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05/25/11 3DS MAX Mental Ray

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3DS MAX Mental Ray

04.08.2008 Category: 3D (Rendering)
The purpose of this tutorial is to familiarize
you with the following:

Working with Mental Ray in 3DS MAX

Rendering diamonds with Mental Ray
(picture 1)

I have prepared a simple 3DS MAX scene

for this Mental Ray tutorial. In my scene
there are two diamond models on a Plane
object (picture 2) and a camera. 3DS MAX
is on default settings and at the moment
the Scanline Renderer produces picture 3.

Picture 1. This tutorial explains how to render diamonds in 3D

Studio MAX.

Prepare a Scene

I use my diamond models but you could just use the Hedra primitive (Create > Extended Primitives > Hedra) to
create some jewels in seconds. Just create two Hedra objects and place them on a Plane object to create
something similar to my scene. Change the color of the Plane object to white. Create a camera and make sure that Second Picture is devoted to
you don't see the edges of the Plane object
in the view. Change the size of the Plane original tutorials about 3D
object when necessary. graphics, Photoshop,
If you would like to create a 3D diamond Photography and Web Design.
model I suggest the following: use Google
to find diamond blueprints and model a
diamond using poly modeling techniques.

Picture 2. Two diamond models on a Plane object. This is the

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Picture 3.This is how diamond models look lik e when rendered with
the default settings of the Scanline Renderer.

Mental Ray Renderer

Let's change the renderer from Scanline Renderer to Mental Ray renderer:

A. Open rendering settings (Rendering > Render...).

B. Expand Assign Renderer group on Common tab.
C. Change the Production renderer from Default Scanline renderer to mental ray renderer

You could try to render an image. At this stage the Mental Ray rendering will look almost exactly like the rendering
with the Scanline renderer. Actually the Mental Ray rendering looks a little worse because of the jagged edges.

Mental Ray Material

Let's start by creating Mental Ray material

for the diamonds. Open material editor
(Rendering > Material Editor...) and
assign the first material to the diamonds.
The goal is to create a material that would
be suitable for a diamond. Let's make the
following adjustments to the material:

Main Material Parameters

A. Change the material from Standard to
Arch & Design. Arch & Design is a very
powerful Mental Ray material which can
be applied to many different situations
(For example ambient occlusion is
achieved with Arch & Design material) Picture 4. Mental Ray's Arch & Design is a solid basis for rendering

B. Change the Transparency to 1,0 to diamonds.

make the material fully transparent

C. Change the IOR to 2,42. This is actually a value that 3DS MAX suggests for a diamond in a tool tip
D. Change the Reflectivity to 1,0 to make the material fully reflective.

A. Select: By IOR (fresnel reflections) Render the scene. The rendering should look similar to picture 4.

Mental Ray Lights

Illumination plays a big part in diamond

rendering. Luckily you can use standard
3DS MAX lights also with Mental Ray.
Let's illuminate the whole scene by using

A. Create Skylight (Create > Lights >

Standard Lights > Skylight)
B. Change the color of the Skylight to pure
white. (By default the color of the
Skylight is light blue).
C. In order to use Skylight with Mental
Ray, you have to use Final Gather.
Enable Final Gather (Rendering >…/mental_ray_in_… 2/5
05/25/11 3DS MAX Mental Ray
Render... > Indirect Illumination > Picture 5. Diamonds rendered with Sk ylight and Mental Ray (Final
Final Gather > Enable Final Gather) Gather enabled).

Render the scene with Mental Ray to see

how your diamonds look like. The rendering should look similar to picture 5.

Diamonds look already better but there are still some problems:

Diamonds are too black

There are no specular highlights

Let's fix these issues to achieve more realistic Mental Ray rendering.


Change the background color to pure white

(Rendering > Environment...). Render
the scene with Mental Ray to see the
effect of changing the background color. As
a result the diamonds are brighter. The
rendering should now look like in picture 6.

Picture 6. Diamonds rendered in 3D Studio MAX with white

back ground.

More Reflections

Now the surrounding is pure white color and therefore the diamonds look little too bright and flat. Let's create some
dark objects around them to achieve more
interesting reflections:

A. Create a grid of 25 boxes like in picture

7 and place them on top of the
B. Change the color of the boxes to black

Render a test image. Now the rendering

should look similar to picture 8. Diamonds
should look more real.

Picture 7. Black boxes are placed on top of the diamonds to

produce nice reflections.

Picture 8. Reflections of black boxes can be seen in diamonds.

Specular Highlights

There are some pretty light spots in the diamonds but real specular highlights are still missing. When you see
diamonds in real life there are always several light sources around that produce specular highlights. Let's add more…/mental_ray_in_… 3/5
05/25/11 3DS MAX Mental Ray
light sources to our scene:

A. Create an Omni light and make 7

instance copies of it. Now you have 8
Omni lights.
B. Change the multiplier of the Omni lights
to 0,2 (Omni >
Intensity/Color/Attenuation >
C. Turn the diffuse effect off so that the lights affect only the specular characteristic of the materials (Omni >
Advanced effect > Affect Surfaces >
D. Place the Omni lights randomly around the diamonds like in picture 9. Just make sure that light comes from
many different directions. Avoid
symmetrical arrangement. Picture 9. Omni lights placed randomly around the diamonds.

Make a test renderings with Mental Ray

and adjust the placing of the lights if
necessary. The rendering should be similar
to picture 10.

Picture 10. Specular highlights are created by the Omni lights.

Mental Ray Caustics

Let's increase the realism by using Mental Ray to create caustics effect with the diamonds. Caustics have to be
enabled in three separate locations: lights,
geometry and Mental Ray rendering

A. Select all Omni lights and all diamonds. Right click on them and select Object Properties... from the menu.
Select mental ray tab and turn
'Generate Caustics' on.
B. Go to Mental Ray rendering settings and enable caustics (Rendering > Render... > Indirect Illumination >
Caustics and Global Illumination
(GI) > Caustics > Enable).

Make a test rendering using Mental Ray to see how the caustics look like. If you can't see any effect your geometry
is probably too large. Try changing the diameter of the diamond to around 0,1. (I use metric system and the

diameter of my diamond is about 0,07.

Picture 11. By default my Mental Ray caustics effect is far too
That's a huge diamond;) By default my
caustics look like in picture 11.)

Adjusting Mental Ray Caustics

At the moment the caustics effect is far too

strong. Let's make a few adjustments to it:

A. Change the Multiplier to 0,03.

(Rendering > Render... > Indirect
Illumination > Caustics and Global
Illumination (GI) > Caustics >
B. Change 'Average Caustic Photons per
Light' to 40000 to make caustics more
defined. (Rendering > Render... >
Indirect Illumination > Caustics and
Global Illumination (GI) > Light
Properties > Average Caustic
Photons per Light) Picture 12. Diamonds rendered with Mental Ray in 3DS MAX.
Render the final image. Now the Mental…/mental_ray_in_… 4/5
05/25/11 3DS MAX Mental Ray
Ray rendering should look similar to picture 12.

If you are rendering a large picture I recommend increasing the sampling quality (Rendering > Render... >
Renderer > Sampling Quality) by increasing Samples per Pixel minimum and maximum values a few steps.

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