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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
Skill Level Intermediate
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.