Creating a realistic Swimming Pool in 3ds Max & V-Ray

When you get into working in the CG visualization field you are no doubt going to come to the point where you will have to deal with a scene where you have a swimming pool. Dealing with a scene like this can be a bit of a drag, especially if you have never worked on anything like that before. What i mean by this is the fact that water, even though it is quite a simple and we are accustomed to seeing it in our daily routine, it has a few properties that you need to understand if you want to replicate it in your scenes.

In the video below you will see me start from a very simple scene with nothing but the swimming pool to take our focus away. You will see the main attributes that water has when you are using it for your renders, then you will understand why the color of the pools is important, as well as learn how to make the tiled look that many swimming pools have. Then we are going to see how we can get our water to look wavy by using normal maps, bump maps and actual geometry. So if you would be interested in learning anything from what you just read here, then go ahead and check out the video.

If you are back reading this i hope you guys picked up some new tricks and tips, and more importantly it was fun watching it for you as much as it was fun making it for me.
If you liked what you saw here, then you can help spread the word by liking on YouTube and Facebook (This actually helps a lot and i would appreciate it), share and comment so it can reach more people, and hopefully help someone else the same way it helped you.

Modeling a Family Crest in 3ds Max

Another week another post. This week i initially had a different thing in mind to make a tutorial about, but i decided instead of making a simplified tutorial about carved models, i go ahead and actually take an existing model and try to get it made in 3D. So by following the videos you will hopefully learn how to do it yourself and pickup a few tricks along the way.

So the first thing that you want to do when you want to start modeling something like this is, either get some kick ass reference images from your client (if this is a paid project), or you can try and search for some artisan carpenters online for inspiration. In my case the inspiration for making this video came from one of the works that Patrick Damiaens posted on his Facebook page. I have had mr.Damiaens Facebook profile on follow for the better part of the last few years, and all i can say is that man’s work with wood carving is simply amazing. Another place that you can see more about him is on his website by clicking the link. So you can either feel free and look at his work, or you can even go ahead and look up some other artisan carpenters for your source of inspiration.

OK since we got the kudos to the artisans out of the way, back to our model at hand. When i started out i didn’t think it would take 5 part video to cover the creation of the crest, but once i started recording it kinda went down that road. I could have gone ahead and actually make this into 2-3 different posts, but since i know how much i hate waiting a week or maybe even two for a continuation of a video that i am watching i decided to make it all into one post. So lets get down to explaining more about the videos and what you will see in which part.

In the first video i went ahead and started with the modeling process of the shield of the crest, which is more or less the dominant element in the model. After modeling the shield i then proceed to model out the book model that we can see in the middle of the shield. So if you want to know how to do it, or even if you have an idea and want to know how i did it go ahead and watch the first video, and then come back for the rest.

In the second video i go over how to model the flower decoration on the left side, as well as modeling the right side decoration (The Fleur De Lis) which is a classic French decoration. So again if you want to know how i approached modeling this piece then watch the second part.

The third video is all about modeling the Wheat carving in the middle. Now like i said in the video, if i were doing this for a paying customer that required a level of detail that would make it picture perfect to the reference image i would probably go over and sculpt this in ZBrush, but if you aren’t limited by something like this then the approach i did can really work well. Oh and you will also see me show you a trick on how to cheat with getting a more volume to your model without having the geometry. In any case if this is what you want to see then give this video a chance.

The fourth video is all about modeling the scroll element of the model. In this video you will see my approach on modeling something like this which i might add is different from all the other people i’ve seen doing it. I use splines to define the shapes, a surface modifier to give me the working space and shell to define the thickness. In any case if you are interested in how to make something like this i would recommend you watch this part.

And last but not least in the fifth video we go over the fine tweaking of the elements where we make sure that everything that we made is working together, as well as using FFD modifiers to get some of the shapes that we need from the elements. Then after all that is done we go ahead and apply some UVW mapping and texture, light and render the entire scene. So if you want to see how that went then go ahead and watch this final video.

