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Creating virtual product shots reduces the need for photography. But those shots need to be accurately shaded, lighted, and rendered to seem realistic. 3ds Max can help. It's a powerful application for design visualization. In this course, you'll learn to shade, light, and render a product shot in 3ds Max. Aaron F. Ross leads you through the entire production workflow, starting with a prebuilt CAD model. Once the model is imported and the scene is organized for 3ds Max, Aaron shows how to create Arch & Design materials, construct several different lighting setups, render in mental ray, and color correct in Adobe After Effects. Explore the power of 3ds Max to present your product renderings in their best light.
Want to learn how to create the same effect with Maya? Check out Creating Product Shots in Maya.
Finally, we're ready to build up the rest of our layers. We want to create another composition starting from the indirect illumination. Select that in the project window and right click and choose, New Comp from Selection. And then select it once again in the project window and press enter, and call this master comp. And we want to make sure that we add the appropriate effects layers. So we can double-click on Exposure. Now that's been added.
We can set that to whatever. We can set this to maybe a minus five right now. Can come back and play with that later. And we'll add the rest of the layers as well. We've got the direct illumination, drag that in. And double click exposure, set that down as well, maybe negative 11. And for the blending mode, down here for the diffuse direct illumination, we'll choose add. And now we're adding the diffuse color to the final gather or the indirect illumination. Continuing on, now we want to add the specular component which is in a precomposed layer.
So we've got specular plus reflect, and we can bring that in as well. Drop that on top and for that blending mode, once again we'll choose add. And now we're starting to stack this up. Now, we've also rendered the ambient occlusion. And we want to have the ambient occlusion affect all three of these layers. So we'll bring that in next. Studio lighting, AO exr. Drag that in over the top. And our blending mode this time is going to be multiply. Anywhere it's white it's going to let that color show through. And anywhere it's black it's going to block the light coming in.
And we can see the difference if we turn this on and off. So that's with no ambient occlusion. And that's with the ambient occlusion enabled. And if we want we can control the contrast of that ambient occlusion. However the exposure method is not going to be the best way to do that. Probably better to use a levels effect or maybe a curves effect. Let's add a levels effect. With the AO layer selected, double click on levels, and then we can adjust the input black point here. And as we do that, we're enhancing the ambient occlusion effect.
We bring this up a lot we can see a really extreme example of that. Probably don't want it that extreme. Probably somewhere around 0.3 or whatever. And now we can turn this layer on and off to see how were blocking the light coming from specular direct illumination and indirect illumination. Alright, cool. So we've also got our refraction layer. I'm going to bring that in too. Select it. Drag that into the top. Refractions are different because we can't really split refractions off to separate diffuse and specular components.
So if you're looking through a refractive object, you cannot actually separate what's behind that object into different channels, like specular and reflection and so on. So it's an all or nothing kind of deal, unfortunately. For that refraction channel, we also want to choose Add, as the blend mode. And we do want to add an exposure effect to that, too. So double click on exposure. Give it an exposure value of maybe one or so. And then finally we've got our shadows. So bring that into, drop that over the top of everything.
And in this case, we could actually just leave the blending mode at normal. Because, remember how the shadow works, it's actually just a black layer that has an alpha channel. And if we want, we can take a look at that, we double-click on this, it'll load into the footage window. We can examine this once again just to refresh our memory. Here we can choose what we see in this footage window. We can just choose the Alpha, and you can see that its RGB color is black throughout. And the Alpha is white in certain areas that's allowing that black color to show through.
Okay, cool. Set this back to RGB. Go back to our comp window, by double clicking. And yeah, so we can turn the shadows on and off so you can see that effect. If the shadows are too strong, we can dim down their opacity a little bit. Open up the Shadow layer. Open up Transform. And you'll see Opacity here, and you can click drag on this to the left. Maybe dim that down a little bit if it's too strong. If you want those shadows to be stronger, you could add a levels adjustment to it or various other things to kind of fine tune the look. But, I think in this case, I want to have a lower opacity.
Maybe an opacity of about 40 or so. Okay, collapse that back in. And we're looking pretty good here. I think the last thing I would want to do with this is maybe go back to my specular and reflection, and adjust the balance between those two. And so that I can see the end result here on the screen, I'm going to lock this composition window, so that we're always seeing the master comp output. And then go over to specular and reflect over here, and we can play around with the exposure on each one of these two layers. Or reflections, maybe I want the reflections to be a little bit stronger.
So I would increase the exposure a bit. Maybe negative 10.5. And maybe I'll want the specular to be a little bit less strong, so I'll select that layer and set the exposure to maybe negative 11.5. Remember, lower numbers result in a dimmer layer. And so now we've given a lot more emphasis to the reflections rather than the specular highlights. So now that we've got all of these in layers with exposure effects and levels effects on all of them, we can go back and forth between all of these and adjust their various levels in order to fine tune the look, or maybe match it to existing footage.
When we're finished of course, we'll need to output this. We'll want to go up to Composition > Save Frame As > File, and then save it into our after effects folder here. And, we'll save it as a png file. And we'll call this one render_elements.png, click save. Remember previously that we set up our default output module to be png with srgb color profile embedded.
And we can go ahead and click render. And that's finished, and then we can import it back into our project, so we can look at it. Right-click and choose Import File. And then go to our after effects folder, click on Renderelements.png. Here it is, and we can double click it. And that's the final output. It's been saved to an 8-bit file. Excellent. That concludes our chapter on rendering and compositing. And it also wraps up our course on creating product shots in 3ds Max.
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