Creating Product Shots in 3ds Max
Illustration by Richard Downs

Creating Product Shots in 3ds Max

with Aaron F. Ross

Video: Adding ambient-occlusion nodes

Ambient occlusion is a rendering effect that's designed to enhance realism, Open the Material Editor.
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  1. 5m 50s
    1. Welcome
      1m 1s
    2. Using the exercise files
      4m 49s
  2. 32m 32s
    1. Setting the Customize UI and Defaults Switcher
      1m 43s
    2. Choosing units and grid options
      1m 13s
    3. Importing a CAD file
      5m 12s
    4. Managing the scene hierarchy
      7m 46s
    5. Managing display layers
      3m 52s
    6. Working with Body objects
      2m 53s
    7. Modeling an environment sphere
      4m 17s
    8. Creating a camera
      2m 44s
    9. Framing the shot
      2m 52s
  3. 16m 46s
    1. Creating mental ray area spot lights
      4m 31s
    2. Creating photometric spot lights
      5m 9s
    3. Setting exposure for studio lighting
      3m 9s
    4. Controlling Final Gather
      3m 57s
  4. 1h 1m
    1. Creating Arch & Design materials
      7m 26s
    2. Creating an environment material
      6m 14s
    3. Enabling self-illumination
      5m 33s
    4. Applying procedural textures
      7m 20s
    5. Working with reflectivity
      7m 10s
    6. Creating a metal material
      4m 33s
    7. Adjusting highlights
      5m 4s
    8. Varying highlights with a bump map
      6m 43s
    9. Working with transparency
      4m 44s
    10. Adding ambient-occlusion nodes
      6m 40s
  5. 37m 46s
    1. Understanding image-based lighting
      2m 42s
    2. Creating a skylight
      2m 10s
    3. Adding a spherical environment map
      2m 51s
    4. Controlling bitmap coordinates
      4m 5s
    5. Setting exposure for image-based lighting
      7m 36s
    6. Adjusting materials
      5m 38s
    7. Modeling environment geometry
      5m 42s
    8. Self-illuminated image-based lighting
      7m 2s
  6. 50m 6s
    1. Controlling mental ray Sampling Quality
      5m 18s
    2. Rendering to the high-dynamic-range EXR format
      5m 52s
    3. Defining After Effects color settings
      4m 0s
    4. Adjusting the image
      10m 4s
    5. Setting up render elements
      7m 51s
    6. Creating ambient-occlusion materials
      6m 9s
    7. Layering specularity and reflections
      3m 47s
    8. Adding all render-element layers
      7m 5s
  7. 49s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Creating Product Shots in 3ds Max
3h 25m Intermediate May 15, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Importing solid models as 3ds Max body objects
  • Working with the scene layout, hierarchy, and display layers
  • Building Arch & Design materials
  • Creating area and photometric lights
  • Setting exposure control
  • Optimizing indirect illumination with Final Gather
  • Image-based lighting with high dynamic range files
  • Lighting with self-illuminated geometry
  • Rendering to high dynamic range
  • Saving render passes with Render Elements
  • Adding ambient occlusion
  • Layering and color correction in After Effects
3D + Animation CAD
3ds Max
Aaron F. Ross

Adding ambient-occlusion nodes

Ambient occlusion is a rendering effect that's designed to enhance realism, by creating a darker area in surfaces that are close together. And the idea here is that ambient light, or indirect illumination, doesn't reach into the cracks and crevices between things very well. And so you get what are known as contact shadows, where it's darker in those crackers. Or where two surfaces are really close together. That's what ambient occlusion is all about.

And we're going to do that in this exercise, but we're going to do it in a kind of special customized way. Because there are many ways of adding ambient occlusion. And one is directly in the arch and design material. Let's take a quick look at that. Open the Material Editor. And we want to go to our, watch body material. Bring that over, kind of separate from everything. And to double-click on it. Get it's parameters up. And if you open up Special Effects, you'll see Ambient Occlusion. If we enable this, then the final gather indirect illumination will be blocked, based upon this distances.