Ok so if you are still here reading this then it either means that everything that you saw before this wasn’t interesting for you to watch (which will make me sad) or it means that you watched it all and came back for more (which will make me happy) but i have to say That’s all Folks, at least for this model. In any case, kidding aside i really hope you guys liked what you saw here, and that you had fun watching these videos as much as i had when i was making them for you. In case you weren’t able to find the reference image i used for this piece from Patrick’s page i’m leaving his image here as well.

Carving

I hope you guys liked these videos and you managed to pick up something new, so if you liked what you saw, you can help spread the word by liking on YouTube (this helps alot) and Facebook(this as well), share and comment so it could reach more people and hopefully help someone else the same way it helped you out.

Interior Night lighting with V-Ray

Today we are going to take a look at how to light up a rather peculiar example of a moon lit night scene. Now this might sound like a silly thing to say as generally a night is defined by being dark, and usually when you hear someone say a CG rendering of a night scene the first thing that comes into mind is a well lit scene with lamps and lights. Well this is different in a way that we are trying to capture the ambient you would get if you were in a room without lights, and the only thing that is giving off some light is the moon light coming through the window.

In those rare cases where a scene like this might be asked of you to do, if you haven’t done it the first thing that you would try to do is use a HDRI image to get the lighting. That might work in some rare cases, but it will require you to have a perfect HDRI image with enough light information to radiate in the needed light, and at the same time exclude lights that you would generally get from buildings and cars. So if you have a HDRI like that then you can feel free and use it, but if you don’t then you might have to go and do a bit of improvisation.

In the video we will see how to start by matching the environmental light, but instead of using a flat color we will see how to use a gradient for the environment, and then we will see how we can control the amount of light coming into the scene with v-ray lights. After that we will proceed and add in the moon light and with that try and complete our scene. So in short that would be it, so go ahead and watch the video and see for yourself how it was done.

So i hope you liked this video and you managed to learn something new, and like always if you liked what you saw you can help spread the word by liking on YouTube and Facebook, share and comment so it could reach more people and hopefully help someone else the same way it helped you out.

Creating Complex Wall Shaders in 3DS Max & V-Ray

When working on a interior scene one of the most obvious, yet most skipped thing when it comes to shading is the walls of the room. What i mean by this is simply that people usually go and choose a color for the wall and call it finished. This is not wrong on a first look, but if you turn around and look at your walls (provided they are not wallpapers) you will notice that no matter how new or well done your wall is there will be some texture to the wall be it from the concrete, or maybe even from the brush that the wall was painted with. Now this information is very subtle and since we have been watching it all of our life we don’t give it too much importance, but the thing is that when you see a render without it your brain starts noticing it and your scene starts looking a bit fake. So as the old saying goes “The Devil is in the details” so every little bit of information that you can put into your scene that will make it more realistic is something that you should find a way to incorporate it into your scene.

You can either use what you see in this video on any of your scenes, or you can use the scene that i am using by grabbing the file from the post Realistic Interior Lighting.

In the following video i will show you how you can take your scenes and start adding in details that will make it more realistic. We are going to start with a simple bump map to give it some basic details, then we are going to mix it up a bit by using a VrayBlend material and take two materials with different surface and see how they are going to look. After that we will add a third layer that will have diffuse texture as well as bump to it, but instead of using it only for blending the bump we are going to make a mask in Photoshop and then use it to make our walls look old and riddled with damage and wear. So if this is something that might interest you on how it’s done, then check out the video.

So i hope you liked this video and you managed to learn something new, and like always when i finish a post i tell you that if you liked what you saw you can help spread the word by liking on YouTube and Facebook, share and comment so it could reach more people and hopefully help someone else the same way it helped you out.

V-Ray Materials

Starting up with a new render engine can be a daunting task, especially if you worked with a different render engine for a while, Mental Ray or standard materials as an example. The main issue usually starts up when you don’t know how to make heads or tails of the settings and the materials of the new render. Well in the Starting With V-Ray series we went into depth on explaining the main settings for V-Ray and now in this post we will try to explain how the textures work in V-Ray. So brace yourselves as i think this is going to be a longer post, so lets just jump in right in the deep.

