Check out UE4 Environment Prop Master Materials developed by Lincoln Hughes that will save you time in the material editor.
- Blended Tessellation (Displacement) between multiple material layers
- Top Layer (Snow) World-Aligned blend – procedurally mixes a top layer onto your material based off of a wind direction
- Parameter Collections – globally change the amount of top-layer blending (snow) across your entire world with a single slider
- Optional Detail Map Channels – blend albedo, roughness, normal, and ao channels with your base textures
- Optional World-Space (tri-planar) mapping on each layer (base, mid, top)
- Optional UV Channel choice for each layer
- All features are optional so that each shader instance will optimize itself based off of the features enabled
- Comes with a 35-minute tutorial explaining how to use the shaders
- The material pack comes with an example map and some free assets from Epic’s Kite demo, all for testing purposes
- There are 3 versions of the material pack, and the price adapts to your needs: Non-Commercial, Commercial (Small Business – Under 100k in Revenue), and Commercial (Studio – Over 100k in Revenue)
Why a Master Material Pack?
After looking online to see what was out there for materials in UE4, I came to the conclusion that there just isn’t really that much. You can buy textures, you can buy material functions that help you make your own materials, you can buy packs of assets that have their own master materials (with next to no explanation as to how to properly use them), but you can’t just buy a Master Shader that has all of the functions you want to be built into it, all in a tight little bundle that’s easy to use, and quick to set-up.
Using the material editor in UE4 can be really complicated. Especially for those that are just getting started with the program, or those without a background in tech-art, or programming. I’d imagine that trying to decipher some of those spaghetti noodles can seem as daunting as translating ancient hieroglyphics!
The whole purpose of the Master Material pack was to remove that element of complication; to empower the average user with the same shader functions as any AAA game-studio.
What exactly is a “Master Material”?
In short, a Master Material is the ultimate parent material for your scene, the one that every child material instance in your world references and uses to determine what functionality it will have.
For example, let’s say you have a new rock mesh that you’re making material for. Typically, you’d just create a new material and plug in your textures in UE4. Done, right? Now let’s say you have to make 5 rocks, a house, and some barrels, and each one needs snow to procedurally spawn on top of it. You could manually make 50 unique materials that all procedurally blend snow, or you could make a Master Material and use it to create “Material Instances” (Children of the Master Material) for each material in your scene. If you were to add the function of “procedural snow” into the Master Material, you’d also be adding it as an option into every child Material Instance in your world that references that Master Shader!
It’s the most time-saving, optimized way of creating materials, and if any issues happen to crop up in your materials (they’re too expensive, they have broken functionality, or they need global tweaks), all you have to do to fix them across every mesh in your world, is fix them once in that one Master Material.
Lincoln Hughes, 3D Artist