In this beginner’s tutorial we’re going to illuminate a simple warehouse interior in 3ds Max. We’ll explore techniques to illuminate the interior through windows only. To keep things simple we’ll concentrate on lights that work with Final Gather and leave Global Illumination out of the discussion. I’m using 3ds Max 2011.
We’re going to render the scene with Mental Ray. By default 3ds Max uses the Scanline renderer so we have to change that. Change the renderer to Mental Ray ().
This tutorial is about Mental Ray lighting but first we’ll create a really simple warehouse interior. Create a box () in the top viewport . Modify the box ( ) according to the following parameters:
Next we’re going to create the windows. Add Edit Poly modifier to the box (). Activate the polygon sub-object level, and delete two polygons in the right viewport.
Activate the vertex sub-object level and move the vertices to change the size and shape of the windows according to the picture below. ( Click and drag to select a row or column of vertices at once. )
Now the geometry is complete, but since we’re going to render the interior we should flip the normals of all the polygons:
Create a target camera () in the top viewport and apply ( ) the following parameters:
Right-click on the Perspective view and press ‘c’ in the keyboard to change it to camera view. Move the camera inside the box to get a view like in the picture below.
Open Material Editor () and create the material for the warehouse:
Apply diffuse and bump maps:
# Iterations: 20
Color #1: Black
Dark Gray ( RGB 50, 50, 50 )
Color #1: Light gray ( RGB 180, 180, 180 )
Color #2: Black
And here is how the rendered interior with default lighting looks like:
Now it’s the time to create the lighting. Let’s start with the main light source (sun). Create Mental Ray area spot () in the front viewport. Place the spot light according to the picture below. Modify the spotlight ( ) according to the following parameters:
( Tip: If you’d like to make the light more directional, just move the spotlight farther away from the warehouse. )
Render the image to see the lighting:
At the moment we can’t even see the windows because the background color is black (by default). Let’s go to the environment settings () and change the background color:
Render the scene to see the effect:
Now that we can see the windows, let’s apply a glow around them. Apply Glare Camera Shader () Just turn the output shader on, the glare shader should be selected by default. Render the image again to see the difference. ( )
(The glow effect might seem really strong at the moment but in my opinion it works well in the final image. You can adjust the strength of the glow by adjusting the brightness of the glow shader or by adjusting the glare shader itself.)
At the moment we have only the spot light (sun). The image is very dark and there is no indirect light. Create a skylight () to simulate the indirect light coming from the windows. Apply ( ) the following settings to the skylight:
Render the scene to see the lighting:
Some light reaches the ceiling over the windows but as a whole the image still looks about the same. We need to drive more light inside the warehouse. Fortunately there is an easy way to do just that. Go to the right viewport and create two sky portals () that are slightly larger than the windows and position them immediately outside the openings. Apply ( ) the following parameters to the sky portals:
( Sky portal needs a skylight to work. It gathers existing sky lighting into the interior scene. The arrow shows the direction of light flow. ) Let’s render the scene to see how the sky portals affect the lighting:
Let’s add bounced light to the equation to see if it makes any difference. Go to the Final Gather setup and apply the following settings ():
Render the scene to see the effect of indirect illumination.
Now there is noticeably more light inside. If you look carefully you can even see each corner of the room.
Let’s make the image more interesting by adding some volumetric light rays coming from the windows. Go to the Atmosphere settings () and add Volume light effect:
Let’s render to see the effect of the volume light:
The Volume light seems to bring too much light into the scene. Let’s fix it by decreasing the Final Gather multiplier:
Let’s also adjust the sampling settings to get a more polished render. Go to the render setup and increase antialiasing quality by increasing Mental Ray’s sampling values ():
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading!