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Dealing with multiple of the same materials due to multiple XREFs

Guest ryanshaq

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Guest ryanshaq

I'm trying to figure out the best way to manage materials in large projects/scenes that utilize multiple XREFs; which ultimately creates many of the same materials. One of my biggest concerns is not slowing down my system because of several duplicate materials trying to load the same texture files. I've created a handful of metal and colored materials I expect to use throughout a project and saved them to a content browser preset library. Some of the materials use textures within the channels.

For example, I have 5 different models, each created in their own scene file. I've also used 3 materials from the preset library I created that would be used throughout each of the XREF scene files. For this example, lets say theres a red metal, a green metal, and a blue metal material with each material having one texture in the bump channel. When I import those 5 different models into a master scene file; all of the materials are brought in creating a total of 15 materials. 5 of the same red metals, 5 of the same green metals, and 5 of the same blue metals. Also, in the texture manager, you can see 15 instances of the same texture from the bump channel being loaded. In more complex scenes with more materials, this quickly fills up the material manager...  


Some of my questions are:

- Does having all of those materials, even duplicates, require X amount more of CPU/RAM? Or does loading one instance of a material/texture, load it for all of the instances of that material in that scene?

- I recently discovered you can create XREF files of just materials. Is it ideal to leave XREF files without materials and then apply the materials from the material XREF file to each object in the master scene file? This seems like it would be tedious and create a lot of extra work if you needed to use XREF files in multiple master scene files.

- Is it best to rely on organizing the materials through the layer manager? This is how I'm currently doing it but I'm not sure if there is a better way.

-Would it be better use the material manager functions to remove duplicates or manually delete duplicates, and then apply only one instance of each to all of the objects? For example, delete each material that is linked through XREF objects 2-5, and then reapply the materials that are linked from XREF object 1? I've tried this and if XREF object 1 is unloaded, then all of the materials that would be on XREF objects 2-5 would also be automatically removed.


Any advice or tips on how you manage large scale projects would be appreciated. I'm currently working solo on a long term project, where I've continued to develop assets along the way. I'm using XREFs in an effort to avoid version control issues for when I need to go back to a model I may have worked on months ago to tweak a few things and avoid manually updating each scene file that had happened to use that XREF.

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  • 1 year later...

I am facing this exact same challenge...multiple instances of materials, and all I'm doing is working with a single Xref for materials only. Don't know why multiple copies are showing up in the material manager. Two years after the OP though, and nothing back from anyone with respect to actual questions. 

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If you prefer to replace the duplicate mats with one, just put the mat on a null which will keep the material live if the xref is unloaded. But why not just eliminate all the extra work by doing the mats last from a master?

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