Green Rascal Design

I figured I'd post an update on this project. The image is a combination of 3 different renderings, and I did not do ANY photoshop touch-ups. They are simply different blending modes layered on top of each other with different opacities.

Now this still looks a bit fake. However, I submit to you that this whole thing took me 3 hours. That includes re-importing the updated AutoCAD model to 3ds Max, creating all new materials, setting up about 41 new lights (not all in this one room) and rendering 6 different cameras in 4 different ways each, then combining the 4 images of this camera into the jpg you see. With a lot more time, such as students have, this could look much more realistic.

Everyone in class has a lot going for them. They've spent weeks making their models. They took days tweaking their materials. They agonized over lighting for hours. They pondered rendering settings and advanced lighting modes for only GOD knows how long. Things are looking pretty good. Now is a perfect time to talk about adding some touches in photoshop to make things look much more realistic.

A bunch of the students in this class say they're really good at photoshop. Some others maybe need more help. I haven't really figured out a good starting point for touch up lessons yet, so I won't go on and on here today with anything specific. In class later I want to talk about who knows what, and go over some basic stuff with anybody who needs it. For those with more advanced knowledge, I want to see some proof! Let's get those people inserted!

It's been a nice long weekend, and I hope everyone is refreshed now! See you later.
For our last class before the holiday season begins, we'll be working on pumping out those renderings.

If you searched for mental ray versus radiosity or similar in Google, as some of the students like to do, you would find a huge debate over what renderer is better, etc. I have been forming my own opinion, but there are always exceptions. This is why answering some questions in class is tricky and I promote the idea of experimenting. However, the lecture today will go over some of my thoughts on this debate. Then we can go off to our long weekends and ponder implications until Tuesday.

That's it. See you later!
Usually I don't bridge business projects with tutorials, but it just so happens to be the perfect time to take this into production. The other day I briefly talked about meshing with respect to producing renderings. Class seems to be lagging a bit, however some people are itching to get into photoshop with their projects. Naturally, we're here to learn how to pump out renderings in Max that require as little post-production editing as possible. I'll work on this today with respect to my current office project. (Surely the clients would approve since they're in the business of helping people.)

I confirmed recently that sometimes you have to place lights outside of their fixtures in order to get them to show up the way you want. All the artificial light in this model is therefore placed strategically above or below the fixtures. If your test renderings are not showing your lights properly, try adjusting their locations, angles and targets.
Now, about radiosity. Remember that in order to get to advanced lighting, you have to change the renderer to scanline. This is under Render Setup > Common > Assign Renderer. Changing back and forth between renderers might do unexpected things, but I find it to usually turn out for the better. What looks black and dead in mental ray can look much livlier in radiosity, and vice a versa.

Also, sometimes I change to radiosity and it looks horrible so I change it back, only to discover that now my mental ray looks better than before I tried radiosity. If I were a scientist I'd have a reason to offer for why this happens, but all I have at this point is a guess that the radiosity mesh has lingering effects.

Clearly the mesh is still there when I switch back.

very slight changes
Now I have a new mental ray rendering. It still looks somewhat dead, but it's better than before. It certainly is better than my radiosity rendering was for some reason. I'm going to spend some time adjusting lights and stuff, return to radiosity and tighten up my mesh, and then see how it looks again. Welcome to the second most time-consuming part of modeling. (Or it could be the most time-consuming if you have become pretty good at making stuff.)

I'm also going to turn different things on and off like a volume light, exposure control, shadow types and a soft filter on the renderer. After I collect several different kinds of renderings from the same camera, I can layer them in photoshop which is easier than coming up with stuff out of the blue sometimes. This can end up as one of my smaller renderings. When I get a good feel for how the renderings are coming out, I will increase settings such as quality and output size for my showstopper rendering(s) eventually.

