3ds Max 2018 - MAXtoA Plugin - Part 1 - Arnold Rendering Basics

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Industry
  • Film & VFX
  • Games
  • Design Visualization
Subject
  • Rendering
  • Lighting and Rendering
  • Workflow
Products
  • 3ds Max
  • Arnold
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
Duration
11 min

3ds Max 2018 - MAXtoA Plugin - Part 1 - Arnold Rendering Basics

In this multi-part tutorial, you learn about the new MaxtoA (Arnold renderer) plugin and what it brings to 3ds Max 2018. This Part 1 movie introduces you to the basic set up for Arnold renderer.


Notes

  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2018
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2018 or higher.

Learning resources

Transcript

?00:00:06 --> 00:00:12
Starting in 3ds Max 2018, you will discover a rather important change to the rendering engines.

00:00:13 --> 00:00:20
Mental Ray, a well-established fixture of 3ds Max for many years, has been replaced by the new kid on the block.

00:00:20 --> 00:00:27
Arnold,the rendering engine that's been the go-to solution in movie productions is now available in 3ds Max.

00:00:28 --> 00:00:37
When you install 3ds Max 2018, you automatically get a free license of the Arnold Renderer from Solid Angle, the developers of Arnold.

00:00:38 --> 00:00:46
This free license for MAXtoA as it's called (in reference to the "MAX to Arnold" plugin) is good for front-end rendering.

00:00:47 --> 00:00:56
This means it is set for single machine rendering through the GUI. You would need additional commercial licenses for background renderings and render farms.

00:00:56 --> 00:01:05
Plugin updates and other goodies such as Scene Converter scripts and sample files are available on the Solid Angle Arnold downloads page.

00:01:06 --> 00:01:11
This multi-part tutorial will guide in your first steps experimenting with Arnold.

00:01:11 --> 00:01:20
The integration to the 3ds Max UI is effortless, which means you set up the rendering engine much like any other, using the Render Setup dialog.

00:01:21 --> 00:01:30
Some tabs change and some remain the same. The Arnold Renderer tab gives you access to Render Settings which we will explore later.

00:01:31 --> 00:01:33
But what happens to legacy scenes and projects?

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What happens to scenes saved in other rendering engines, or that use legacy or specific types of materials, maps and lights?

00:01:42 --> 00:01:49
Let's explore this together. The scene you will be using is simple yet useful for the purposes of this tutorial.

00:01:49 --> 00:01:54
It shows a dining set, with a table, four chairs and a few additional props.

00:01:54 --> 00:02:01
When opened in 3ds Max 2017, note that it uses Mental Ray as a rendering engine.

00:02:01 --> 00:02:10
It is also using legacy Standard materials for the most part but also one or two materials based on Mental Ray's Arch and Design material.

00:02:11 --> 00:02:15
There are also six photometric lights illuminating the scene.

00:02:15 --> 00:02:20
To download this file, a download link is available in the Description section of this movie.

00:02:21 --> 00:02:24
Open this scenein 3ds Max 2018.

00:02:27 --> 00:02:36
The first indication that something has fundamentally changed is the Obsolete File warning prompting you to resave the file to a new format.

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Click OK to dismiss the warning, and another warning appears.

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This one warns you that since the file contains mental ray legacy assets, something needs to be done to make them compatible with 3ds Max 2018.

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If you click OK, any missing legacy assets will be removed.

00:02:55 --> 00:03:00
You also have the option to open the Scene Converter to make additional adjustments.

00:03:00 --> 00:03:06
Click OK for now. The scene loads in 3ds Max 2018 without any further problems.

00:03:06 --> 00:03:14
If you were to check the Material Editor, you'll note that the Arch & Design material has been automatically converted to a Physical Material.

00:03:14 --> 00:03:21
This is good news as the Physical Material is easily the go-to material in 3ds Max moving forward.

00:03:21 --> 00:03:26
It's powerful, easy to use and compatible with most rendering engines including Arnold.

00:03:27 --> 00:03:34
Still, because we haven't manually run any conversions, the scene loads using the Scanline renderer by default.

00:03:34 --> 00:03:40
In a way, it is still using some legacy features such as the Standard Material.

00:03:40 --> 00:03:48
Even though some legacy features work or can be made to work with Arnold, it is better to help the process a little bit.

00:03:48 --> 00:03:50
Close all dialog boxes.

00:03:51 --> 00:03:57
Typically, with older scenes, you want to use Scene Converter to update them to better and more modern standards.

00:03:58 --> 00:04:02
Go to the Scene Converter dialog accessible from the Rendering menu.

00:04:03 --> 00:04:06
By default, the ART preset is chosen.

00:04:07 --> 00:04:16
This is significant because although other Arnold presets and scripts are made available by Solid Angle, the ART preset may well be the only thing you need.

00:04:17 --> 00:04:24
If you expand the conversion rules, you will see that this preset gives you all you need to ensure 100% compatibility.

00:04:24 --> 00:04:32
Materials will be converted to Physical Materials, lights converted to Photometric lights which are fully compatible with Arnold,

00:04:32 --> 00:04:38
mr Sun and Sky converted to Sun Positioner, which again is compatible with Arnold,

00:04:38 --> 00:04:44
even cameras and Exposure Control are set to give you optimum results when converted.

00:04:44 --> 00:04:53
Basically, the only option you might want to change here is in the Editor tab, whereas you ask for the renderer to be switched to Arnold instead of ART.

00:04:54 --> 00:04:58
As you convert the scene, you're effectively making it Arnold-ready.

00:04:59 --> 00:05:05
If you so choose, you can even save the preset changes under a new name, such as MyArnold.

