Making of 'Peterbilt 379'


Greetings all, my name is Andrey and I'm from Russia. First of all, I wish to thank the 3DTotal team for featuring my work and this 'making of' article.

To begin, I would like to say that I'm basically a 3D modeller, and so for the creation of this work it was necessary for me to study many articles about the adjustment of lights, renders, materials, and so on. This experience proved to be very useful for me in the creation of this artwork, despite the amount of time spent researching. In general, I think that before starting to do something, it is necessary to have the necessary experience in order to be 100% assured that all will turn out OK in the end.

In this making of article, I will not show you the entire process of creation of the work in detail, but I will go through just the basic stages of production for you and cover some of the things which proved helpful with this particular image.

References & Drawings

After you get an idea for an artwork, it is necessary to then find as much research material as possible to support it and help you to develop your concept. The best assistants in this area are your camera and, of course, the Internet. After several days of research I had photographs of practically all units of the model, and, more importantly, I found some excellent quality blueprints!

Here is my first tip: before placing any drawings in 3ds Max, I go over them to make them harder and darker. By doing this, the colours of the allocated objects and sub-objects will not merge with the colours of the blueprint and cause confusion (Fig.01 - Spline is not visible; Fig.02 - Spline is visible in a window projection). Now we are ready to start modelling!

Modelling - The Body

This truck has a simple form, so I decided to refuse the application of the Meshsmooth modifier (which is present only on the discs, seats and on some of the other details). I began modelling the body with the construction of the basic contours using splines. Further various modifiers were applied to them, and only at the end was the model converted into Editable Poly. The most important thing when using this technique is that you never work with separate parts of the model in the initial stage, only with groups. This very much facilitates and accelerates the process. There is no need to work on each part of the mesh; only after converting to Editable Poly does the cutting and influence on each area begin.

The unique complex moment here was in the creation of chamfers:

Fig. 03 - Basic operations

Fig. 04 - Select edges                                             Fig. 05 - Extrude edges

Fig. 06 - Select edges                                             Fig. 07 - Chamfer edges

Fig. 08 - Select edges                                             Fig. 09 - Chamfer edges

By the way, there is one material which I constantly use, allowing me to very easily control the correctness of the form of the object. Create a standard material with adjustments approximately as shown in the image, and apply it to the object (Fig.14 - Material for control shape of objects).

The patch of light allows me to see any mistakes and discrepancies in the form. If you see an equal patch of light, it means that all is well and it is possible to move on to the next stage (Fig.15 - Light Patches).

Fig.13 - Render result

Modelling - Frame, Suspension Bracket, Transmission & Other Details

These units consisted of huge quantities of details, but to model them was very simple. I basically drew splines, extruded them, and then applied the Lathe modifier or used standard primitives. So here it was all rather simple (some parts of the modelling work for this stage are shown below).

Modelling - Lights

Fig.16 - Basic shapes drawn and vertexes placed correctly                   Fig.17 - Spline was ready for edit patch modifier to be applied

Fig. 18                                           Fig. 19                                         Fig. 20

                        Patch edited                           Converted to poly and turbosmooth modifier     Details added, like glass, lamp and reflector

Modelling - Exhaust Pipe

                    Fig. 21 - Main spline drawn                                           Fig. 22 - Spline made visible at render and in viewports

Fig.23 - Chamfers made                                                             Fig.24 - Outside part of pipe drawn

Fig.25 - Lathe and UWV modifiers                                 Fig.26 - Arm                                             Fig.27 - Nuts and shaft        

      Fig.28 - Spline drawn for the handle                                                       Fig.29 - View from other Viewports      

              Fig.30 - Handle ready                                                             Fig.31 - Entire pipe with UVW modifier

Some other details are shown below

Fig.32 - Door and rear mirrors                                                                   Fig.33 - Engine                                                

              Fig.34 - Engine                         Fig.35 - Engine and some of the interior parts                   Fig.36 - Main lights              

Fig.37 - Chassis ready - rear view                                                       Fig.38 - Chassis ready - front view

Fig.39 - Model ready                                                                             Fig.40 - Model ready

So, the model was ready at this stage and it was possible to move on to the following step.

