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1 3Ds Max Tutorial Water The Ocean on Fri Sep 24, 2010 4:01 am

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3D Water – The Ocean

20 Apr 2010

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]In this 3ds Max tutorial we’re going to create a 3d water surface that could be a lake, a sea, or an ocean. The 3d water is illuminated with the Daylight system. It might sound complicated but it’s actually pretty simple (at least in 3ds max 2010) since the default settings work so well.


Step 1 Mental Ray Renderer


We’re going to render the 3d ocean with the Mental Ray. By default 3ds Max uses the Scanline renderer so we have to change that. Change the renderer to the Mental Ray ( Rendering > Render Setup… > Common tab > Assign Renderer > Production ).
Step 2 The Basic Geometry for the 3D Water


Create a Plane ( Create panel > Geometry > Standard Primitives > Plane ) in the top viewport . Modify the Plane ( Make a selection > Modify panel ) according to the following parameters :

  • Length: 500
  • Width: 500

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Step 3 Camera Above the Water


Create a Target Camera ( Create panel > Cameras > Target ) in the top viewport to the center of the plane. Go to the right viewport and place the camera and the camera target according to picture below.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]


Activate the Perspective view and press C in the keyboard to activate the Camera view.
Step 4 Material to the 3D Water Surface


Open Material Editor ( Rendering > Material Editor… ) and create an ocean material:

  1. Click “Get Material” button and select ( doubleclick ) ‘Arch & Design (mi)’ from the list.
  2. Select the ocean plane and assign the material to it.
  3. Select template from the drop-down list: Water, Reflective Surface

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Step 5 3ds Max Daylight System


We’re going to illuminate our 3d ocean scene with the Daylight system. Daylight is a system that mimics real world sun. Create the Daylight system ( Create panel > Systems > Daylight ) in the top viewport. A new dialog appears. 3ds Max suggests that you use mr Photographic Exposure Control with EV=15. Just click YES. ( If the dialog doesn’t appear, apply the setting manually (Rendering > Environment… > Exposure Control )). Modify the following parameters of the Daylight:

  • Daylight Parameters

    • Sunlight: mr Sun
    • Skylight: mr Sky(A new dialog appears. 3ds Max suggests that you use mr Physical Sky. Just click YES. If the dialog doesn’t appear, apply the setting manually ( Rendering > Environment… > Common Parameters > Background > Environment Map ))
    • Position: Manual ( this setting allows us to place the sun manually, instead of using real world location and time )

  • Place the daylight so that it shines straight from the top like in picture below.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Step 6 First Render of the 3D Ocean


We have the ocean and the daylight system so it’s a good idea to check how the rendered image looks like. Your image should look similar to picture below. In the background you see the mr Physical Sky environment map which was added automatically in the previous step. The brown line represents the ground in the background map. Thanks to Metal Ray’s lume shader the plane looks like and 3d ocean already. However, there are some things I’d like to change:

  • Horizon should be lowered to hide the ground
  • Smaller Waves
  • More blue and saturated colors to both ocean and the sky
  • Little brighter image

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Step 7 The Horizon


The horizon can be lowered in the parameters of the Daylight ( Make a selection > Modify panel ):

  • mr Sky Advanced Parameters

    • Horizon

      • Height: -0,1 ( you might need higher value. It depends on your camera angle. )
      </LI>
    </LI>

-[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Step 8 Smaller and Bluer Ocean Waves


Open Material Editor ( Rendering > Material Editor… ) and make the following changes to the ocean material:

  1. Main Material Parameters

    • Change the color to blue ( for example hue: 0,62 )

  • Special Purpose Maps

    • Click on the (Ocean (lume)) shader and make the following changes:

      • Largest: 2,5
      • Smallest: 0,12( These values change the size of the sea waves )
      </LI>
    </LI>

    [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
    Step 9 Color, Saturation, & Brightness


    Color, saturation, and brightness of the image can be adjusted in the parameters of the Daylight:

    • mr Sky Parameters

      • Multiplier: 1,1 ( increases the intensity of the sun )

    • mr Sky Advanced Parameters

      • Red/Blue Tint: -0,1 ( changes the hue of the light and sky )
      • Saturation: 1,3 ( changes the saturation of the light and sky )
      </LI>

    ( Notice that the default colors were more realistic, these color changes are purely for artistic reasons ; )
    [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
    Step 10 Antialiasing of the Ocean Waves


    If you look closely you might see minor aliasing problems in the distant waves. To fix this, just increase antialiasing quality by increasing Mental Ray’s sampling values ( Rendering > Render setup… > Renderer > Sampling Quality ):

    • Samples per pixel:

      • Minimum: 4
      • Maximum: 64
      </LI>

    Create a Torus Knot ( Create panel > Geometry > Extended Primitives > Torus Knot ) to see how standard objects look in the water. Go to the Modify panel and apply the following parameters:

    • Base Curve

      • Radius: 23
      • Segments: 300

    • Cross Section

      • Radius: 2,5
      </LI>

    [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
    And if you feel like it, do some color correction in Photoshop:

    • Brightness: 35
    • Contrast: 25

    [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
    Now our 3d water is complete. Next we’re going to see what else we can get out of the daylight system.
    Step 11 Sunset Render


    Let’s explore further the power of the Daylight system. Let’s simulate sunset by placing the sun near the horizon. Now we can actually see the sun and notice how the daylight system changes color and intensity based on the angle of the sun. ( you might want to decrease the sampling values ( Minimum: 1/4 and Maximum: 4 ) temporarily to speed up the rendering ).
    Tip: you can see the sun and illumination before rendering the image if you do the following:

