Architectural Visualization: Rendering in mental ray
Hello everybody, my name is Maxim Ganzha. After many requests from my friends I decided to write a little article about how I created my interiors. We will look thought the process of rendering one of my last works with super lighting and gorgeous composition that I made in mental ray: "Living Room"
Did you ever wonder why some interior works in galleries are more interesting than others? The main secret is in beautiful lighting settings and stylish composition. That's exactly what we will talk about in this article. I'm not going to describe the process of modeling because in that case the article would become too long and boring.
Let's start with the rendering!
Light Settings and Adjustments
To start let's open our scene and choose the mental ray render from the list of our available renders.
Open the scene (Fig.01).
Go to the render settings by clicking F10. In the Assign Renderer section push the Choose Renderer button and choose mental ray (Fig.02).
After choosing the renderer, mental ray's shaders and materials will become available in the Material/Map Browser. Chose the material called "Arch & Design" and adjust the Diffuse color like this: the color of Diffuse RGB is about 0,8 0,8 0,8 and the other adjustments you can see in Fig.03. Also I would like to note that you shouldn't forget to switch on Ambient Occlusion in your materials.Â With this adjustment the shades will look more realistic and in the corners of your scene the darkness which is peculiar to realistic lightning will appear. I put the value of Max Distance equal to approximately 3 meters (this is the distance between the floor and ceiling)(Fig.03).
Open the render setup. In Translator Options switch enable Material Override and put our gray material in the material slot. With this option we will fill in all our objects in scene with one material. This will help you and your system to adjust the lighting more easily. The render will be fast. The materials for all the objects in our scene will be looked at in more detail later (Fig.04).
After assigning the gray material to all the objects we need to create the Daylight System (Fig.05).
Create the sun. It's not a problem if it shines from the opposite side. Go to the system settings and, as shown in Fig.06, set the position to Manual. After this step we can place the sun randomly without setting the date and time.Â Let's place the sun as it shown in Fig.07.
While creating the Daylight System, 3ds Max will prompt us to add a "mr Physical Sky" environment map. Agree and then continue (Fig.08).
Now that we've set up the Daylight System let's work with windows. We need to place a "mr Sky Portal" inside them. It is situated near the Photometric lights (Fig.09).
Click on the button and use the settings shown in Fig.10 - 11.
As you can see, the portal is directed at the opposite side. We need the arrow to be turned in the direction of the room. To change the direction, just switch on Flip Light Flux Direction (Fig.12).
The next step is to select our portal and move it to the second window using the Shift key. 3ds Max will offer us several types of copying - choose Instance (Fig.13).
And with that we have set up the daylight. Now we just need to adjust it. Press F10 and turn on Final Gather (FG) and enable Global Illumination (GI). The settings are shown in Fig.14. Don't forget to reduce the quality of the FG Precision Preset.
Let's set the resolution of the picture to 450 x 338 pixels and make a test render (Fig.15).
Push the "8" key and in Environment settings in Exposure Control section choose "mr
Photographic Exposure Control" (Fig.16)
Click the render and here's what we get (Fig.17).
For this render the next exposure settings are corresponding (Fig.18).
As we can see we don't get anything special. The light is pale and ugly. To make the light more interesting we need to adjust the Exposure control.Â I remembered that I wanted to use an artificial light - to turn on the floor lamp near the sofa. The sun was preventing it and that's why I originally turned it off. So let's go to the daylight system settings and turn off "mr Sun Basic Parameters" (Fig.19).
Press the "8" key again and adjust the exposure control as it shown in Fig.20.
And here's what we get (Fig.21)
This one looks more interesting and the daylight seems to be more realistic. Now let's move to floor lamp lightning settings. In artificial lighting I like to use photometric lights. Let's pick up this one (Fig.22).
And let's place it instead of the light bulb in the floor lamp, as shown in Fig.23 - 24.
In lighting settings turn on the ShadowsÂ > Ray Traced Shadows and in Shape/Area Shadows set up the disk radius equal to 30mm. Turn on the check mark in Light Shape Visible Rendering and set up 64 samples. This setting will help us to achieve beautiful realistic shadows from the lamp (Fig.25 - 26).
And this is what we get (Fig.27).
The lamp glow turns out white, but I want to make it look more like a simple lamp. For this we need to decrease the lighting temperature. Also the light is too intensive. With such camera exposure and daylight we shouldn't really even see it and now it looks like a searchlight. So let's open the photometric lights settings and set up the temperature and intensity (Fig.28).
And here's what we get (Fig.29 - 30).
Now that's more like it. The ideal lighting. I like it a lot, and what about you? The tint of orange and
blue lights is the best combination in architectural visualization.
I would like to add some special effects. For this let's go to the Render settings and in the Camera Effects section turn on check Output > DefaultOutputShader (Glare). Take the shader by the mouse, drop it in into the Material Editor and choose Instance for the type of copying (Fig.31).
Behind the windows set up the object "plan". This will be our background (Fig.32).
In the Object Properties turn on the check marks as it shown in Fig.33.
And set the material "Arch & Design" to it (Fig.34).
Make a test render again and look at what we get. For fast rendering I set up a gray material for all objects except the background (Fig.35).
So we have a nice picture. A weak haze from the glow effect makes the image more alive. Now let's look through the material settings.
Now it's time to look through the basic materials settings which we're going to use in this scene. Let's begin with the most interesting one.
As we can see from the grid the geometry is quite simple (Fig.36).
