry and only leave the preview generated by the ShapeDiver component.
Note: This feature is still under development. Please signal any bugs you encounter. Please also note that at the moment, the preview inside Rhino does not reflect the end result obtained in the viewer.

Further reading

You might also be interested to read our blog posts on outputs and controls.

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Alex Schiftner This is correct, the material component will only use the first color or material fed into it.
guidorivai Currently the material component doesn't support a lists with multiple colours.