    • Activate the camera view and press SHIFT+F3 in keyboard
    • Go to viewport background settings ( Views > Viewport Background > Viewport Background… ) and apply the following settings:

      • Use Environment Background: ON
      • Display Background: ON
      </LI>

    [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
    Step 12 Colors of the Sunset


    Let’s make the rendering more interesting by changing the colors to more orange. Select the Daylight. go to the Modify panel, and apply the following parameters:

    • mr Sky Advanced Parameters

      • Red/Blue Tint: 1,0 ( changes the hue of the light and sky )
      • Saturation: 2,0 ( changes the saturation of the light and sky )
      </LI>

    [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]


    Step 13 Sun Glare


    Next we’re going to add some glare to the sun to make it more interesting. Apply Glare Camera Shader ( Rendering > Render Setup > Renderer > Camera Effects > Camera Shaders > Output > Glare ) Just turn the output shader on, the glare shader should be selected by default.
    [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
    Tip: If you’d like to adjust the Glare shader you can just drag and drop it into a material slot in Material Editor ( make sure to select “instance” when asked ) and adjust it there. Make sure to select ‘Instance’ when asked.
    Tip: Another way to adjust the sun glare is to drag and drop ‘mr Physical Sky’ ( Rendering > Environment… > Common Parameters > Background > Environment map ) into a material slot in Material Editor and adjust it there. ( Make sure to select ‘Instance’ when asked. )
    Step 14 Fog / Haze in the Sea


    Let’s add some Fog/Haze to the scene to blend the horizon with the background. Select the Daylight, go to the Modify panel, and apply the following settings:

    • mr Sky: Haze Driven (mr Sky)

      • Haze: 2,0 ( adds haze/fog to the scene )

    • mr Sky Advanced Parameters

      • Aerial Perspective

        • Visibility Distance: 50 ( makes the haze appear close )
        </LI>

    • mr Sky Parameters

      • Multiplier: 3,0 ( increases the intensity of the sun to shine stronger behind the haze. You might need to use different value depending on the angle of the sun )
      </LI>

    [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
    Step 15 Color Correction in Photoshop


    I’ll do some color correction in Photoshop to make the image more dramatic:

    • Brightness: -10
    • Contrast: 70

    [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
    Step 12 Moonlit 3D Water


    The final thing we’re going to try with the 3ds Max Daylight system is a moonlit night scene. We can’t get perfect blue color out of the Daylight system so let’s remove the color from it. Select the Daylight, go to the Modify panel, and apply the following parameters:

    • mr Sky Advanced Parameters

      • Red/Blue Tint: 0 ( changes the hue of the light and sky )
      • Saturation: 0 ( changes the saturation of the light and sky )
      </LI>

    Those values are well suited for subtle changes but now we need a radical change so we’re going to change the mr Photographic Exposure Control settings ( Rendering > Exposure Control… > mr Photographic Exposure Control ):

    • Image Control

      • Color Saturation: 1 ( saturation of the colors of the whole image )
      • Whitepoint: 3000 ( color temperature of the light source )
      • Vignetting: 7 ( adds vignetting effect to the image )
      </LI>

    [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
    Step 13 Some Magic Over 3D Sea


    Now I’m tempted to add fireworks over the 3d ocean to create some magic to the image but for the sake of the length of this tutorial we’ll settle with some floating light sources. Create a sphere ( Create panel > Standard Primitives > Sphere ), go to the Modify panel, and apply the following parameters to it:

    • Radius: 0,3

    Open Material Editor ( Rendering > Material Editor… ) and create a new material for the sphere:

    1. Click ‘Get Material’ button and select (doubleclick) ‘Arch & Design (mi)’ from the list.
    2. Select the sphere and assign the material to it.
    3. Main Material Parameters

      • Diffuse

        • Color: pure white
    </LI>

  • Self Illumination (Glow)

    • Self Illumination (Glow): ON
    • Luminance: 1000
    </LI>

    We’ll create standard lights so we should change the mr Photographic Exposure Control settings ( Rendering > Environment… > mr Photographic Exposure Control ):

    • Physical Scale: Unitless: 1500

    Create a standard Omni light ( Create panel > Lights > Standard > Omni ), go to the Modify panel, and apply the following parameters to it:

    • Multiplier: 20
    • Decay

      • Type: Inverse Square
      • Start: 10
      </LI>

    Place the Omni to the middle of the sphere. Now one light source is ready. Make several copies of it and move them around.
    Finally we’re going to create a stronger glare to the moon and the spheres by modifying the glare shader:

    • Drag and drop the Glare shader ( Rendering > Render Setup > Renderer > Camera Effects > Camera Shaders > Output > Glare ) to an empty material slot in the Material Editor ( make sure to select “instance” when asked )
    • In Material Editor, change the Spread value to 4. ( this makes the glare stronger )

    Darken the moon to create a little more convincing image. Select the Daylight, go to the Modify panel, and decrease the multiplier value of the Daylight system:

    • mr Sky Parameters

      • Multiplier: 1,5
      </LI>

    Render the image and you should get something like picture below.
    [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
    Step 13 Color Correction in Photoshop


    You probably guessed it. I’ll do some color correction in Photoshop to make the image pop:

    • Brightness: 15
    • Contrast: 80
    • Hue: -8

    [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
    And that’s it for today. I hope it helps and you’re able to create something beautiful. Let’s continue in the comments!]
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