Join Aaron F. Ross for an in-depth discussion in this video Adjusting highlights, part of Creating Product Shots in 3ds Max.
We've created a good metal material, but we're not quite getting the look that we want. Let's take a look at that once again. I've got it stored in the rendered frame window. And you can see, it's looking a bit flat. Let's clone that window off, so we can compare it to our new renderings. The issue here really is not the material but the lighting. We look in the top view, there are a couple of things we can do to improve this. One is to move these lights farther away and another is to change the position of the environment dome so that more of that dome is reflecting in the surface of the watch body.
We'll need to unfreeze those layers. Go to the Layers window and unfreeze the environment and unfreeze the lights layers. We move the environment forward a little bit. Select it, grab the move tool, and then just move it so that more of that surface is going to be in front of the watch body. And remember that were not casting shadows or anything, so it doesn't matter that these lights may end up behind the back of the environment. The environment dome is on a layer that has cast and receive shadows disabled.
Okay, now for the lights. We want to back out a little bit in the front view here, as well. And we want to move these lights back a bit and try to maintain the angle that they're currently at. And an easy thing to do to check the distance between the light and its target is to simply go to the Modify panel. And right here, you will see the distance between the light and its target. Let's move this out to about 30 centimeters away from its target. And having moved it back in the top view, I've changed the angle here, so it's more, sort of, coming in at a flat angle.
So I want to compensate for that by moving it up slightly in the top view. And likewise, with the other key light, we want to bring that back until it's about 30 centimeters away. And also, move it up a little bit in the top view. Okay. And there's one last thing that we can do as well, which is to increase the intensity of the reflections in the self-illuminated environment material. And we'll need to go back into the Material Editor. And you might already still have it in the material editor, if you dolly back with the wheel. Probably still have the environment material there.
You can double-click on that to get at its parameters. If it's not still there, then you can scroll down into your scene materials. Remember this. You've got scene materials and you can drag this in and when you're prompted choose Instance. All right. Now the attribute that we want to play with here is under Luminance. We have the choice of unit list for this field or physical units. And if we choose physical units and set it to the same value of 4,000, it's actually going to brighten it up a bit. So we'll choose Physical Units.
And it defaults to 1500. We're going to turn that up to 4,000. Cool. All right. So we made a bunch of changes. We've moved the lights out. We've moved the environment forward and we've brightened the environment. And let's do another render. Okay, as you can see, that's made a difference. We're seeing more contrast here on the surface, and we can compare that to our previous render. Open up that cloned window, and here it is before we made the changes and after.
So we're getting much better contrast there. Now we could change this more. I mean, this is now a time when you would start, sort of, fine tuning the look. For example, we could, you know, move the lights slightly. And that might have a profound effect. You know, just moving it a little bit in one direction or another could actually affect this quite a lot. And then, one last thing I'll show you, is that if you change the size of the light, that's also going to change the size of the highlights. So if you want smaller more focused highlights, then you can go in to the area light parameters.
Remember, we previously set the radius to be 20 centimeters. If I bring this down to, let's say, one centimeter, it should be an extreme change. I'll do that for both of the lights just to demonstrate the process. The smaller the area light is, the more focused the highlights will be. And we'll do another test render. As you can see now, with smaller area lights, we're getting much sharper highlights and much sharper shadows as well. This is not actually the look that I'm going for, but I just wanted to demonstrate to you that, you know, changing the size of that area light is going to affect the render quite a lot.
In fact, I am going to set those back to 20 centimeters on whole. Okay, and the take away from this is that even if you have good materials, you also have to have good lighting if you want to have a successful rendering. So, in fact, you can never really separate materials and lighting. They always have to work together. Okay. And in the next movie, we will take a look at just varying those highlights a little bit by adding a bump map.
Want to learn how to create the same effect with Maya? Check out Creating Product Shots in Maya.
- 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