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This is an advanced Mental-Ray studio render and lighting tutorial from www.3d2dizayn.com that explains the creation and setup for studio lighting,rendering and the use of Mentalray within 3ds Max. I’m going to try explaining you how to get some better rendering results in 3D Studio Max. I’m using the Autodesk 3dsmax 2010 version, but it should work fine in other versions too. Of course, there are many aspects when it comes to improving your renderings. You can get your models to look better, improve your textures, get better animations, … but what I’m going to talk about is the lighting and rendering of your scene.
Preview of Final Results
Step 1: Before we start, I presume the reader (you that is) has some knowledge of Mentalray Render. We’re going to render the scene with Mental Ray. But even if you don’t, this tutorial will still be useful for anyone that is starting off, or at an intermediate level. I have tried to explain everything in detail as much as I could. By default 3ds Max uses the Scanline renderer so we have to change that. Change the renderer to Mental Ray ( Rendering > Render Setup… > Common tab > Assign Renderer > Production > mental ray Renderer ). Mental Ray is a very stable render engine and it allows you to have very realistic renderings. it is very important to use “real dimensions” for all the objects that we have to create. Otherwise the result will not be realistic. It means that you have to go to CUSTOMIZE -> UNITS SETUP and choose the units that you want to use. In any case you should get used to create objects with their real dimensions so that you get a feeling for correct dimensions and proportions.
Step 2: Scene scale and Gamma is one of the most important things when you work with Mental Ray. Adjust your Units (Customize Units Setup) and Gamma Settings (Customize > >Preferences > Gamma and LUT tab). Then bring your objects to that scene. And scale everything to real world size.
Step 3: I used 3 mr Sky Portal lights. How near or far the Light to an object and the angle of the Light is very important so place your lights optimally. From the Light tab panel create a “mr Sky Portal” and put it in front of the character with the right scale and position, pay attention to screenshot. Your light position must be like this one.
Step4: To define the color temperature of the Lights put a mib_blackbody shader onto the mr Sky portal light > Advanced Parameters > Color Source > Custom toggle ( to unhide mib_blackbody shader in 3ds Max 2010 look at this link: http://forums.cgsociety.org/archive/index.php/t-754187.html ).The mib_blackbody shader used as a light card for the studio render so we don’t need a daylight system or a Skylight. Here is the mr Sky portal light and mib_blackbody shader settings of the scene.
Step 5: Create a Plane and link it to your light and assaign an A&D material to the plane and put a Gradient Ramp in the Cut-Out map slot of this material. They will give a soft edged shadow to the light.
Step 6: If you have textures we need Gamma adjustment to the textures. Use Gamma&Gain (mi) shader in the Diffuse slot of A&D material.
Step 7: For the Exposure Control, use mr Photographic Exposure Control.if you see everything black In the little preview window you firstly need to adjust the Shutter Speed. As you can see I used a very low value because everything was black in my scene. But Light Intensity is also very important. Adjust Shutter Speed and Light Intensity together. After you get the light back in the little preview window adjust Aperture and Film Speed. Then on the Image Control settings adjust the contrast of the image. I used 4300 White Point which gives a nice pale yellow color.
Step 8: I usually use Draft preset, Diffuse Bounce at 1 and Draft Mode(No Presalculation) on, Sampling quality ¼ for test renders. Low preset, Diffuse Bounce at 2 and Draft Mode(No Presalculation) off, Sampling quality 1/16. for the final render. The most important thing is shadow samples of the Lights, if you keep them low at final render they can make the image nasty. Make the shadow samples for the final render 16 or 32. But of course if you render in high resolution you need to adjust them higher. I won’t render my scene in big resolution so I will keep my settings pretty low. Here is the Final Gather and Sampling Quality Settings.
I have made some Color Correction in Photoshop. That‘s all for this tutorial. I hope you found this tutorial useful. Thank you for reading (Credits to Jeff Patton for the 3ds Max Gamma Configurations tutorial. Credits to Zap Anderson at “Zap’s Mental Ray Tips” for exposing Mental Ray standards).