I went ahead and made this into a video as well trying to explain the things that i went over in this post. I would highly recommend that if you want to understand how the materials in V-Ray work that you take some time and go over this post (WALL OF TEXT WITH PRETTY PICTURES) and hopefully clear up any things that aren’t completely clear.

V-Ray Material Editor
When you change your render from the default scanline render to V-Ray the one of the things that you will notice is that now your materials have been converted into V-Ray Materials (In order for this to be the default, you need to change it into the Customize – Custom UI and Defaults Switcher). The first thing that you are going to notice if you did it is that the material balls will be colored as you can see on the image here. This is a feature that V-Ray has implemented to make it easier to differentiate the materials, but if you ask me i would rather they kept it at the neutral gray, but then again it’s my personal preference.
The main thing about V-Ray materials is that even though it looks and feels like it’s complicated to deal with it, in reality V-Ray materials are basically created by tweaking three different parameters, Diffuse (main color), Reflection (self explanatory) and Refraction (the ability to let light pass through it)
Lets start from the beginning, namely how do we change the diffuse color of our material. That is quite simple and all you have to do is click on the color tab next to the diffuse (labeled 1).
Once you press the color tab you will get a color pallet looking like the one on the image shown below here. This color pallet is a fairly useful as it gives you a lot of leniency and flexibility when selecting the color that you need. We can separate it into a couple of different groups that would make it easier to explain it.

V-Ray Material Editor 03
*The first type of selection would be the selection by Hue in which you can select it my clicking anywhere in the selected field (marked with 2).
*The second thing that you can control here is the brightness of the color you have selected (marked with 3)
*The third is the RGB value selection. This here is a very helpful way of selecting as many times you would get a RGB value from a client for a color that he has in mind, and having a field where you can input the different values is of immense help (marked with 4)
*The fourth way is a combined selection method where you visually choose from the Hue, Saturation and Value from the sliders shown with the field (marked 5)
So all this that we saw here so far is if we want to have a solid color for our diffuse, but in case we want to make a material that has an image or some pattern as a base then we have to add a bitmap, or a procedural map in the diffuse slot. The way to do this is you need to click on the little square next to the diffuse color picker and choose either a bitmap or a procedural map.

V-Ray Diffuse
On the image above we have a few different diffuse results. On the first one we have pure black color, that can be seen on the material ball on the left. Then the middle ball has a texture applied to it, and on the last one we have a procedural map where we can see the colors going from Red to White and Blue.
So what we need to understand here is that the Diffuse is the MAIN Color of our material.

The next in line is the reflection slot. As we mentioned earlier the reflection slot plays a big role in the final outcome of the look of our material so knowing how to control it is important. In order to get to the parameters to control the reflection you need to click on the color picker (marked on the image) and you will get the same color pallet as you saw in the diffuse section. Now here is where it starts to get interesting as the reflection is directly controlled by the Whiteness parameter. This means if the chosen color is black or a value of 0 you will have no reflection, while a white color or a value of 255 will mean a 100% reflective surface.

So to sum it up before we move onto examples, the percentage of 0-100% reflection is controlled by 255 segments in the Value color.

V-Ray Reflection

If we take a look at the image below we will see the reflection changes depending on the value we have selected. Going from left to right we can see how a 25% (64 value), 50% (128 value), 75% (192 value) and 100% (255 value) looks like when applied to a white material. (click for a larger size image)

V-Ray Reflection Scale

While we are still at the reflection parameter we need to take a look at the Reflection Glossiness parameter as well. This parameter basically defines how blurry your reflections are going to be. The way to control the glossiness is through the numerical value of 0-1, where 1 is 100% shiny while 0 is 0% shiny. Now before you take this for granted i want to note one more thing, and that is that the majority of the materials you are going to be building will move from 0.5-0.99 range. There shouldn’t be any reason to go below a range of 0.5 as with a 0.5 or 50% shiny reflections you will get some really blurry reflections, and you want to be weary of really blurry reflections as they love to gobble up rendering power and in turn ramp up your render times.

