S&box Wiki

Guide to Materials

A beginners guide to materials

This contains all of the basic information about materials. This guide assumes you've already created a material or imported a material.

Texture naming conventions

The following texture naming conventions are typically used - they're not required, but highly recommended, since they allow the game to recognise your textures automatically when making materials.

Texture type name
base color / diffuse / albedo name_color
texture mask¹ name_mask
normal map name_normal
roughness / glossiness map² name_rough
metallic map³ name_metal
ambient occlusion map³ name_ao
blend mask⁴ name_blend
height map⁵ name_height
transparency / translucency / opacity map name_trans
self illumination / emissive map name_selfillum
freedom of motion map name_freedom

¹ Used as a Tint Mask for coloring in Hammer mostly.
² The glossiness map is the inverse of the roughness map, so the image needs to be inverted before using it.
³ Make sure to enable the respective texture in the left PBR menu.
⁴ pretty much a texture mask to help make the blend between two textures nicer.
⁵ Can be used in the Complex shader when the Parallax Occlusion Render option is ticked.

Make sure your base image texture files are to the power of 2, meaning it's width and height in pixels are one of these sizes: 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048, 4096. you have to do this or your textures will not work.

It is recommended to never go higher than 4096 for performance reasons, try keep most textures within the 256 - 2048 range, 2048 pixels for every 128 hammer units tends to look and perform best

What shader should you use?

You can click the button in the top left corner of the material editor to change shaders.


The following shaders are included by default - for most purposes you'll either want Complex or Simple.

Shader Use/Description
Blendable This is for when you want to make a material to be used in a map, it can blend between 4 materials aka layers in one go, e.g. for a dirt and road, it will smoothly blend between without custom textures or modelling trickery needed
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
Eyeball Generic eyeball shader for your characters
Glass Standard glass shader that will do the job in most cases.
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
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
Skin Shader for skin/flesh materials.
Sky This is for skyboxes, it accepts parallax style skybox textures in either 4x3 cube or 2x1 equirectangular format e.g. 1024x512
Static Overlay Shader for rendering static overlays placed in Hammer.
Water Fancy Water for s&box
TODO: This list is incomplete

Adding Textures

Lets say for now you only need the simple shader, lets have a look at it.

There are three ways to add textures:

  1. Drag your texture from any Asset Browser Instance:
  1. Click the Magnifying Glass next to the folder path field and open a Asset Browser popup window.

  2. Click the folder icon next to the magnifying glass and open your File Explorer.


In some cases, you will need to enable shader features on the left in order to use specific textures - for example, Ambient Occlusion or Metalness textures.


Saving and compiling

ctrl + s will save your material to disk. If things aren't looking right, click File, Force Compile to Disk in order to force the material to re-compile.