In this 3ds Max tutorial we’re going to create a 3d water surface that could be a lake, a sea, or an ocean. The 3d water is illuminated with the Daylight system. It might sound complicated but it’s actually pretty simple (at least in 3ds max 2010) since the default settings work so well.
We’re going to render the 3d ocean with the Mental Ray. By default 3ds Max uses the Scanline renderer so we have to change that. Change the renderer to the Mental Ray ().
Create a Plane () in the top viewport . Modify the Plane ( ) according to the following parameters :
Create a Target Camera () in the top viewport to the center of the plane. Go to the right viewport and place the camera and the camera target according to picture below.
Activate the Perspective view and press C in the keyboard to activate the Camera view.
Open Material Editor () and create an ocean material:
We’re going to illuminate our 3d ocean scene with the Daylight system. Daylight is a system that mimics real world sun. Create the Daylight system () in the top viewport. A new dialog appears. 3ds Max suggests that you use mr Photographic Exposure Control with EV=15. Just click YES. ( If the dialog doesn’t appear, apply the setting manually ( )). Modify the following parameters of the Daylight:
We have the ocean and the daylight system so it’s a good idea to check how the rendered image looks like. Your image should look similar to picture below. In the background you see the mr Physical Sky environment map which was added automatically in the previous step. The brown line represents the ground in the background map. Thanks to Metal Ray’s lume shader the plane looks like and 3d ocean already. However, there are some things I’d like to change:
The horizon can be lowered in the parameters of the Daylight ():
Open Material Editor () and make the following changes to the ocean material:
Color, saturation, and brightness of the image can be adjusted in the parameters of the Daylight:
( Notice that the default colors were more realistic, these color changes are purely for artistic reasons ; )
If you look closely you might see minor aliasing problems in the distant waves. To fix this, just increase antialiasing quality by increasing Mental Ray’s sampling values ():
Create a Torus Knot () to see how standard objects look in the water. Go to the Modify panel and apply the following parameters:
And if you feel like it, do some color correction in Photoshop:
Now our 3d water is complete. Next we’re going to see what else we can get out of the daylight system.
Let’s explore further the power of the Daylight system. Let’s simulate sunset by placing the sun near the horizon. Now we can actually see the sun and notice how the daylight system changes color and intensity based on the angle of the sun. ( you might want to decrease the sampling values () temporarily to speed up the rendering ).
Tip: you can see the sun and illumination before rendering the image if you do the following:
Let’s make the rendering more interesting by changing the colors to more orange. Select the Daylight. go to the Modify panel, and apply the following parameters:
Next we’re going to add some glare to the sun to make it more interesting. Apply Glare Camera Shader () Just turn the output shader on, the glare shader should be selected by default.
Tip: If you’d like to adjust the Glare shader you can just drag and drop it into a material slot in Material Editor (
Tip: Another way to adjust the sun glare is to drag and drop ‘mr Physical Sky’ ( ) into a material slot in Material Editor and adjust it there. ( )
Let’s add some Fog/Haze to the scene to blend the horizon with the background. Select the Daylight, go to the Modify panel, and apply the following settings:
I’ll do some color correction in Photoshop to make the image more dramatic:
The final thing we’re going to try with the 3ds Max Daylight system is a moonlit night scene. We can’t get perfect blue color out of the Daylight system so let’s remove the color from it. Select the Daylight, go to the Modify panel, and apply the following parameters:
Those values are well suited for subtle changes but now we need a radical change so we’re going to change the mr Photographic Exposure Control settings ():
Now I’m tempted to add fireworks over the 3d ocean to create some magic to the image but for the sake of the length of this tutorial we’ll settle with some floating light sources. Create a sphere (), go to the Modify panel, and apply the following parameters to it:
Open Material Editor () and create a new material for the sphere:
We’ll create standard lights so we should change the mr Photographic Exposure Control settings ():
Create a standard Omni light (), go to the Modify panel, and apply the following parameters to it:
Place the Omni to the middle of the sphere. Now one light source is ready. Make several copies of it and move them around.
Finally we’re going to create a stronger glare to the moon and the spheres by modifying the glare shader:
Darken the moon to create a little more convincing image. Select the Daylight, go to the Modify panel, and decrease the multiplier value of the Daylight system:
Render the image and you should get something like picture below.
You probably guessed it. I’ll do some color correction in Photoshop to make the image pop:
And that’s it for today. I hope it helps and you’re able to create something beautiful. Let’s continue in the comments!