V-Ray Reflection Glosiness

V-Ray Reflection Options
While we are still at the Reflection we need to cover one more important thing, and that is the reflection color. When you are choosing the reflective intensity of your material you basically choose it from the Whiteness level of the color selector that goes in 255 increments of White-Gray-Black. Now in case you don’t stick to the black and white gradient of the whiteness levels and choose to manually select a color in the reflection slot, in that case V-Ray won’t simply make your Reflections stronger or weaker but in turn it will add coloring to the effect.

Now the reason why i mention this is because the way that colored reflections work is a bit tricky due to something called Energy preservation mode. By default this can be seen in the Material editor options roll down menu as shown on the image above, and the default setting is set at RGB. With an RGB Energy Preservation mode active the colored reflections that we choose for our materials will act weird in the sense that if you add red color in the reflection slot, instead of getting red reflections you will get reflections where the red color has been taken out of the reflection of the material.

If you look on the image below you can see exactly how that looks like. On the four examples below you can see a material with (Left to Right) Black, Blue, Green and Red. And no i didn’t mix up the color places. The reason for the Blue color to appear Yellow, and the Blue to look Red and the Red to be Blue is due to the RGB energy preservation mode, because as you know all colors can be achieved with mixing Red, Green and Blue so once you take out one of those primary colors you get unexpected results.

V-Ray Color Reflection

With this in mind it might sound like getting controllable colored reflections would be near impossible with V-Ray, but that is not the case. If you want to get reflections that are colored all you will need to do is switch the Energy preservation mode to Monochrome. In the image below you can see how a material with Monochrome reflections looks like. We have a Red, Green and Blue colors in the reflection slot and they are perfectly shown in the reflections as well.

V-Ray Color Reflection Monochrome

And the last thing that i would like to mention about the Reflection portion of the parameters is the IOR (Index of Reflection). The IOR is basically the angle at which you are seeing reflections. In V-Ray 2.x versions the Fresnel Reflections (IOR) is turned off by default while in 3.x it’s turned on. This IOR value actually has a pretty big impact on how our material is going to look like and the values range from 1 to basically infinite, but anything above 40 is hard to notice any difference. If you take a look at the image below you will see three examples of different reflections with different IOR values. So basically we have a IOR 1 and with that value we have no reflections as the angle is too steep for reflections to show up, then we come to a IOR 2 and we can see reflections forming up nice and realistic and in the last image we have IOR 6 value and a very reflective surface.

So to keep it simpler, with higher value for the IOR you will get more of the environment to reflect into your materials. If you want to get some realistic values for IOR’s then simply Google the phrase “name of the materials you want” IOR value. HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF A SITE WITH ALOT OF IOR VALUES.

V-Ray Reflection IOR

So off to deal with REFRACTION now. Refraction is basically how much light can pass through a certain material, or simply put how transparent a material is really. The way to control the transparency is pretty much like with controlling the reflection with the Whiteness value. On the image here we can see how a material looks like with 0% Refraction, 50% Refraction and 100% Refraction

V-Ray Refraction

Now similar like with the reflection, we can use a color in the refraction slot, or we can even use a bitmap texture if we want. In the image below we can see the result that we get if we use a color, procedural texture (Gradient Falloff Red to Black) and a Bitmap texture in the last case (In retrospect i should have used a different color bitmap to make it different, but hey it’s done so there)

V-Ray Refraction Colors

So if we take a look at the images that we got with adding color in the refraction slot we can safely say that it ends up looking like colored glass. Well when you want to get colored glass this is not the wrong way, but it’s not the right way either and let me explain why. V-Ray has the ability to portray colored glass much better then simply adding color in the refraction slot, it actually has a setting that is exactly for that purpose. This parameter is called Fog Color, and it can be found in the Refraction slot.

If you take a look at the images below you will see that we have added a blue color to the Fog Color, and the strength of the effect is directly controlled by changing the For Multiplier. In the images below we have a multiplier od 10 then 1 then 0,1 and the last has 0.01. The main difference when using Fog Color is that depending on the thickness of the model that it was applied the effect will be stronger on thicker portions while it will be lighter on the thinner parts. This is that extra bit of realism that we get, as this is basically how light reacts in the real physical worlds.

