This 3ds Max tutorial covers the creation of a fresh grassland pictures. Photo is used as background and 3d grass is created with a scatter object. The final touch will be the sun which will be created with lens effects. I am using 3ds Max 2010 but this should be doable with many older versions as well.

Step 1 Choosing the Background

First choose your favorite sky photo for the background. You can of course use mine if you want to. Click on the image below to download the sky with higher resolution.

Deep blue sky and clouds

Add the sky image to background in 3ds Max:

  1. Open Environment settings ( Rendering > Environment… )
  2. Click ‘None’ button in Common Parameters
  3. Double click ‘Bitmap’ and browse for your sky image

Setting background image in 3ds max

Now the sky image appears on the background when you render.

Step 2 Grassland Hills

Next we’ll create the hilly ground:

Create a Plane in the top viewport ( Create panel > Geometry > Standard Primitives > Plane ). Go to the Modify panel and apply the following parameters:

  • Length: 47
  • Width: 173
  • Length Segs: 100
  • Width Segs: 100

Select the Plane and add Bend modifier to it (Make a selection > Modify panel > Modifier List > Object-Space Modifiers > Bend). Go to the Modify panel and apply the following parameters:

  • Angle: 80
  • Direction -90
  • Bend Axis: Y

Bend modifier in action

Select the Plane and add Wave modifier to it ( Make a selection > Modify panel > Modifier List > Object-Space Modifiers > Wave ). Go to the Modify panel and apply the following parameters:

  • Amplitude 1: 4
  • Amplitude 2: 4
  • Wave Length: 125
  • Activate Gizmo sub-object level in the Wave modifier. Go to the front viewport and rotate the gizmo 90 degrees about the Y axis. You can also move it along the X axis to determine the exact location of the hills. For the sake of this tutorial it’s not required to get exactly the same kind of effect. The idea is just to create some nice hills.

Using wave modifier

Step 3 Single Steam of 3D Grass

Next we’ll create the grass. First we create a single steam of grass and then we multiply it with the help of a Scatter object. Create a rectangle in the left viewport ( Create panel > Shapes > Splines > Rectangle ). Go to the modify panel and apply the following parameters:

  • Length: 7,78
  • Width: 0,2

Rectangle in 3ds max

Use the Line tool ( Create panel > Shapes > Splines > Line ) to draw as big triangle as you can inside the rectangle. See picture below. (The idea of the rectangle was just to get the size right).

drawing grass

Delete the rectangle. Next we’ll add some vertices to the object and bend it. Go to the Modify panel and active the Segment sub-object level and select the two vertical segments like in picture below.

Selecting segments

Divide the segments vertically to 5 parts. Picture below explains how to do this. First enter 5 and then click ‘Divide’.

Dividing segments with edit poly

Deactivate Segment sub-object level, go to the front viewport, and add Bend modifier to the Line. Apply the following parameters:

  • Angle: 58
  • Direction: 90
  • Bend Axis: Y

Bending grass in 3ds max

Activate Center sub-object level in the Bend modifier and move the center of the modifier to the bottom of the line like in picture below.

3d grass

Step 4 3D Grass with the Help of a Scatter Object

Let’s create the Scatter object. Select the steam of grass you just created. Turn the grass into a Scatter object ( Create Panel > Compound Objects > Scatter ). Apply the following settings to the Scatter object:

  • Pick Distribution Object
    • Object: The hills you created earlier
  • Scatter Objects
    • Duplicates: 30000 ( Warning, this will generate 330 000 polygons. If you are low on memory you might want to try smaller values first. Furthermore you might want to increase this value if you’ll create a very high resolution render. If your workflow gets sticky because of the high poly grass you could decrease this value for now and increase it just before the final rendering. )
    • Perpendicular: OFF
    • Distribute Using: Random Faces
  • Transforms
    • Rotation X: 25
    • Rotation Y: 180
    • Rotation Z: 25
    • Scaling Y: 25
  • Display
    • Hide Distribution Object: ON

grass with scatter

Step 5 Grass Material in 3ds Max

Now we’re ready to create and apply the material for both the hills and the grass. Open the Material Editor ( Rendering > Material Editor… ) and apply the the following:

  1. Select both objects and apply a new material to them
  2. 2-Sided: ON
  3. Diffuse: Green (R86 G167 B0)
  4. Specular Level: 30
  5. Glossiness: 0
  6. Soften: 1,0

grass material

Create a camera ( Create panel > Cameras > Target ) in the top viewport and place it according to picture below. Activate the Perspective view and turn it into a camera view by pressing C in keyboard. Go to rendering settings ( Rendering > Render Setup > Common Parameters > Output Size ) and match your rendering resolution with the resolution of the background photo. Render your 3ds Max grass and you’ll get something like this:

3ds max grass

Step 7 The Sun

Now is time to create the sun.

Create an Omni light ( Create > Lights > Standard > Omni ). Go to the modify panel and apply the following parameters:

  • Click General Parameters > Exclude…
  • New dialog appears, just select ‘Include’ in the top of the dialog and click OK. Now the Omni light doesn’t illuminate any object.

Add Lens Effects to the Omni light:

  • Open Effects panel ( Rendering > Effects… )
  • Click ‘Add…’ button and choose Lens Effects from the list. Click ‘OK’.
  • Click ‘Pick Light’ and select the Omni light
  • Minimize ‘Lens Effects Globals’ section
  • Add Glow and Ray effects with the following parameters:

Lens effects settings for sun

Render your grasslands and you’ll see the shining sun!

Grasslands and sun

As soon as the first light is created the default illumination of 3ds max turns off. Additionally we modified the include/exclude parameters so that the omni doesn’t illuminate anything. That’s why the 3d grass appears black.

Step 6 Illuminate Your 3ds Max Grass

The final step of this tutorial is to create a more interesting illumination. Create Target Directional Light ( Create panel > Lights > Standard > Target Direct ). Go to the Modify panel and apply following parameters to the light:

  • General Parameters
    • Shadows: ON
  • Intensity/Color/Attenuation
    • Intensity: 0,7
  • Directional Parameters
    • Hotspot/Beam: 92
    • Falloff/Field: 94
  • Shadow Map Params
    • Size: 4096

Create a Skylight ( Create panel > Lights > Skylight ) Go to the modify panel and apply the following parameters to it:

  • Multiplier 0,4
  • Sky Color: light yellow (R255, G255, B221)

Place the target light according to the picture below.

light placement in 3d max

Activate Light Tracer ( Rendering > Light Tracer… ) and apply the following settings:

GI with light tracer

Now just render the image and you’re done. Beware, the rendering might take a long time.

3d grass

Ok, that’s it for now. Let’s continue in the comments!

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