00:05:08 --> 00:05:10
Dismiss Scene Converter when done.

00:05:11 --> 00:05:21
The materials may have disappeared from the viewport but you can bring them back using Views > Show Materials in Viewport As > Shaded Materials with Maps.

00:05:22 --> 00:05:30
Select the camera in the scene. You will find it is indeed a Physical Camera now and you can therefore set it to use Exposure Control in the Modify panel.

00:05:31 --> 00:05:34
This ought to make the camera viewport shading a bit better.

00:05:35 --> 00:05:40
Check the Render Settings dialog to confirm that Arnold is indeed the chosen rendering engine.

00:05:41 --> 00:05:47
Check the Material Editor to see that all Standard Materials have been converted to Physical Materials.

00:05:47 --> 00:05:53
Interestingly, you do get a red warning about a Noise map being not supported.

00:05:53 --> 00:05:58
You can in fact still use some of these old 3ds Max map types in Arnold.

00:05:59 --> 00:06:07
All you need is to go to the System tab in the Render Setup dialog and enable the Legacy 3ds Max Support option.

00:06:08 --> 00:06:13
This should take care of the Arnold warning and you can dismiss that dialog.

00:06:18 --> 00:06:24
Render the camera view to get a feel for the scene. It renders okay but could use a bit of fine-tuning.

00:06:24 --> 00:06:31
Even though the materials were converted to Physical materials, they are still based on old and obsolete material definitions.

00:06:32 --> 00:06:39
For example, the plates and utensils rely on bitmaps to convey reflections. This is hardly accurate and should be addressed.

00:06:40 --> 00:06:45
Using the Material Editor, sample the material applied on the utensils.

00:06:45 --> 00:06:49
Delete the bitmap associated with the material; you won't need it anymore.

00:06:50 --> 00:06:58
As for the material itself, one of the perks of using Physical Materials is that you can choose material properties from a list of presets.

00:06:58 --> 00:07:03
In this case, I will use the Silver preset from the Metals group.

00:07:06 --> 00:07:15
For the plates, I will choose a Glazed Ceramic preset, while perhaps giving the base color a touch of beige.

00:07:21 --> 00:07:24
By duplicating the last render, and comparing it to a new one, you can already see the differences these small changes introduced.

00:07:34 --> 00:07:36
You can continue experimenting with this.

00:07:36 --> 00:07:41
For example, setting the wine glasses to a Satin Silver preset, while retaining the old bitmap in the color and bump channels.

00:07:55 --> 00:07:59
The wine bottles can use some help, mostly for the glass part.

00:08:00 --> 00:08:02
They have similar material definitions, the white wine bottle has green glass, so you can use a Solid Glass preset for it.

00:08:09 --> 00:08:13
Just make the transparency color a mid to light green.

00:08:16 --> 00:08:22
The same applies for the red wine bottle with a slightly darker red to reduce transparency.

00:08:29 --> 00:08:37
Finally, you can fine-tune the wood and metal textures on the table and chairs by sampling the material from one of the chairs.

00:08:41 --> 00:08:44
Give the wood a coat of varnish, and set the metal to a Polished Aluminum finish.

00:09:00 --> 00:09:05
Just make sure the base color is very dark, almost black.

00:09:13 --> 00:09:20
Compare your last render to the original and you'll notice a significant improvement that comes strictly from Physical Material adjustments.

00:09:21 --> 00:09:29
As you can see, the Physical Material is 100% compatible with Arnold. It is easy to use and you're probably already familiar with it.

00:09:30 --> 00:09:35
If you prefer, you can use Arnold-specific materials and shaders, and there are many.

00:09:36 --> 00:09:41
If you right-click in the material Editor, you'll note a full Arnold category under Materials.

00:09:42 --> 00:09:48
That is in turn subdivided into more options as you delve deeper into what Arnold has to offer.

00:09:48 --> 00:09:54
The same is true under the Maps category where you will see quite a few additions there as well.

00:09:55 --> 00:10:02
If this starts to get confusing, you can indeed stick with the Physical Material workflow and that in itself will take you a long way.

00:10:03 --> 00:10:11
This said, if you want to experiment with Arnold-specific materials and shaders, then a good place to start would be the Standard Surface material.

00:10:12 --> 00:10:16
This Arnold material is the closest you get to Max's Physical Material.

00:10:16 --> 00:10:29
The parameter groups are roughly the same, with options for clearcoat, base color, reflections, transparency here called transmission, SSS

00:10:30 --> 00:10:36
There are no clear-cut benefits to choose between 3ds Max's Physical Material and Arnold's Standard Surface Material,

00:10:36 --> 00:10:40
except maybe the available presets that are part of the Physical Material.

00:10:41 --> 00:10:45
With the materials now in place, we will look at lighting next.

00:10:45 --> 00:10:50
At this time, the scene is lit by six photometric lights that are fully compatible with Arnold.

00:10:50 --> 00:10:58
Indeed you can keep on using Photometric lights in your future projects or you can elect to use Arnold lights to light a scene.

00:10:58 --> 00:11:05
This requires a bit of workflow re-thinking but you might find it worth your while. This is what we will explore in the next movie.?
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Tags
  • 3ds Max
  • Arnold
  • Rendering
  • Lighting and Rendering
  • Workflow
3 Comments
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| 2 years ago
Eager to expand your knowledge? Get answers and share your expertise at the 3ds Max forums | http://autode.sk/3dsmaxforums
| 2 years ago
Eager to expand your knowledge? Get answers and share your expertise at the 3ds Max Forums | http://autode.sk/3dsMaxForums
| 2 years ago
Thank you, very clear!
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