V-Ray Fog Color

V-Ray Refraction Colors Procedural If you click on the little square next to the Fog Color then we can choose to use a bitmap, or a procedural map that will help us control how the glass is going to look like. In my case i used a gradient map that goes from Red to Blue, and you can notice how in the middle where the model is the thinnest we can see the transition of the colors is best visible.

So with this option available to us we can see that we have a very good control on how the glass coloring is going to end up looking like in the end, and when working with materials the more control you have over all the parameters the better the end result is going to end up being.

One thing that is worth mentioning here is that prior to 3.x version of V-Ray the option to add a map to control the fog color was not available, so in case you are using the 2.x version and can’t find the option to add a bitmap know that the reason for that is that it doesn’t come in your version of V-Ray.

And before we finish with this now rather lengthy post, i want to go over one more option in the Refraction menu and that is the Abbe option. This option can be found under the IOR value for the Refraction (if you are using 3.x version) and by ticking the box next to Dispersion (if you are using 2.x version). What Abbe is controlling is basically the dispersion of light inside of the model. This is ideal for materials like crystals and diamonds, and to some extent some types of glass. If you take a look at the image below you will see three different values for Abbe, a Value of 1, 6 and 50 going left to right. We can notice that with a higher value, the dispersion of the light is more localized and it is giving us a more crystal appearance.

V-Ray Abbe

So with all of this that we went over here in this post we should have the basics of the Diffuse, Reflection and Refraction covered. Knowing these things is the first step towards knowing how to construct your basic materials, as well as more complex materials.

Realistic interior lighting with V-Ray

Lighting up your scenes will either make or break your scenes. When i say break your scene i don’t mean like literally crush your scene, but if your scene lighting is not realistic then your entire scene will end up looking fake. By using V-Ray as your render for your interior scenes you can get some near photorealistic results if you know how to setup the general settings for the Global Illumination, the V-Ray light parameters and environment lighting parameters. Well in case this is something that you didn’t know how to do or tweak you are in luck as this post is going to cover most of the basics for lighting an interior scene with V-Ray.

Initially i intended to make this into one video, but when i started recording it simply got to the point when i had to make a choice if i want to have one long 50+ minute video, or break it down to two individual videos so that it can be easier to watch it. As a personal preference i hate watching long videos and prefer to stick to 30 min tops especially when it’s a tutorial video, but if you guys would prefer to have it all into one longer video leave your thoughts as a comment so i know what works better for you in the future. You might also want to check out the Exterior lighting with HDRI post to give you more information on how HDRI works. So lets cut it short with my ranting and lets get down to seeing what the actual videos are about.

LINK TO DOWNLOAD THE SCENE USED IN THE VIDEO

In the first video we will see how we can light up our scene by using a V-Ray Sun, then we add an environment map and see what it does for our scene. After that though we are going to take a look at how to deal with the most common issues that arise when you are lighting your scenes like splotching, and general GI noise. But go ahead and watch the first video so you can see for yourself what i am talking about. Oh and after you are done with watching the first video come back and keep reading on as the second video is basically going to continue on the same scene.

Ok so if you are finished with the first video it’s time to hop on the second one and check out a few more tweaks you can do for your interior scene lighting. In the second video we are going to take a look at how we can light up our scene with an HDR Image, learn how to control the quality of the HDRI as well as how to control the shadow subdivisions and in turn control the noise in the shadow portion of your renders.

So after watching these two videos you should have some basic grasp on how lighting an interior scene is done with V-Ray. As you could see it’s really not that complicated to get around the basics of lighting with V-Ray. I hope this was helpful for you guys and girls and that you managed to learn something new today. If that is the case then toss a like on the facebook page, subscribe to the YouTube channel, like and share so it can reach more people.

Lighting with HDRI and V-Ray Sun

Ok so similar to the previous post where i got a request to make the post about the bed in Marvelous designer, i got another request to make a video about lighting a scene with HDRI images. So lets start from the beginning and first of all explain why should you use an HDRI for lighting.

