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In 3ds Max 2011 Essential Training, author Aaron F. Ross demonstrates how to use this top-tier application for digital content creation, widely used in diverse industries such as architecture, industrial design, motion pictures, games and virtual worlds. This course covers modeling with polygons, curves, and subdivision surfaces, defining surface properties with materials and maps, setting up cameras and lights, animating objects, and final output rendering. Exercise files accompany the course.
To get convincing results with the rendering, I am going to want to enable shadows for this key light, or the spotlight here. So, if I do a quick rendering of this now, you'll see it without any shadows. What I'd like to achieve here is to get a shadow projected on that backdrop. Okay. So, I'll select my spotlight. In the Modify panel, you'll see General Parameters, and one section there is Shadows and Lights. Shadows are turned off by default. So, I'll go ahead and enable that.
Then what I want to do is view this in an ActiveShade view. So, I'll go over here to Camera001 and click on that label and turn on ActiveShade. So, now we are seeing a default shadow projected on the wall. Now, the shadow is completely black, and that's what I expect at this point, because I haven't added any fill lights, and I haven't adjusted the color of the shadow. So, I am going to leave the color of the shadow alone, and I'll fill that in with some fill lights. That's a better way of doing it.
I can also enable shadows in the standard Viewport, not just in the ActiveShade Viewport. So, if I have Hardware Shading turned on, I can enable shadows as well. So, let's do that. In the Shading mode menu here and click on that and go to Lighting and Shadows > Enable Shadows. Once again, that's going to be a hardware-dependent. So, if your hardware supports these features, then you'll see shadows projected. That's just an approximate shadow. It's not going to be what you see in the final rendering.
You can see it's kind of blocky here. If I move the light around, you'll see that the shadow is moving as well. When I release the mouse, then my ActiveShade View will update too. There are several different types of shadows in 3ds Max. The default is something called the Shadow Map. That's a pixel-based shadow. We'll look at fine-tuning it. But pixel-based shadows can be problematic if you are not careful because, you might end up with some pretty jagged- looking, or aliased, shadows that exhibits some kind of funky mosaicing.
The other options you've got here, the main one that you look at is Ray Traced Shadows. So, I'll enable Ray Traced Shadows there. I might need to update, or reinitialize my ActiveShade View. It looks pretty similar. Ray Traced Shadows are a little bit slower. But in some regards they are better because they are vector-based. That means you won't have to worry about any strange pixelation effects. It's always going to create a pretty sharp edge shadow. So, actually let's do a full render of this so you can see.
You see, it takes a little bit longer with the Ray Traced Shadows. You are getting a very sharp edge. So, I'll change this up. We'll take it back to Shadow Maps, and let's clone this window. So, this is a Ray Traced Shadow. We'll render again with the Shadow Map. You'll see it's softer. So, the default Ray Traced Shadows are always hard-edged, and Shadow Maps you can make them soft if you want to. The big limitation of Shadow Maps is that they do not respect transparency of materials.
So, if I put a transparent material on this object, my shadows would still be 100% black. That's with Shadow Maps. But with Ray Traced Shadows, it does respect transparency. So, that's a better option if you've got transparent objects. There are couple of others here, but the only ones we really want to care about right now are Ray Traced, Shadow Map, and Area Shadows. We will be looking at Area Shadows later. So, that's the basic difference between the two main types of shadows: Shadow Maps are pixel-based and Ray Traced are vector-based.
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