Home > Development > HLSL/XNA FX Shader Editing with Lumonix ShaderFX

HLSL/XNA FX Shader Editing with Lumonix ShaderFX

NVIDIA’s FX Composer whilst useful in certain cases is perhaps a rather daunting tool to use, especially for 3D noobs such as myself.  Sometimes I just want to make a shader for the typical things like diffuse, normal and environmental maps, or even just basic phong style materials.  Say I just modelled a tank and I want to put a camouflage texture on it, maybe some specular reflections on the glass window, and perhaps some different effects on the gun and tracks. Then say when I get more experienced I want to do spiffy vertex shaders for things like water effects.  I’m sure I can do all this in FXC but I be damned if I know how.  Did I mention I wanted to use my shader in XNA?  Well there’s a problem straight away. Many of the effects I downloaded via FXC produce annoying compile effects in Visual Studio 2008.  What is a 3D apprentice to do?

Well some brilliant chaps at LumonixBen Cloward and Kees Rijnen (Ben is the author of some great tutorials on his own site which saved my sanity) have made a 3ds Max plug-in that allows you to produce shaders (including DirectX and XNA) visually without programming. The editor appears inside Max so no more dodgy external tools and mucking about exporting and importing.  In a matter of minutes you can knock up some top-notch shaders and view them directly in 3ds Max.  The best part is that you can then export them to your favourite shader format including XNA!  There’s also support for FX Composer, DXSAS, Cgxx and many more.  And don’t think this program is only for basic effects because it’s not, there are some amazing things you can do with this gem.  Check out their site.

ShaderFX UI (my humble first shader):

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An advanced shader from the ShaderFX site:

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Shader export:

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ShaderFX is “Free for individuals and companies smaller then 2 employees”.  You can’t beat that!

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