In the carpet, use the "Arch & Design" material with the following settings. The diffuse map (Fig.37 - 39).
Use the following texture for the displacement map (Fig.40 - 41).
The sofa's grid is a difficult one. We're going to use two materials for it: cloth and wood for the legs (Fig.42).
Let's look at the textile material (Fig.43).
In the diffuse slot drop down, under Ambient/ Reflective Occlusion Parameters place two of the same type of textures inside. The only one difference between them is that one is darker than the other. The settings can be seen in Fig.44.
The next parameters are for ambient occlusion and bump (Fig.45).
Now the wooden legs (Fig.46).
In diffuse let's use the simple parquet map. The settings can be seen in Fig.47.
The bump settings are as follows (Fig.48).
The Coffee Table
The materials and grid of coffee table look like this (Fig.49 - 50).
The glass is just the "Arch & Design" material. Pick the finished material as shown in Fig.51.
I want to create an "Arch & Design" magazine and not spend much time on the settings of the material. So let's just use glossy plastic (Fig.52).
The magazine grid looks like this (Fig.53).
The settings can be seen in Fig.54. Paint the pages with the same material only change the diffuse color to white.
The Newspaper Box
The box is made from lacquering wood. Let's paint it with "ProMaterials" Hardwood (Fig.55).
The newspaper box grid (Fig.56).
The ProMaterial Hardwood settings can be seen in Fig.57.
Also use second material for the newspaper itself and make it mat (Fig.58).
The newspapers material settings are shown in Fig.59.
Let's use my favorite "Arch & Design" material again for the flower (Fig.60).
And here's the grid (Fig.61).
The settings you can see in Fig.62 - 63.
The Window Shades
For the window shades we're going to use this material (Fig.64). After experimenting for a bit I think this material looks best.
The grid for the window shades is as follows (Fig.65).
Use the cloth texture in the diffuse map of the material. Don't forget about the Ambient Occlusion parameter
(Fig.66 - 67)!
We're going to make the walls look like old plaster which has been painted over. Again, let's use my favorite "Arch & Design" material (Fig.68).
The wall map looks like this (Fig.69).
The reflection settings look like this (Fig.70 - 71).
The Parquet Material
For the parquet material we're going to use "Arch & Design" again (Fig.72).
Settings are as follows (Fig.73 - 74).
The Floor Lamp
We need to use three materials for the floor lamp. These are the lampshade (cloth) upright (metal) and electric wire (plastic) (Fig.75).
Let's start with my favorite "Arch & Design" material - the textile on the lampshade (Fig.76).
It is an easy one: the color in diffuse, a little transparency and bump. We can see in settings in Fig.77 - 78.
For the upright metal material used ProMaterials: Metal (Fig.79 - 80).
The material for the plastic wires of the floor lamp is ProMaterials: Plastic/Vinyl (Fig.81).
To end this materials section I would like to share a very useful link with you, which concerns using materials in mental ray. It has helped me many times and I want to say thanks to the founders of this site: http://www.mrmaterials.com/
Final Render Settings
Now it's time to increase our render settings and make the final render. In Fig.82 - 86 you can see the settings.
It is an easy one: the color in diffuse, a little transparency and bump. We can see in settings in Fig.77 - 78.
Press the render button and wait for the result!
For tips about composition, check out my guide to the 10 basic rules of image composition by clicking here.
Post - Processing
After composition it's now time to make our picture more interesting with the help of post-processing. I always do this stage in my everyday projects because there are some things that could be easier made in Photoshop than in 3ds Max.
So what that we have now (Fig.87)
The possibilities of mental ray are very wide and the picture almost doesn't require any additional effects. But I think it will be good to add several lens effects. This will give the feeling of a real photo. Also the picture is missing a blue glow effect around the windows, so let's open our picture in Fusion and use the "SoftGlow" effect (Fig.88).
Press the polygon and outline the window as shown in Fig.89. Draw the mask to which the glow effect will be applied.
The next step is to blur the mask's borders. For this, press the icon, and in the settings in the right-hand part of the window, move the slider Soft Edge to the right until you will achieve the blur (Fig.90).
Next let's outline the mask for the second window. We need to get the following result (Fig.91).
Press the SoftGlow icon and adjust it as shown in Fig.92.
We will get the nice glow around the windows (Fig.93).
Again press the SoftGlow icon and use the effect for the whole picture. Adjust it in such a way that we achieve a light blue glow for our picture (Fig.94).
Turn off the check marks for Red, Green and Alpha and move the Gain slider to the right. In Fig.95 you can see the results on the left side without the effect and on the right side, with the effect.
Then press the Sharpen icon to add some sharpness to our picture and save the result (Fig.96).
Close Fusion and let's open our picture in Photoshop (Fig.97).
We're going to use the Magic Bullet Photo Looks plug-in now. Apply the Anamorphic Flare effect with the following settings (Fig.98).
We get nice glow similar to that of a real camera. Next step - let's apply the Vignette effect and add a little darkness in the corners of the picture. You can see all required setting in Fig.99.
Now we're going to use an interesting effect called Shutter Streak. It will give us little rays in the upper and lower part of our picture (Fig.100).
Now it's my favorite step! We will apply the Chromatic Aberration effect and adjust it as shown in Fig.101. In a picture with high resolution it will be almost unnoticeable but will give our work more realism.
Press OK and save the picture. This is what you should end up with (Fig.102).
And with that my lesson is now over. Good luck and fast renders!
Sincerely yours, Maxim Ganzha.