Lights & Materials

To begin this stage, I created a studio environment. I then created 3 light sources and a VRay Physical Camera. Here is how it turned out (Fig.41 - Studio - top view; Fig.42 - Studio - front view):

  1. VRay Light - the basic light source in the setup
  2. Target Spot - an additional source for the generation of warm tones; directed away from the car and shining onto the studio
  3. Omni - for the creation of luminescence behind the truck
  4. VRay Physical Camera (Fig.43 - Camera adjustments)

To get reflections on the truck I used planes with a VrayLightmtl applied. The Gradient Ramp allowed me to easily adjust the sharpness of the borders of the reflections (Fig.44 - Reflection plane material).

Studio Material

To get more contrast in the reflections from the studio, I put a Falloff map in the Diffuse channel. Without it, reflections in studio on the chrome-plated details would look too similar and boring. Basically, it helped to achieve having additional illumination in the scene, influencing only on the studio, but it was also going to complicate the rendering (Fig.45 - Studio material).

Fig. 45

Fig. 45

Materials of Objects - Basic Chrome

Some blurriness was added specially to the reflections on the chrome-plated surfaces; the objects were visually not lost in their own reflections and their form was easily readable.

Fig.46 - Basic chrome

Materials of Objects - Tyres

For the tyres I used 2 materials on the basis of the following adjustments:

Fig.47 - Basic tyre material                                   Fig.48 - Bump map                                       Fig.49 - Displace map

Materials of Objects - Car Paint

This is my special secret! I will tell you simply that car paint consists of three layers, each having different parameters for Reflection and Refl. Glossiness.

Materials of Objects - Headlight Glass, Etc

To strengthen reflections, I put an Output map into the Reflection channel.

Fig.50 - Main light glass                                                               Fig.51 - Additional light glass

(Other materials were simple in their adjustments and do not therefore demand special descriptions.)


Besides the basic image I also rendered some other passes: VrayReflection and VraySpecular. These helped in the final processing stage of the image in Photoshop.

There were render adjustments which I used to render image at a size of about 3500 x 2600 pixels. Fortunately, I took great care of the optimisation of my render adjustments, because I usually rendered my work at night and so had the opportunity of the network rendering using several powerful machines!

Fig.52 - 54 - Render adjustments - Click to enlarge images

Post- Processing

(Unfortunately, my initial render passes were not kept, so I will simply show you the further actions on a picture rendered with another camera, but with the same adjustments.)

I opened up all the render passes from the renderings in Photoshop, collect them all in one file. On the bottom layer I kept the basic image with colour correction, brightness/contrast filters, etc. In general, what this does is creates a picture which is more natural-looking. Furthermore, there was a layer with reflections which helped to easily control the intensity of reflections, because adjusting them all directly in Max was difficult enough! Then there was a Vrayspecular layer, which I gave a Gaussian Blur filter and altered its Brightness/Contrast. There was one layer for an additional Glow effect, and the final two layers were added using the Overlay layer blending mode.

                Fig.55 - Layer 1 - Colour Correction                                     Fig.56 - Layer 2 - Opacity 4-8%, Blending mode: Normal

Fig.57 - Layer 3 - Gaussian Blur, Brightness/Contrast,                               Fig.58 - Layer 4 - Soft white Brush, Blending mode:

Blending mode: Overlay                                                                           Overlay, Opacity 10-20%

Here are final images received from the above direction (Fig.59 - 61).

Fig. 59

Fig. 59

Fig. 60

Fig. 60

Fig. 61

Fig. 61

Finally, I wish to give many thanks to everyone who has assisted and supported me, and I hope this making of will be useful for some people. I wish you all many creative successes!