S&box Wiki

Making Materials

Making Materials

A beginners guide to making materials

This is a basic beginners guide. Not the main method, there is a decent bit that is not on here regarding how to make nice materials, so only take this as an intro into the world of the Material Editor.

External prepping

Before you go into s&box I recommend to go do some things first.

Set up your files for the materials to go in:


(I also recommend making an extra folder in there for the base texture files like the .jpegs, .pngs, and so on, that way you can get rid of them easier later on, less hassle when you go to release the content, you need the base files to be there to compile the materials, but can remove them and keep only the compiled game materials instead)


Make sure that none of the files have spaces in them, keep them simple, if you do really want spacing use a dash instead so like my-addon instead of my addon. spaces break stuff, don't use them.

Now for you texture names, you don't have to do this, but I highly recommend it, since each input for color texture, normals and so on, will only auto show files with certain names, otherwise you gotta go to all and find your one out of them all.

Here is the naming you gotta go for if you want it to auto show up.

Texture type name
base color / diffuse / albedo name_color
normal map name_normal
roughness map name_rough
metallic map name_metal
ambient occlusion map name_ao
transparency / translucency map name_trans
freedom of motion map name_freedom

Doing this will save you so much time and also make everything so much more organized.

Please, update this naming conventions you know of
Make sure your base image texture files are to the power of 2, meaning its width and height in pixels are one of these sizes: 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048 4096 (I recommend never to go higher than 4096, try keep most textures within the 256 - 1024 range ideally), you have to do this or your textures will not work.

Setting up

You can now locate the sbox-dev exe within the sbox folder, loading it up will display two things, a game window and the asset browser.

Great, now in the asset browser locate the tool bar and open the Material Editor, the 2nd option material editor

Once you have the material editor press ctrl + N to make the new material, and then ctrl + S and save the material in your materials folder under an appropriate name.

saving example

What shader should you use?

Now comes the part where you gotta figure out how you want your material to be.

Shaders are what control that, from simple shader to sky shader, they all have their certain uses, gotta figure out what your use is.

Here is the shader option, click it to go through and find what you want, for now I will only talk about the base shaders.

shader options

I will go through the basic ones for people to use, keep in mind there are more specialized ones, so look through them, but here are the main ones for now I recommend.

Shader Use
Simple This is your go to shader, if its for a simple job like a basic material with only a couple of texture maps, then this shader will do the job for you
Complex this is similar to simple although gives more options for what you can adjust and do, like more texture input types and so on, so if simple does not have the option you need complex most likely will
Blend this is for when you want to make a material to be used in a map, it can blend between 2 materials in one go, e.g. for a dirt and road, it will smoothly blend between without custom textures or modelling trickery needed
Sky This is for skyboxes, it accepts only parallax style skybox textures, accepts 2x1 style textures e.g. w-1024 x h-512
Tarp similar to the simple, although it allows the material and model to have a slight waviness to it like its flowing in the wind, good for tarps, plants and so on, things that got to subtly sway in the wind
Simple Water This is just water
Projected Decals here is where you would make your decals, unlike others trans map does not make its translucent on the material, stays white, but it is translucent in-game don't worry
if you feel there is something missing from the list feel free to add it as long as you think its going to be useful for beginners

How to add textures + extra options

Lets say for now you only need the simple shader, lets have a look at it. It has your main texture inputs, color, normal, rough. to apply them you can do it 3 ways.

  1. Search it in your asset browser and find the base texture and click and drag it to the file path option of the texture input like so. input example
  2. you can click the magnifying glass next to the folder path field and search it in the asset browser.
  3. click the folder icon next to the magnifying glass and search for it in the basic windows file browser. search example

Now you can do this for all the texture types you have. Lets say you have Ambient Occlusion or Metalness textures, you can enable them on the left below where you chose your shader shader options Always check this area in your shaders, since you might find an option you needed within there that you thought you didn't have.

Now remember you can look through the other shader types above if you couldn't find the option you needed, and remember to also check through the shader options. Now you can save one last time with ctrl + S and your material should be all working and set up with your textures and right shader if you added all your textures right and added the options you need.

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