When we install V-Ray as a 3ds Max plug- in, we are adding an awful lot of extra tools and pieces of functionality into what is already a complex and deep piece of software. The 3ds Max application abounds with controls, parameter dialogs, gizmos, tools, and of course it would be very easy for us in all of that mix to somehow misplace some of the V-Ray tools that have been installed and are there waiting for us to use. For this reason we thought it would be a good idea to spend just a few minutes, very quickly, running through the different areas of the 3ds Max UI where we can gain access to V-Ray tools.
The first area that we are going to draw your attention to is easily the largest collection of V-Ray features and controls that can be found in a single area of the 3ds Max UI. These are accessed through the Render Setup dialog. So let's go up to the Main toolbar, click on the icon, and we get that particular dialog popping up for us. As you can see, here we have four tabs housing a whole host of V-Ray tools and controls that we are going to want to work with in our V-Ray rendering sessions. Of course the Common tab remains the same no matter which render engine we are working with.
Another area of the 3ds Max UI that gives us access to lots of V-Ray tools and features is, of course, the Material Editor. So clicking on the Material Editor icon up on the Main toolbar, we get the Compact version of the 3ds Max Material Editor popping up for ourselves. So clicking on the Material Editor icon, we get the Compact version of the 3ds Max Material Editor. Of course you can swap the modes inside of the Modes menu, so we are working with this particular option at this moment in time. And as you can see, we have the promised V-Ray materials already set up inside of the sample slots for ourselves.
And not only that, though, we do get access to a lot of installed material and map types that we can use, not only for creating surface textures, but also for creating different effects inside of our V-Ray rendering session. So if we click on this Get Material icon, that will bring up the Material/Map Browser for us. You can see we have a Materials rollout, we have a Maps rollout. Inside of each we find we have a Standard and V-Ray Adv option that we can choose from. And inside each of these we will find V-Ray tools and controls that we can work with.
Remember, of course, that inside of the Standard rollout we can work with pretty much all of these options when rendering with V-Ray, and that applies to both materials and map types, but you will also notice that there are a number of V-Ray-specific options available inside of these rollouts as well. And, of course, inside of the V-Ray Adv rollouts we get a whole host of material and map types that we can work with. Let's close both of those browsers for ourselves. Let's move across to the right-hand side of the 3ds Max user interface and have a look at the tools and features that can be accessed through 3ds Max's Command panel.
In the Command panel we of course have a number of tabs, each housing functionality, different areas of the 3ds Max application that we can work with. Inside of the default Create tab, we see we have a number of subsections, again, giving us access to tool creation inside of 3ds Max, so light creation, cameras creation, et cetera. If we just stick with the default Geometry section and come across to our dropdown, you can see if we just left- mouse click, right down at the bottom we have a V-Ray entry. Selecting that gives us access to some V-Ray-specific geometric tools, geometric objects that we can create and work with in our scenes.
This method of accessing V-Ray tools is repeated in a number of these subsections. So if we come across to Lights, we can see that we have a V-Ray option inside of that dropdown, so V-Ray-specific Light types. Inside of Cameras we have a V-Ray option. Inside of Helpers we have the same option in there, giving us some very specific V-Ray Helper objects. If we come into the Systems section, we see we have a V-Ray option that gives us access to the V-Ray Stereoscopic Rig.
Now, to demonstrate another area of the 3ds Max Command panel that gives us access to V-Ray tools, I just need to come back to this default Geometry section. We just want to reset back to Standard Primitives, and I am just going to left-mouse click and create a simple box primitive in the scene for myself. So just using the left-mouse and then right-mouse click to end creation. Because I want to jump over now to the Modify tab. Inside of here we can access 3ds Max's modifier list. And if we come all the way down, pretty close to the bottom, we will see that we have this V-Ray Displacement Modifier. Just applying that now allows us to create render time displacement and subdivision on our scene geometry.
If we just delete that out of the scene for ourselves, now coming up to the menu section, we can, for the most part, re-create or mimic the functionality that we've just been demonstrating inside of the Command panel. So for instance, in the Create menu, if we come to this dropdown, you can see inside of the geometry section, we have a V-Ray option. Inside of Lights, inside of Cameras, you can see that same pattern repeating itself as we demonstrated inside of the Command panel. However, in the menu section there is one tool that we gain access to that really we can only use the menu system to pull up for ourselves, and that is found inside of the Tools menu.
You see we have this V-Ray Light Lister. If we just pull that up for ourselves, you can see we have what looks like a familiar tool for those who have used lighting tools inside of 3ds Max, but this is obviously a V-Ray-specific version of the Light Lister. Now, if I just select an empty area of my 3ds Max viewport and right-click, you see we pull up for ourselves the very familiar 3ds Max quad menu system. Now, even in here we can gain access or find V-Ray-specific tools and functionalities.
So down at the bottom of this default quad, you can see we have a number of V-Ray options, one of which is the V-Ray Frame Buffer. Now, we want to just specifically select this option, because inside of the V-Ray Frame Buffer itself you will see that there are a number of tools and controls that will affect the render data that we have in our V-Ray Frame Buffer, or the rendered frame window. So, important to remember that inside of there, there are definitely tools that we're going to want to access and work with. If we come up to the Rendering menu, you can see we can also open up the Environment and Effects dialog. Of course we could use the 8 keyboard shortcut to pull this up for ourselves.
Inside of here, in the Exposure Control rollout, accessing the dropdown reveals that we now have a V-Ray-specific version. Of course, the V-Ray Physical Camera has given Max users the option to work with Exposure Control in our renders, but now this option means that we can work with 3ds Max perspective viewports or standard cameras and still have this very interesting and very cool piece of functionality applied to our renders. Coming down to the Atmosphere rollout, if we click on the Add button, you can see we get atmospheric effects that we can add inside of this dialog.
Coming across to the Effects section, we can do the same thing, and you see we get the V-Ray Lens Effects tools that we can work with inside of there also. So all in all, we can see that the 3ds Max UI houses quite a number of areas where V-Ray tools and controls and features are accessed from. Taking just a little bit of time to familiarize ourselves with their locations, that's obviously going to mean that we can work quickly and easily in terms of finding these tools, and hopefully then we will be in a position to make best use of V-Ray's complete toolset.
- Installing and setting up V-Ray
- Using the DMC Sampler
- Understanding color mapping modes
- Adding a spherical fill light
- Working with the V-Ray Dome Light
- Using irradiance mapping and Light cache
- Creating diffuse color
- Making reflective materials
- Creating translucency
- Ensuring quality with image sampling
- Controlling the V-Ray physical camera
- Creating a motion blur effect
- Compositing V-Ray elements