Using maps and images to mask a material's underlying color or another component is a powerful tool for creating convincing materials. Let master trainer Ted Boardman walk you through using the flexible tools in 3ds max 5 to make applying masks easier and more accurate.
For good control of materials with a high degree of realism, you can use masking in 3ds max. A mask is a pattern that hides something and reveals something else. Masks are based on the Luminance value, or brightness, of each pixel in the pattern used as the mask. Using a grayscale image as the mask usually makes it easier to visualize the values. Color patterns will work fine, but it might be difficult to tell the difference in brightness between a yellow pixel and a bright green pixel, for example. However, you can convert images from color to grayscale in most photo paint or image manipulation software.
Masking in Materials with Maps
Masks can be used at the material or map level in the Material Editor. At the material level, for example, you could have a Blend material made up of two materials: a red plastic and a bumpy blue material. When a black-and-white checkered mask is applied, the red plastic shows where the checks are white, and the bumpy blue material shows where the checks are black. With this form of masking, two complete materials can be hidden or revealed as needed. A simpler but equally powerful masking can be done at the Map level by using the Mask map type.