Last week I told you about Pluralsight making all their content free to everyone. I took advantage of that and decided to take a look at an Unreal Engine 4 course: Unreal Engine 4 Materials Fundamentals.
The course is four hours long, and, if you are quick, you can get through it in one single day. Having previous knowledge of PBR is also good, but not really needed since the tutor explains everything, from the essential concepts and basic material functionality, to more advanced topics like material instances (materials that are simplified versions to other, more complex materials, but share the same functionality) and controlling materials using Blueprints (there’s no part about controlling materials using C++).
What you do need to know, is how to navigate Unreal Engine 4, though. The author will not spend time explaining what the different panes are (if you need that, there are also introductory courses on Pluralsight).
The tutor also explains a little bit of external tools, and how you can use them to create tileable textures and normal maps. The course does not go deep in every tool out there, since that would take a lot of time, though.
You will also learn to make more advanced things like animated materials. For example, those materials that simulate a conveyor belt, or a rotating tire, using material expressions and functions. Overall, the course has a lot of good information for you, and it will be useful if you are just starting in game development, or if you are moving from one engine to UE4.
This is not an in-depth course that will teach you how to use every single node and every single function, though. If you have used UE4’s material editor in the past, you know there are a lot of nodes that you can create. This course won’t explain all of them. However, the author will show you where you can read more about materials, functions, and those things. I don’t see that as a problem, though, since there’s a reason why this course is called “Materials Fundamentals” and not something like “Advanced Materials.”
As someone who was coming from Unity, and had already used UDK before Unity, half of this course was about remembering how to do stuff in Unreal Engine (while the material editor in UE4 might be slightly different, many of the concepts and node names remain the same), and the other half was about figuring out how to do in UE4 things that I’ve been doing in Unity for years (especially since I was a long time user of the now-defunct ShaderForge, and now a big user of Amplify Shader Editor). However, if you are just starting, or have zero knowledge of 3D games development, you will find this course to be a great starting point.
Unreal Engine 4 Materials Fundamentals: https://app.pluralsight.com/courses/7659a2d8-7a6c-4918-a38d-313dd21464c6/table-of-contents