Making Of 'The Brown Teapot'


A greatly overlooked method in 3d modelling is displacement.  Many newcomers to the wide world of 3d graphics attempt to model highly detailed geometry, either with standard poly-modelling techniques or more recently sculpting with the success of highly popular software packages, such as ZBrush or Mudbox.

Typically, in a sculpting software package, the artist is required firstly to model the object, and then manually sculpt enough detail into the object to make it believable.  A displacement map in 'bitmap' form is then created, and placed onto a UVW unwrapped mesh.  This method can become extremely tiresome, with copious amounts of effort required just to make it believable.

With a 3d procedural map, the need for unwrapping is minimised in basic objects, and details can be controlled and implemented easily with sliders and numerical data.

This tutorial was originally created as a 'vent of frustration' with all the questions from 3d beginners wanting to know which sculpting package is better for modelling an object that can be thrown together in 5 minutes in Max, without the need for any third party software (that, and because I really wanted to make a 3d model of poo!).

Note: The procedural maps are also able to be animated.

Step 1: The Setup

Although I will attempt to explain the process as thoroughly as I can, it is advisable that you have basic knowledge of the 3ds Max interface before continuing with this tutorial.
When working with procedural mapping, it's always important to be fully aware of the scale of your scene.  For the purposes of this tutorial, you should use the same scale as I use, along the way, in order to achieve a similar result.  As you become familiar with the techniques discussed, you can use whatever scale you need.

You should also build a basic studio scene to base your object in, as extensive test rendering will be required throughout this tutorial.  There are hundreds of tutorials on the internet on creating a studio setup.  Choose whatever method is easiest for you.

Please note: I will use VRay for the test renders as that is how my 'studio' scene is set up.  You may use any render engine you like.  They'll all give similar results if set up correctly.

I will use a conventional setup like so (Top View) (Fig.01):



You can read the tutorial on how to create this exact setup in the 3dtotal forums:

Step 2: Map Creation

Here is an expanded tree-view of the procedural map we are going to create.  Being the diligent and highly organised individual that I am, I didn't think about naming the maps (I created the original image on the fly and didn't know I was going to write a tutorial about it!).
You may wish to print this image out, as I will be referring to it constantly throughout the tutorial.  It is not necessary to name the maps as I have them named here, so long as you are aware which map I am referring to applies to your mapping tree. (Fig.02)

Fig. 33

Fig. 33

Begin the setup by placing a teapot in your scene with a radius of 12 to 15 and 16 segments.  Add a VRayDisplacement Modifier to the teapot.  If you don't have VRay, a standard displacement modifier above a turbosmooth modifier with 2 subdivisions will be fine.(Fig.03a & 03b)

Fig 04

Fig 04

Fig. 03a

Fig 05

Fig 05

Fig. 03b

In the 'texmap' slot of the VRay displacement modifier (or 'Map' slot of your standard Max displacement modifier), add a new 'smoke' map.  This smoke map will play the major role in our material, so it's important we get this one right if nothing else.  Once you have created it, open your material editor and drag it across to a blank slot (instance) so we can edit it.

You should change the settings to look like the image below.  This map is the base of our displacement, and is aptly named 'Displacement' in my scene (refer to mapping tree).(Fig.04)

Fig. 04

Also, edit your displacement modifier by putting the amount to 4, and Shift to 1.  Make the edge length 2 pixels.  This will make the displacement nice and crisp.

You could even increase the max subdivisions, but the edge length is enough just for test renders.  If you are using the standard displacement modifier, then simply increase the strength to 2 or 3.

Let's give it a test render! (Fig.05)

Fig. 05

Now you can see that the displacement didn't really turn out how we wanted, so we will tweak the settings and add some more depth to the map.

We'll begin by dropping the displacement amount and shift.  I set mine to 2 & 0.5 respectively.  If you are using the standard displacement modifier, you can just leave the settings as they are.

Hit F9 (Quick Render) for another test. (Fig.06)

Fig. 06

Now we want to add some irregularities to our displacement map, so in the 'Colour 2' slot of our 'Displacement' smoke map, we will add a stucco procedural.  The stucco procedural will allow us to place irregular 'splotches' throughout our map.

Change the size of the Stucco Parameters to between 4.0 and 4.5, with a thickness of 0.05 and a threshold of about 0.6 to 0.7.  Adjust the colours so that Colour #2 is a dark grey.  You may leave Colour #1 as default as we will be adding a map to that slot.

It should produce a similar map, as shown in the screenshot below.(Fig.07)

Fig. 07

My scene refers to this map as Map #12 (refer to mapping tree).

In the colour #1 slot of Stucco Map #12, add another 'Smoke' map.  Change the size to about 20, with 3 iterations and an exponent of 1.
You may as well leave the colours as default. (Fig.08)

Fig. 08

This map, funnily enough, is also called map #12 in my scene.  I really should have put more thought into this!
In the 2nd colour slot of Stucco - Map #12, we will add yet another stucco map.  Change the settings to represent the image below, and please note that my scene refers to this map as Map #59. (Fig.09)

Fig. 09

Now we will go back to our smoke map (Smoke Map #12), and in the 1st colour slot we will add another smoke map (referring to Map #1 - Smoke).