HDRI stands for High Dynamic Range Image, which in turn means that it is an image that contains a lot of information, especially information that can be used as lighting information by V-Ray. The main difference between using HDRI and for example a single V-Ray Sun is that the HDRI emits light from all the sides depending on the image you have. So if you are using a HDRI with a cloudy day you will get an overcast feel to the scene, if you are using a sunny day HDRI you would get that same look, and on top of it all that HDRI can also be used to get some realistic environment reflections.

So now you know what HDRI does, but where do you get some high quality HDRI images? Well the answer to this question is not a straight forward one as it depends. If you are looking for a High quality HDRI for commercial projects then you probably want to go and actually buy some HDRI that range from 5000×5000 up to 40kx40k resolution, but if you are looking for some HDRI’s that you can use for your projects or in some cases you can even use them professionally check out HDRLABS. These guys are offering a wide spectrum of HDR images that are rather well done and give some nice results. Also there are multiple sites that offer freebies through Facebook ads, so you might want to keep your eyes opened there as well, and also you can Like check out my Facebook DKCGI page if you haven’t already and check out some of the older posts there as i have links to free HDRI’s and sites offering Textures.

Ok so since you know where to get HDRI’s now you can go ahead and jump over to the video. In this video you will learn how to add HDRI image to a V-Ray dome light, how to control the intensity of the light by changing the HDRI. Then i’ll explain why would you want to add a V-Ray sun to the mix and use both V-Ray sun and HDRI together, and even how to link them so when you are controlling one you are actually controlling them both and in turn getting a lot more control over the scene. So enough reading, feel free and go and check out the video.

So i hope this video was helpful for you and you managed to learn something new then like it, comment and share it around so it can reach more people and maybe help them the same way it helped you. Also if there is anything else that you would like to know ask in the comment section and i’ll see if i can make a video about that.

Starting With V-Ray Part 6, Cleaning up Noise

Ok so here we go with the 6th part of the Starting With V-Ray series, in this post and video we’ll see how to deal with noise that we get when we use V-Ray. First thing that i want to explain though is the answer to the question What is noise ?

Well noise is basically manifestation of the lack of information in certain elements of the render, and noise is the best guideline that can help you focus your attention towards specific areas, that is though if you know what to look for.

In the video you will be able to see how to setup the Antialiasing to get a faster and noisier scene, but at the same time how to work with V-Ray passes and define where that noise is coming from and cleaning it up and leaving you with a nice looking render. So if this is something that you want to see how it’s done check out the video.

With this video we are wrapping up the basics of V-Ray so I really hope that you enjoyed this video series and if you have any questions feel free to leave them as a comment either here or on the YouTube channel. Also if you enjoyed this post then subscribe to the YouTube channel, share it around or like it and help spread the word around.

Starting With V-Ray Part 5, Global Illumination (GI)

In this fifth installment of the Starting With V-Ray series we are going to go and try to tackle the GI or the global illumination, and try to explain how it works. One of the more important things that you need to understand if you are working with V-Ray is how to get the GI to work correctly, and that is why i went ahead and did a little theory intro at the start of the video so you can better understand the fundamentals of the GI. But as they say a picture paints a thousand words, so i’ll do one better and i’ll leave you with the video instead of just a picture.

I really hope that you enjoyed this video as well and if you have any questions feel free to leave them as a comment either here or on the YouTube channel. Also if you enjoyed this post then subscribe to the YouTube channel, share it around or like it and help spread the word around.

Starting with V-Ray Part-4, Understanding Color Correction

OK so here we go with the fourth part of the Starting With V-Ray series. In this part we will get to see how the Color Correction works within V-Ray. We will see what are the differences between using Linear Color Correction, Exponential, HSV Exponential as well a Reinhard color correction type. We will also see what do the Bright and Dark multipliers control as well as the Burn value for Reinhard. So without making this intro any longer than it should be i’ll leave you here with the video.

I really hope that you enjoyed this video as well and if you have any questions feel free to leave them as a comment either here or on the YouTube channel. Also if you enjoyed this post then subscribe to the YouTube channel, share it around or like it and help spread the word around.

That’s all for now and remember, stay hungry for more knowledge as that is how you get to improve.

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