Hi Mike Welcome!Hi,
Is it possible to find an explanation of the settings for shine etc for materials? I know I may sound like a doofus but, it is something that will will materially effect the ability to render effectively. It may also make those totally new to rendering feel less of a doofus, like I do. Thanks.
Of course, I hope I understand your question correctly,
In Twilight you will not have to create any material from scratch. Apply any material you like from your normal SketchUp material palette. Then, click the material tool, and click on the material you want to be "shiny" and apply a material template to that material by choosing it from the pull-down menu.
Shiny means that it's either "smooth" or "rough". Surfaces that are very "smooth, or polished" are considered to be "shiny". (This would be like a Mirror, for instance.)
For some, they understand paint well as an example. So if you paint a room, you have to pick the shine of the paint... is it "Flat" or "no shine" or is it "glossy" or "shiny". Or is it "Satin" or "somewhat shiny". This is one of the sets of templates available in Twilight.
So for most objects, you will probably pick one of the plastics templates to start, with a level of shininess you want. If it's still not shiny enough you can increase or decrease as you like... something very flat and low shininess would be around 5-7, something of perfect shininess is 50,000... but 1000 will probably be indistinguishable from 50000 in most cases.
Materials are demonstrated most easily and quickly in the Getting Started Video Tutorials #1, and in the Intermediate Video Tutorial #1.
This is also covered in more depth in the User Manual in Section 5 - "The Material Tool" on page 25.
"Color", the main category of the material in most cases is the "color" of your material when viewed in purely flat indirect light. That is, imagine what color your material is on a very cloudy day. In fact, to create your own hi-res textures, you want to take pictures of your textures with the most flat lighting possible, such as a very cloudy day... but obviously not raining
For an in-depth explanation about Bump Maps see the reference section in the User Manual. For an in depth explanation on Shininess Maps see also the reference section of the User Manual.
The Manual's Reference Section at the end of the manual has a good section on Edge Lines too, it explains how to get your SketchUp edge lines to render with Twilight, and a suggested "thickness" to start with when using that feature. Edge Lines will unfortunately not render with the Automatic Clay Render settings.
Alpha means the transparency or "see-thru-ness" of the material. This is directly linked to the alpha slider in the SketchUp Material Editor panel. So if you change it in the Twilight Material Editor panel, you will see it changed inside of SketchUp as well. "0" (zero) = completely transparent, "100" means completely opaque. It does not control the reflectivity of the object, only whether you can see thru it or not.
IOR or "Index of Refraction" may be the most obscure of the most commonly used settings. This is the angle at which light is "bent" when passing through a material. For Glass this is a scientifically known number of 1.52. For water it is 1.33. So when swimming under water things we see appear to be about 1.3 times the size they are when we lift them out of the water... at least, that may be an easy way to think of it. IOR effects the "reflection" of light off a surface as well, not just the passage of light through a surface.
For most surfaces, this is a scientifically known number, and also is automatically given whenever you apply a template. So, in most cases, will not need to be changed manually.If you know the number of IOR for the material you are trying to create, it should be entered correctly. If not known, it's best to choose the template closest to the type of material you are trying to create.
Here is a Refractive Index website. Use it to find the IOR for any material you are trying to create. (assuming they are not already preloaded for you in the Twilight Templates )
Hard Edge Angle - is the angle between the normals of two adjacent faces. A "normal" is an imaginary line drawn perpendicularly out from the middle of the "front" of a face. It's how it is decided which edge between two faces should appear smooth, and which should appear as a crease, or sharp. This only comes into play when "weld vertices" is chosen. This is important also with the rendering of Edge Lines, because materials on curving surfaces will need to be welded, and the hard edge angle chosen. "30" is a good angle to choose to start as the smooth angle in most cases with SketchUp curves.
If you've seen all of those resources and still have questions, we are here to help