If two surfaces are closer together than ten centimeters in this case, then they will receive less final gather information. So, it will be darker there. And the darkness, or the amount of blocking ,is controlled by the shadow color. Normally, if you're going to use this, you would set that shadow color to black, to enhance that effect to its maximum, and set the max distance to something reasonable like a centimeter or whatever. However, in this case I want to create what's called a Dirt Map.

And I can use ambient occlusion, to block not just the indirect illumination from final gather, but also the direct illumination from lights, and also the highlights and reflections. So I'm going to disable ambient occlusion within the arch and design material, and I'm going to create the effect from scratch. In your Map section here, in the Material Map Browser, you'll see there's a Mental Ray Map section, and here we have Ambient / Reflective occlusion.

Drag that over to create it, and we want to connect it to the Diffuse Color Map. So, click and drag over to diffuse color map. We go up to the top of our material parameters, you will see there's a lower case m here, next to the diffuse color swatch. That lower case m indicates that something's connected there, but it's not currently active. We need to activate it, scroll down to the bottom, and open up General Maps. And enable Diffuse Color, and now that ambient reflecting occlusion map node is actually affecting the diffuse color.

Okay, so, now to make this a good demonstration, I'm going to change a bunch of parameters. I'm going to change the diffuse level to one, increase that up to its maximum. And just temporally set the reflectivity down to zero. So we can really see the ambient occlusion effect in action. I'll double-click on that node, and I'm going to change these colors. Normally we would just leave these at white and black. I'm going to change these to really extreme colors, so that we can see what's going on with the ambient occlusion effect. I'll set the bright color to bright red.

And I'll set the dark color to bright green. I'll also want to adjust these parameters here. The spread controls the evenness of the effect. If want it to be perfectly even across the surface, we'll set the spread to one, and then the max distance is the size of the effect. I want to set this to a value of one centimeter, here just for demonstration purposes. We'll come back in here and change that again later. All right and finally, just to speed things up a little bit, I'm going to go into Render Setup, and just turn off Final Gather. And tha'll also illustrate that the ambient occlusion effect can exist independent of final gatherer or indirect illumination.

Okay, so, final gather's turned off. I've got really extreme settings here, for the ambient occlusion color, so we can do a test render. Okay, that's a really good illustration of what final gather does. In areas where surfaces are close together, we have a different color. Cool. So now we're going to set this to colors and values that work with our particular scene. I'll re-enable Final Gather and close that Render Setup window. Set the dark color back down to black. No green, no red, no blue. The bright color we want to be, the diffuse color, which is the orange.

So, we'll give it a little bit of green, half green and no blue. So that's the orange color for the diffuse. And then the max distance, I'll set it to a value of 0.3 centimeters. Great. And then, back in the watch body material, double-click on that. Set our diffuse level back to 0.3, and our reflectivity back up to one. And now we're going to be blocking all the light that's reaching the diffuse component. But to give it and even more of an effect, we can also block the reflections and highlights.

To do that, I'll make another ambient occlusion node. Hold down Shift and drag to create a copy, and then, let's just organize our scene here a little bit. Connect this ambient occlusion node, to the reflection color map. And then double click-it. Because we don't want it to be the same color. Remember we want the reflection color to be a little bit less saturated. Go into that bright color swatch. And bring the saturation down a bit to, about 0.9 or so. Maybe a little bit less. 0.8 something.

0.88 or so. Okay, so we've made all those changes. We've connected two ambient occlusion nodes, one to the diffuse color, one to the reflection color. We've got a max distance of 0.03 centimeters, and a spread of one on both, and, we're going to do a test render. Okay. That's looking all right. We've added the ambient occlusion effect, and now we've got a little bit more defined darkness in between the surfaces of things. And that's going to enhance the realism of our final rendering.

And that wraps up our chapter on materials, or product shot.

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