How-to Create Inventor Colors

Inventor Colors Creation Basics

In this very basic How-to, we will be creating several new Inventor colors and a new Inventor material based on stock items found in Inventor’s extensive material library. There is far more that can be done via the Styles Editor, but we will just stick to doing what is necessary to make wood look realistic in Inventor. The only problem I foresee is that some of you may not have the correct permissions to proceed, but here we go regardless…

I will be using the Shaker Table from the Designing a Shaker Table with Autodesk Inventor tutorial as an example. That tutorial series has been updated and moved to the Cabinet Web Portal, so you will need to supply your own base model……..or better yet, subscribe to the Cabinet Web Portal!

As I stated before, you need to check your permissions to make sure you have Read-Write capabilities. If not, you would be able to create the material and color, but they would be stored in the document that is open when they are created, and you will not be able to apply them to future parts. To get started, with nothing open in Inventor, click on the Projects icon on the Launch panel of the Get Started tab to bring up the Projects editor…

Inventor Colors Tutorial - Change Autodesk Inventor's permissions to read write
…unless you created a new project for the tutorial, you may be in the Default project or one that an administrator created. It doesn’t matter.  If you right click on the “Use Style Library” text in the lower portion of the Projects editor, you will only get the option to change to Read-Write if you have permission to do so. If you do, all is well, and you click Read-Write.

With that done, open the Shaker Table you created during the tutorial or whatever model you will be using in its stead, then switch to the Manage Tab. Now select the Styles Editor tool on the Styles and Standards panel to bring up the Style and Standard Editor. On the list  to the left, expand the Color category, and select Wood (Pine).

Inventor Colors Tutorial - Autodesk Inventor's Style and Standards Editor

Inventor Colors Tutorial - Naming a color in Inventor

 

With Wood (Pine) highlighted, click the “New” button near the top of the editor. This will bring up a little text box where you can name the new color. Call it “Wood – Southern Yellow Pine”…

 

 

Click OK to accept the name, then click Done in the lower right corner of the Style and Standard Editor to finish up. If we wanted to use our own image and create a completely new color as opposed to one based on and existing one, we would need to create an image that will tile without looking horrible—which is way beyond the scope of this post.

Autodesk Inventor, and I’m sure every other parametric modeling program out there, displays any material with a long fiber incorrectly. If we used the out-of-the-box wood colors, the grain would be going in the wrong direction in a bunch of places, and would actually make the model look wrong as woods (and many other materials) strength is dependent on grain orientation. So, for this project, we need to make another color (I sometimes need to make six or seven depending on the project —sucks).

To make this rotated color just click on the Styles Editor button again to bring up the Style and Standard Editor. Make sure “Wood – Southern Yellow Pine” is the active color (active color is in bold text) –if not, make it so. Click on new again, and this time type in “Wood – Southern Yellow Pine (90)”. All you are adding is the 90 in parenthesis. Click OK to add the new color to the list. Now switch tabs from Basic to Texture, and change the “Rotation” by 90°. It should start at 90°, so move the slider to 0.000

Inventor Colors Tutorial - Rotating a texture map in Autodesk Inventor…click Save (up near the top) then Done to complete.

Now that we have a color, we’ll make a Wood – Southern Yellow Pine material to add it to. Click the Styles Editor button again, and collapse the Color list (on the left) we have been working in. Expand the Material list. Default (weight of water, default color, and the rest zeroed out) should be in bold, which means it is the material of our model.  Click New, and name the material “Wood – Southern Yellow Pine”. Set the Default Units to English (ft, lbmass, psf) in the upper right area and change the Density to 40.000 lbmass/ft^3. Now towards the bottom, click on the drop-down list button for “Color Style” (not the one with the pencil image) and change it from default to “Wood – Southern Yellow Pine”…

Inventor Colors Tutorial - Inventor's Material EditorHit the Save button near the top, then the Done button in the lower right corner. All three of the properties you just created are now being stored within your part. If you wish to use these iProperties elsewhere (and have permission to do so), you need to use the Save tool that is right next to the Styles Editor tool on the Styles and Standards panel. The dialog that pops up will list the three items you just made, and all will default to not save to the library. Click the “Yes to All” button near the bottom then OK. A nag screen will pop up telling you this action cannot be reversed (it can with an XML editor and a bit of nerve) –disregard all that & commit to saving. If that’s what you want to do.

Now go to the Browser Bar and right click on the name of the part (I renamed it Designing a Shaker Table with Autodesk Inventor.ipt –you can call it whatever you wish) from the context menu, choose iProperties. Go to the Physical tab, and change the Material from Default to Wood – Southern Yellow Pine. Check your Mass (middleish). It should weigh 31.39 pounds (if you haven’t changed any of the sizes)…

Inventor Colors Tutorial - Autodesk Inventor's iProperty dialogClick the Apply then Close buttons and Blazam! You got color! (and weight –center of gravity, etc.)…

Inventor Colors Tutorial - Applying materials with Autodesk Inventor…”but it looks like crap” you say? Well of course it does. That’s why we made the rotated version of the color, but unfortunately I have to end this segment here. Stop back for the next installment where we will finish up the colorization so we can move on to the fun stuff –the iLogic automation.

Later…