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The Edit Materials tool brings up the Materials Lab by default when it is clicked on and no objects are selected.
Clicking on the triangle next to the tool brings up a popup menu allowing you to select whether to edit 2D Pict or 3D Solid Textures.
You do not have to have an object selected before using the Edit Materials tool. This is useful if you want to add 2D picts to the Picture Editor or just want to make new materials in the Materials Lab. If you do have an object selected before clicking on the tool, then the selected material or 2D pict editor will be opened.
To use the Edit Materials tool: