Creating Product Shots in 3ds Max
Illustration by Richard Downs

Creating Product Shots in 3ds Max

with Aaron F. Ross

Video: Self-illuminated image-based lighting

The last steps to adding self-illuminated image-based lighting are Double-click it to load it into We want to assign it to this, sphere so select this sphere.
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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

Self-illuminated image-based lighting

The last steps to adding self-illuminated image-based lighting are to build the material and to adjust our exposure settings. Let's go to the Material Editor. And we've got this bitmap left over from before. We're not going to use that, we'll just move that off to the side. We'll make a new Arch and Design material by dragging that into the view. Double-click it to load it into the parameters editor, and rename it environment. We want to assign it to this, sphere so select this sphere. And with the material highlighted, click on Assign Material to Selection.

Just to be on the safe side, we can set the diffuse level down to 0. Just in case we decide to add lighting to this scene later. We don't want that sphere to be illuminated by scene lights. So set the diffuse level down to 0. And now we'll add a diffuse map so we'll have some visual feedback in the viewport as we rotate that sphere around to change the placement of the environment in our reflections. Scroll down to the bottom and open up General Maps. And where it says Diffuse Color, click on the button that says None.

And double-click bitmap in the Material Map Browser, and you get the Select Bitmap Image File dialog. Select the HDR file, and click Open. And in the HDRI Load Settings, just make sure that Default Exposure is enabled and click OK. And now that's been applied. If we want to see it in our viewports, what we should do is, double-click on the bitmap node here, make sure it's highlighted, and then turn on Show Shaded Material in Viewport.

So click on that. And if you do it with that bitmap node highlighted, then no matter what settings you have in the material node, that texture will always display on the surface of the object. Just make sure you have bitmap highlighted when you click on Show Shaded Material in Viewport. Okay, so now we want to just adjust the tiling parameters on this. Let's turn off Use Real World Scale and set the U tiling to 2, because we want to make sure that the tiling stretches correctly.

Remember this image is actually only a hemisphere. Let me deselect that. Go to Wireframe view, and click in the view so we can see, it's a hemispherical projection, it's only half a sphere. So if the tiling were set to 1, then it would stretch across the entire sphere, and it would be elongated. We want that tiling set to 2. Additionally, just like before, we want to get a little bit of blur. Set the blur offset to 0.01.

And you may or may not see that in the viewport. If you don't see it, don't panic, it doesn't mean that anything's wrong. It's just, sometimes, you don't get to see it. But it will render fine in our reflections. So blur offset to 0.01 and that's fine. I'm going to rotate that sphere around the Z-axis to turn it. And the idea is, I want the sun to shine directly on the surface of the model. The only way to really know is to do a full rendering. I've done that already, so I know in advance what I need to do here. I want to set the Z-axis rotation to negative 67 degrees here.

And additionally, if you needed to, you could rotate this in any direction. We could turn this any old way we needed to. Which is something we cannot do with a spherical environment. Okay, I'll undo that. I just want to have the rotation values X 0, Y 0, and Z negative 67. Cool, so now that's positioned, and we can turn on self-illumination. Go back to the Material Editor. We want to make the connection. So we want to connect that bitmap to the self-illumination. So here's the bitmap.

Drag that down to Self Illumination Map. Make that connection. And then additionally, we need to turn it on. Double-click on the Material node and find the Self-illumination Glow rollout. Open that up. Turn it on. And here we want to turn this switch here that says Physical Units. If it says unit list and we need to make sure it says physical units, because this acts more like photometrics in mental ray. And I've tested this already. I know I need to increase this quite a bit, because I've got an exposure value of 9.

I'm going to set that up to 15,000 physical units. Okay, and the last thing we really need to remember to do, is to enable this switch that says, Illuminates the Scene when using FG. That needs to be on, if we're going to get any diffuse illumination on the models. Very important. That needs to be enabled. Cool, so we've got all of our materials set up. We've got our sphere rotated the way we want. We can go ahead and freeze it now. Go to the Manage Layers dialog and freeze that environment layer.

And now we can go to the exposure settings, Rendering > Exposure Control. And unlike with the environment mapping, we need to disable Process Background in Environment Maps. That has to be off. I'm going to leave the exposure value at 9, that's fine. But scroll down, and again, unlike the image based lighting with environment mapping, here we need to be in physical units. So turn that on once again. Okay, now the moment of truth, we've done all those settings, we can go ahead and do a render.

Okay, we've got our rendering finished, we can see there's actually a little bit of an issue here, which is, we're getting a reflection. There's one little parameter that I forgot to turn off, man, you know, it happens sometimes. Just back in the Material Editor, we want to just make sure that our reflectivity on that self-illuminating material is set to 0. Light was actually bouncing off the surface of that self-illuminated sphere and illuminating the watch here. So that's been turned off now. Okay, there's the result of our image based lighting from a self-illuminated piece of geometry.

And why don't we compare that to the version that we did using the traditional environment mapping technique. So here we have a side-by-side comparison. On the left, we have image based lighting from a piece of physical geometry, an environment sphere that we've modeled. And on the right, we've got a traditional image based lighting workflow, using environment mapping and a skylight. And as you can see, they look very similar. And that's because I worked hard to try to make that happen by adjusting the various parameters, especially the self-illumination level.

In the end, it's a matter of personal choice. I actually prefer to do it this way with a piece of geometry, because it frees me up and I can see what I'm doing a lot better. Cool, so that's how we do image based lighting in 3ds Max.

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