To address the question of, "how do I make my rendering look like a photo," the answer is to add more detail. This room looks dead because I have no papers lying about like a real office. I don't have any paintings on the walls or family photos on the receptionist's desk. I don't have a wall hanging for brochures or anything. I can't add these things now, but at some point I know that I will have to if I want this to be realistic.
Right now try to get Max to provide you the most believable renderings you can. You will need to move on quickly now if you plan to make things realistic with details and other things, whether they be in model form or in photoshop. Hopefully you have camera angles you are happy with so you can come back to the same views later if you have time. Enjoy!





I want to talk briefly about meshing radiosity today. A lot of students think, "well why should I do all this work if mental ray does it for me and everything looks okay with that?" Hey, you're right. It is some work, but this is valuable to know so that you can picture what is going on when the computer does all those computations for you. This concept applies to object properties too.
This is what my radiosity mesh looks like with a maximum mesh size of 3'. The resulting rendering is okay, but a little splotchy.

Here is my radiosity mesh with a maximum mesh size of 2'. The resulting rendering is much smoother than previously. You just have to take my word for it.

Here are the main areas where you can tell the difference between the two meshes. The finer mesh is lighter because I have overlaid it on top of the large mesh in photoshop. I just thought this would help you picture the point of meshing.

We will talk more about this later. It is key. And the faculty want to make sure that all the students understand meshing because, after all, this is supposed to be advanced modeling, and meshing is a basic advanced concept. Basic advanced, does that make sense? Ok, enough joking around. See you later.
No, I don't mean the show.
Here's a nice little guy I got for free online. If you have a simple model, and you want to go the route of adding 3D people to it, then that's fine. I don't know how to make people in 3ds Max yet, so I can't say how long the artist took to make this guy. Though I'm glad I found him, and he works great for this simple model. I would not, however, add a lot of 3D people. If you have something that needs a couple of main characters, this works. Once you get the feel for how light is reacting with one or two of these types of objects, you can probably get the same results with Photoshop.

Here is a version of the rendering with an additional person. She's not quite as awesome, but the thing is pretty fuzzy so it really isn't that visible. I messed around with the radiosity parameters, and I'm not that happy with it. The point of this image, though, is just to demonstrate adding more people to a rendering. See below where I have added two flat people in photoshop, and I only spent half an hour on this at most.

If I'd really planned this out, I might have picked images of people that weren't so sharp and detailed so that they might match what I already had going on. That's okay. The point is clear. Notice how the space feels with more people in it? It went from being a lonely room last week to some guy admiring a statue, then to a guy and his wife arguing about the statue, and finally to a room where a bunch of people are discussing the statue.

Now is a good time to think about how you plan to populate your models. Collect models or images of people that seem to fit together with each other in addition to your space. How many people use your place on average? What are they doing there? This is your entourage, and just as you'd carefully select friends to hang out with, spend some time selecting  them for your projects! (Certainly spend more time than I have today!)
Time to talk about lighting, environment and rendering settings:
These are 12 different renderings (not in order of creation) exploring only a few variables. You may recognize some problems you are finding in your own progress renderings, and hopefully we can talk about that this week. For today we should focus on identifying what style you would prefer to achieve. Everyone says "I want my project to look like a photograph." Well, have you ever taken a photography class? If not you might be surprised to find out how vague your goal really is. A real camera can give you a very wide array of results! It just so happens that in the 3D world the way you achieve the same thing is by manipulating things other than aperture size, F-stop, shutter speed and time of day or lighting levels. If only we could just say, "I want this to look like an aperture width of 2, an F-stop of 8, focused at infinity, with a 28mm lens, slightly under-exposed on a cloudy day at 2pm," click. Oh, what film type was that? See what I mean?

Anyway, think about what you're getting now and what you'd like to achieve. I'd like to say we'll have a lecture on Thursday about this, but to get the class going it might have to be today depending on where everyone is at with those darn materials. We should try to keep in mind that the materials will look different under altered rendering settings, and perhaps this is the perfect time to switch it up.

This particular model has one basic material in it, and it looks fairly different when I change the shadow type, etc. And if you're curious, I was working on making an environment effect, so I have two suns and two skies, all with different properties but in the same location, under different activation combinations... and I changed render engines once, environments a couple times and shadows all different ways. As long as you keep notes while messing around I encourage doing several studies like this.