Rhino Material Editor vs. Thea Materials

Hello Rhino users and developers. I am a long time user of Rhino and during everyday use and work on commercial projects, I came across a few elements that hinder or complicate the work flow with Rhino. I would like to share with you about these “little things” and I would like to see if similar problems facing anyone else. It would be nice if someone could improve the situation or find any useful solution. Let’s talk about Rhino Material Editor. I am not sure how rhino handles owns materials and materials from different renderers. Currently I am working with TheaRenderer materials. I am not sure who is responsible for what, but it is not my business. I believe in cooperation between both parties. I just can talk about my experiences to both parties and I can only hope that someone will know what to do with that.

Link to Thea Forum same post: http://www.thearender.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=78&t=16104


1 Management
Material Editor is a place where appear materials used in the scene. However, if the scene is very large, the number of used materials rapidly grow and is very difficult and painful to move or search between them. It would be great to be able to organize them into named folders or groups and search them by name using the quick search box placed right above all material thumbnails (similarly like when content filter is applied). In my practice, I see a high number of materials used in the scene, which is about 100 and more.

[ 2 ] Slowdown
This huge number of materials bring not inconsiderable slowdown in Material Editor while in working process. When I move across all materials up and down using scroll bar, looking for the right material according the name (in List view), Rhino tries to always show previews immediately after I release mouse button from the scroll bar, and thus inhibit browsing through materials. In my opinion there should be some delay after releasing mouse to have a chance click the scroll bar again to move up or down before it starts fetch the material thumbnails. As it is now the scroll bar is usually available again after rhino fetches all listed materials on the screen, which takes tens of seconds.

If there were folders (cf. 1), the list to scroll would be shorter and would only display the material thumbnails in the open folder(s). As well as the quick search would filter out those materials matching with the search phrase which would shorten the list of displayed materials and it can save time when fetching just few thumbnails.

[ 3 ] Visual guiding
If you want to edit the material properties of one of the objects in the scene, you select the object in the scene, and Rhino also marks the assigned material(s) in the material editor. The problem is, that you have to scroll the whole huge list manually (with all the problems mentioned in article 2) looking for the small unnoticeable yellow corners to click to select the material and after then do some material edits.
Why the Rhino doesn’t scroll the list for selected material automatically? Why the background of selected material name in the list mode is not light yellow colour (like mouse over is light blue) to be more visible? Or the best why is not there “Filter selected” checkbox? It all will speed up the work flow.

[ 4 ] Duplicated materials with same names
If you work with several rhino files (e.g. with several project files or same project but files from multiple people) and you copy/paste 3d models from one file to another one, rhino makes material duplicities and keep the same names. I believe it happens because rhino finds some differences in materials specifications between existing and pasting materials. It looks good, but it is not. I’ll try to explain why while you should still keep in mind the big number of used materials in the scene.
When you work on project and you have lots of files there, you need to keep material consistency across all project files while you import or copy/paste parts of project between files. You know, it may happen that anyone who works on file can change some materials a bit (for example, replace the graphics on client request), but if anybody else imports that file or part of that file into another file using same materials names, rhino makes duplicities without any feedback to inform you about that or to give you any chance to choose how to handle that materials. You see everything right in viewport, Rhino shows same named materials correctly assigned to each objects in the scene. You still don’t have any clue that you should check material names and correct them manually to avoid improper results. If you happen not to notice that and the difference between both same named materials is pretty noticeable it leads to unexpected results in final renderings with TheaRenderer. What happens. Thea takes one of the first same named material and applies it to all objects which was originally assigned to another material in Rhino with the same name. So instead of two or more different materials you have only one and you never know which one it will be. Pretty unpredictable. And if it is not noticeable (it doesn’t look weird), or you don’t know about client request about graphic change, you don’t have any clue you are giving your work performed incorrectly.
I would expect Rhino asks user how to handle same named materials while inserting objects into the scene. Let users to choose between:
• Use scene materials (re-assign inserted objects with scene materials)
• Use imported materials
(re-assign scene objects with imported materials and delete previous original materials from the scene)
• Keep imported and scene materials (auto rename imported materials)

[ 5 ] Refresh all materials assignments
I don’t know when or why it happens, but sometimes during work or when you open the file Rhino doesn’t show white corners on materials assigned in the scene in Material Editor. Also in tree view sometimes you don’t see listed all materials (no filter applied). You have to use Tools > File Utilities > Purge Unused Information to refresh materials assignments. But it deletes not assigned materials. This is sometimes not useful. Is there any hidden command or another method to refresh materials assignments without loss of unused materials? Why is not there any Refresh button or command in Material Editor?

If you’ve read this far, I thank you for your patience, and I would like to apologize for some problematic structures of sentences. I’m not a native English speaker, and sometimes it is very difficult to express. Nevertheless, I believe that the problems outlined are clear and if not, I will answer any questions. I hope it will improve understanding of how others work with Rhino and what problems it can bring and what could be improved for better workflow. Thank you in advance for any improvements or ideas which can help all of us.

Any idea related to this topic?

Hi Petr,

I’ve moved this to the “Rhino for Windows” category where it is most appropriate.

  • Dale