Materials are stored in dgnlibs, or your active dgn. To use a material from a library is almost as easy as using any other dgnlib style.

Using predefined materials

From the Visualisation Workflow > Home tab, click the Material Editor dialog box launcher to show the Material Editor.

In the Material Editor, choose Palette > Open, and pick any pre-defined palettes you require.

Hint: You can select multiple palettes using the Ctrl key.

The material palette is loaded, and you can begin to edit or assign materials to your model.

As soon as you edit or assign a material, a local copy is created. A green tick or a blue triangle will highlight whether the material matches or is different from the library copy.

Should you need to return the material to be the same as the original library definition, right-click on the material, pick Local Material > Update from Library.

A green tick will confirm the material now matches.

To overwrite the library copy with your edited material, right-click, and pick Local Material > Copy to Library. This will permanently overwrite the library material, so be careful. It is a very good idea to lock the as-supplied Bentley materials (found in C:\Program Files\Bentley\...\Default\Materials\) so that you cannot accidentally damage them.

You can remove the local copy and any assignments by right-clicking and selecting Local Materials > Remove Local Copy. Any elements that were using this material will no longer render correctly.

Organising materials using a DGNLIB

There will be times when you want to use custom materials in your own dgnlibs. In these instances, you should organise your materials into your own palettes.

Firstly, check to make sure your dgnlib folder is included in the MS_MATERIAL search path. If it isn’t, you will need to add the search path.

Open your dgnlib.

Create a new palette from the Palette > New menu.

Rename it so that it can be identified later:


  1. Open a pre-defined palette. Refer to Using a Pre-defined Palette, step 2, above.
  2. Right-click on the required material and select Copy.
  3. Right-click on your new palette and select Paste.

It is not possible to load two materials of the same name, so you will either need to rename your material, or Unload the pre-defined palette (right-click on the palette name and pick Unload).


  1. Pick Material > Import. Exactly as when opening, select the palette(s) containing the materials you want to import.

Import will be greyed out if you do not have a palette selected.

If you have more than one palette, highlight the palette you are importing your materials into first.

Note: You can rename the materials during import by editing the names in the “Import As” field.

The materials will be imported. Make any adjustments that you require.

They are now ready to be used in project dgn files.

From this point on, the process is no different to using pre-defined materials, only you select your project dgnlib from the palettes list:


Material assignments are not honoured across dgnlibs. If you wish to assign materials you are better off using the Level Manager and setting the “Material” attribute instead.

If you have a series of pre-defined .mat files, used in earlier versions of MicroStation, or wish to create assignments based on level and colour, you’ll need to use Manage Material Tables. Working in this way does have advantages over the Level Manager method, although we would recommend assigning materials based on your level standards. Using material tables allows you to load and switch between alternative materials very quickly without editing elements.

Set up your material assignments in you active dgn or dgnlib as normal.

Export the assignments to External Tables And Palettes.

You will be prompted for the location of your material table. We would recommend you store this in your Workspace or your project for easy recall later.

Once the material table has been saved, you will be prompted to save the palettes. Cancel the conversion at this point - the palettes are not needed.

Go back to the Table > Manage menu to open Manage Material Tables dialog. From here you can import external material tables.

Once you have selected and imported your material table, you will need to active the table in order for the assignments to show in the Material Editor.

To activate a material table, either double-click it or highlight it and click on Activate Selected Table.

The active table will show in cyan.


There are no reviews yet.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *