After Effects Material Controls are Often Overlooked

In the rush to design, many motion graphic artists skip the advanced controls inside the Material Options category. These are essential as the refine how a 3D light interacts with your 3D layer. The properties that affect appearance the most are Diffuse, Specular, Shininess, and Metal.

The only changes made to the scene above were modifications to the Material Options. No other settings with lights were modified. The Material Options are powerful controls that are often overlooked. When you're first exploring Material Options, try lowering or raising their values one property at a time.

  1. To start, drop all of the values to 0% to remove the effect of the lights.
  2. Next slowly increase the Specular value. This will add a hotspot to your layer (it may get quite blown out). This value controls how reflective the layer is. The bigger the number the brighter the reflection.
  3. Raise the Shininess property which will cause the light to show specular highlights. The bigger the number the smaller the highlight.
  4. Use the Diffuse property to soften the results generated by the Specular and Shininess properties. This will soften the transition between lights and darks.
  5. Raising metal property will lower the color distinction between the darker areas and the highlight, but the highlight will still be brighter. It also affects how much the layer's color influences the color of the reflection.

From the new Adobe Press book – Motion Graphics with Adobe Creative Suite 5 Studio Techniques