Let's adjust this smoke map as per the screenshot below. (Fig.10)

Fig. 10

In Smoke Map #1 (Our latest smoke map), we will add another stucco map (Stucco Map #1).  Please see below.(Fig.11)

Fig. 11

And finally, in the colour #2 slot of our Stucco Map #1, we will add a Cellular map, which my scene refers to as Cellular Map #56.

Adjust to match the settings in the picture below.(Fig.12)

Fig. 12

Step 3: Fine-tuning the Procedural Map

We have now compiled our 100% procedural displacement map.  Let's see how it looks! (Fig.13)

Fig. 13

It still isn't quite what we're after, is it?  This is due, primarily, to our scene's scale and the scale of the maps we have created (I did mention this tutorial requires extensive test rendering, didn't I?).

Let's make some of the map sizes smaller, especially our 'Displacement' smoke map.  I reduced the size from 6 to 3 in the 'displacement' smoke map only, and you can see how dramatic the difference is with the displacement effect. This looks a lot better.(Fig.14)

Fig. 14

Step 4: Understanding Scale of Procedural Maps Relative to Scale of Scene

The following images are an example of the displacement effect using different map scales. The sphere is a spherified cube, with dimensions of 35x35x35.

Here is a standard smoke map displacement, with the default size of 40.(vraydisp1)


And the exact same scene with just the size of the smoke map reduced to 5.0. (vraydisp2)


And finally, with the size set to 1.0, (vraydisp3)


You can see the huge effect simply resizing the maps have on the displacement modifier!

Step 5: Pinching it off!

Now we are going to create the effect of the teapot dropping on the ground, like a big, steamy cowpat.  Pick up your teapot, and rotate it and position it where you would like it to be dropped from.(Fig. 15)

Fig. 15

Now here's the secret technique...  We are going to add a cloth modifier to the teapot below the displacement modifier: (Fig.16)

Click 'Object Properties'
Click 'Add Objects'
Add the studio floor and make it a collision object

Fig. 16

I chose to set the cloth for the teapot to heavy leather.  You can choose whatever one you want, as they all will deform differently.

Select your cloth setting for the teapot, click Simulate local, and get ready to stop it when you think it's in a good spot... (Fig.17 & 18)

Fig. 17

Fig. 18

Apply an FFD 2x2x2 modifier to your stack.  Then you can deform the teapot to enhance the 'splat' effect (or, for more control, use a 3x3x3 or a 4x4x4 FFD modifier instead).  I used a 2x2x2 for this example. (Fig.19)

Fig. 19

I know you're excited, so let's have a look! (Fig.20)

Ewww... Now we are indeed looking "pooey"...

Fig. 20

Step 6: Colouring In!

Without further ado, let's give this little fella some colour!  In a blank material slot, change the material to 'Blend'.  Drag your special displacement map over to the mask slot.  Make sure you 'instance' it so that any changes made to your displacement map later will also be made to this slot, and vice versa. (Fig.21)

Fig. 21

I added 2 materials with different colours to each of the material slots, so you can see how the effect will come out.  I used vray materials, but you can use any material you want in the 2 blend slots.(Fig. 22)

Fig. 22

I used the following settings for the primary material. 

I added a vray dirt map to the diffuse slot.  This material determines the primary colour of the teapot.  There is no requirement to use a vray dirt map, so if you don't have vray then just use a flat colour or whatever alternative suits you.

I also 'instanced' the displacement map again into the bump map slot of the material. (Fig.23, 24 & 25)

Fig. 23

Fig. 24

Fig. 25

The second main material of the blend material is simple.  It's a very dark brown colour (almost black), with very little reflection (almost black).

I added a small 'dent' procedural to the bump slot.(Fig.26)

Fig. 26

The complete material should now look like this (Fig.27):

Fig. 27

Now, before we test render, make sure your AA and GI settings are turned down.  This may take a while. (Fig.28)

...OK, all done!

Fig. 28

Not happy? Me either!  Play around with your colours, reflections and glossiness.  I decreased the glossiness a little, changed the reflection colour to a more neutral desaturated brown, and changed the colour in the dirtmap.(Fig.29)

Another test render

Fig. 29

And with default scanline renderer (Fig.30):

Fig. 30

That is how it is done!

Although this example used a turd as an example, there are many uses for this particular style; mashed potatoes, mud, a cream of some kind...  It's really up to your imagination!

I hope this tutorial has given you an insight into the power of procedural mapping, and encourages you or gives you more confidence to utilise this grossly misunderstood feature of 3ds Max.

For comments or questions, you may send me (Honki) a private message through the Threedy forums.
Additionally, the 3ds Max files (Both VRay compatible and standard) are available for download through the Threey forums:

Final Image

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