In this 3ds Max tutorial we’re going to create colorful 3d birthday balloons and render them with Mental Ray. This is a fine example of the power of 3ds Max. With just a few standard primitives and modifiers you can get believable results fast. I am using 3ds Max 2010 but this should be doable with many older versions as well.
Step 1 The Basic Geometry for the 3D Balloon
Create a Sphere () in the top viewport . Modify the Sphere ( ) according to the following parameters :
- Radius: 100
- Segments: 100 ( )
Step 2 Make the Sphere Look Like a Balloon
Add FFD 3x3x3 modifier to the sphere () and activate the Control Points sub-object level. Select the bottom middle control point and move it 160 units downwards like in the picture below ( ). Check both front and left views to make sure you really select the middle control point.
Step 3 The Knot of the 3D Balloon
Next we’re going to create the balloon knot. Again, we can create it fast by using just standard primitives and a few modifiers. First create a Torus Knot () in the top viewport and apply ( ) the following parameters:
- Base Curve
- Radius: 1.3
- Segments: 120
- P: 3.0
- Q: 1.5
- Cross Section
- Radius: 1.2
- Sides: 12
Place the knot to the base of the balloon like in picture below.
Create Cone and Torus () in the top viewport. Use the modify panel ( ) to modify them according to the following parameters:
- Radius 1: 6.0
- Radius 2: 1.0
- Height: 8.5
- Height Segments: 20
- Cap Segments: 1
- Sides: 50
- Radius 1: 6.4
- Radius 2: 0.8
- Segments: 50
- Sides: 40
Place the new objects according to picture below and combine them into a group ().
Step 5 Finalizing the Geometry of the Birthday Balloon
Add Noise modifier () to the group you just created and apply the following parameters to it:
- Scale: 60
- Fractal: YES
- Roughness: 0
- Iterations: 6.0
- X: 10
- Y: 10
- Z: 4
Fix the placement of the group () and your model should look like in the picture below. Combine all objects into a group ( ). Now the geometry of the birthday balloon is complete.
Step 6 Activate Mental Ray Renderer
Next we’re going to create material for the balloon and render it with Mental Ray. By default 3ds Max uses Scanline renderer so we have to change that. Change the renderer to Mental Ray ().
Step 7 Arch & Design Material for the Balloon
Let’s open the Material Editor () and create the balloon material :
- Select the whole balloon and assign material to it
- Material type: Arch & Design
- Template from the drop-down list: Translucent Plastic Film, Light
- Color: bright red (R0,9 G0,0 B0,0)
- Transparency: 0.6
- Glossiness: 0.6
- Glossy Samples: 32 ( )
Step 8 First Test Render in 3ds Max
Change the background color to white () and make the first test render. The render should look like picture below. It’s nothing special, but stay tuned. We’ll make it shine really soon!
Step 9 Window Reflections
Next we’re going to create more interesting reflections. Let’s create geometry and material for window reflections. Create four huge boxes in the top viewport with the following parameters.
- Length: 2700
- Width: 2800
- Height: 1
Combine the boxes into a group named ‘Window reflections’ (). Assign a new standard material to the group and make the following adjustments to the material:
- Color: pure white
- Specular Level: 999
Your boxes should look like in picture below:
Step 10 The Illumination
Create Skylight () with the following parameters:
- Sky Color: pure white
When you work with Skylight you have to turn Final Gather on. In 3ds Max 2010 Final Gather is on by default but in older versions you have to turn it on ().
Create Omni light (). Adjust the Omni light so that it affects only the Window reflections:
- Click ‘Exclude…’ button
- Select ‘Include’ in the top of the new dialog
- Select ‘Window reflections’ from the list
- Click the right arrow in the middle of the dialog
- Click ‘OK’
The include parameter makes the Omni light affect only the Window reflections. This way you can adjust the intensity of the reflections by adjusting the Multiplier of the Omni light.
Rotate Window reflections 45 degrees and place the objects according to picture below.
Step 11 Rendering a Test Image
Render a test image to see if it looks like picture below. If the reflection appears in the wrong location, just move the Window reflections group.
Step 12 Finalize the 3D Balloon
If you look closely you might see minor aliasing problems in the edges. To fix this, just increase antialiasing quality by increasing sampling values ():
- Samples per pixel:
- Minimum: 1
- Maximum: 16
Render the image again and that’s it for a single 3d balloon. Just make some color correction in Photoshop.
- Saturation +15
- Brightness -20
- Contrast +40
Step 13 Multiple 3D Balloons
Our transparent and reflective material really shines when multiple balloons are rendered so let’s try that. Make several copies of the balloon material by drag and drop. Just change the name and color of the new materials. Next make many instance copies () of the balloon , apply materials, and move them around. I have 92 balloons in my final scene.
Step 14 Rendering 92 Birthday Balloons
Render the final image. The rendering might take some time because of the reflections, blurry transparency, and antialiasing. I bumped up the quality settings and made a very high resolution () render for a stock agency and it took about a week to render it ; )
Step 15 Making the Image Pop !
Do some color correction in Photoshop to make your image pop!
- Brightness +50
- Contrast +40
I hope you enjoyed this! I’d love to hear how this tutorial is working for you!