Join Dave Schultze for an in-depth discussion in this video Strategies for materials, part of Rhino and V-Ray: Architectural Rendering.
- In this video, we'll review a few key strategies of mine on how to find and use materials for best results in your scenes. These are all pretty simple tips when you're preparing your 3-D file for materials and rendering. Let's jump ahead and take a sneak peek at what the rendering with look like with all the final materials on. I've got this pre-rendered here, so you can see we still don't have trees or people yet. Those are coming later, but this rendering does include all of the materials in the entire scene. Let's go ahead and close it for now. I'll sort of switch over to the perspective view by double-clicking on the viewport tab.
The key number one is the level of detail required is surprisingly low. For example, it's pretty sloppy in the areas you don't see. This is the underneath section. We can zoom around here, so a lot of the shapes are pretty simple forms. Now, the reason we can get by with this is the environment is extremely dynamic, and a lot of tiny edge details are completely lost. The point I want to make is a strong design with really good lighting can rescue an occasional bad materials.
Now, this is not really a material, but I'm going to show you my topography and how easy this was to create. I'm going to turn off the topography layer, and then, here are the construction curves, so this entire lawn area was made by the six curves. Actually, I just created one, copied it five times, and then made slight changes to the others. I was able to create this rolling landscape, so with those selected, I just went to Surface, Loft, hit OK, and that's exactly how I made the topography.
A lot of times things are easier than you think. Let's go ahead and get rid of that. Turn my other topo back on, so that brings up key number two, and that's having a library of quality materials. It's important that you don't try to redesign materials on every project, so this is a great way to work smart but not hard. By materials, I mean these can be with or without texture maps but used by V-Ray on every project. Let's take a look at our Material editor, and you'll notice I have quite a few in this scene.
We talked about some of these but not all, but that just shows you there's a lot going on in this scene. On the next project, I may be able to use half of these and save a tremendous amount of time. The key, though, is you have to be a little bit organized and be able to find those on that next project. Moving down to key number three, I recommend you make your own images. A great way to do this is take photographs of a material. Just be sure that there's no shadows crossing them and the light is as even possible. You can also make a material from scratch in Photoshop.
Key number four would be sometimes good enough can be great. By that, I mean you don't have to do additional rendering tests if the improvement is becoming very, very small. A lot of times you can tweak it with the V-Ray levels command or just take it into Photoshop. This entire process is called post-processing, or post for short. We'll cover that later, as well. Key number five is almost all materials are applied in the same general way. We first select a piece of geometry, and then we select the material to get applied to that.
If it looks okay, you're actually done. Occasionally, you will need to adjust the tiling by using a UVW mapping widget for more control. Finally, you might have to tweak the bump or displacement settings if you're looking for a little bit of a texture on that surface. My sixth and final key is it's really all about the design. Whenever you're working with materials, they can only go so far to hide a bad design. To help you focus on the design, we've been spending a lot of time rendering with that override material so that we can focus not only on the forms but the camera exposure.
If you recall, that setting is located in the Global settings. Take a quick look here. Under Global switches, this is the Override material that will turn everything in the scene into the same shade. Let's close this and go back to the original list. We'll take a look at the rendering, as well. When rendering, keep in mind the job of all your material is to make your design look good and more real. The material should be used to enhance your design of the form, the space, and the light, not cover up any of your shortcomings.
- Setting up your system
- Understanding the settings, software, and process
- Lighting the scene
- Tweaking exposure
- Rendering with architectural glass, masonry, and concrete
- Making realistic grass and trees
- Creating depth of field
- Compositing from 3D to 2D