Reinforced concrete members are extremely complex under loading because of localised deformations in the concrete (cracks, sliding planes) and between the reinforcement and concrete (slip). An ideal model for simulating behaviour of reinforced concrete members should incorporate both global behaviour and the localised behaviours that are seen and measured in practice; these localised behaviours directly affect the global behaviour. Most commonly used models do not directly simulate these localised behaviours that can be seen or measured in real members; instead, they overcome these limitations by using empirically or semi-empirically derived strain-based pseudo properties such as the use of effective flexural rigidities for deflection; plastic hinge lengths for strength and ductility; and energy-based approaches for both concrete softening in compression and concrete softening after tensile cracking to allow for tension stiffening. Most reinforced concrete member experimental testing is associated with deriving these pseudo properties for use in design and analysis, and this component of development is thus costly. The aim of the present research is to reduce this cost substantially. In this paper, localised material behaviours and the mechanisms they induce are described. Their incorporation into reinforced concrete member behaviour without the need for empirically derived pseudo properties is described in a companion paper.