Matching the Environment - Part 4 - Mental Ray Materials and Reflections

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  • Design Visualization
  • Shaders
  • 2014
  • Action
  • Lighting
  • Lighting and Rendering
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  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Beginner
5 min

Matching the Environment - Part 4 - Mental Ray Materials and Reflections

?This is Part 4 of the Matching Environment series. In this tutorial, you will leverage Mental Ray Arch and Design material.?


  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2014
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2014 or higher.


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Continue working on your file from the last movie.

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If you need to catch up, open the file named Env_materials.max.

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At this point, the mental ray-based lighting is in place but the render is still unconvincing.

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The problem mainly comes from the fact that the materials used are currently based on the Standard material.

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They do show a bit of reflection but it's actually a simulated reflection based on a bitmap.

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This means that an object nearby would not truly reflect on these surfaces.

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They also appear a bit washed-out although in certain circumstances, it could be worse.

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One such circumstance is when you omit to use Gamma Correction.

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In the Preferences dialog, under Gamma and LUT, always ensure Gamma Correction is enabled.

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This is an absolute must, at least when using mental ray.

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Screen monitors are always limited in their color-depth, certainly when compared to what your eye can perceive in real-life.

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When you work in 8-bit and set colors in the traditional 0~255 RGB range, results can be acceptable in certain situations but not in others.

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When it comes to using mental ray, always use Gamma Correction and materials that are mental ray-based, such as the Arch & Design material.

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When using a Standard material, color selection is based on 8-bit integers (0-255) values.

00:01:42 --> 00:01:53
When using a mental ray material, the Color selector shows a variant where normalized values range between 0.0 and 1.0 real-number values.

00:01:53 --> 00:02:03
Visually, the colors may appear the same in the material editor or even in the viewport but mr material outputs work in high dynamic range.

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This means they are much more accurate to your intents once you render the scene.

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To see this better, you will now replace the Standard materials with Arch & Design ones.

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If you added any materials to the material editor, delete them now.

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Right-click the View1 tab and create a new view, so you don't clutter the one you used already.

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In the new view, use Pick Material from Object and select the booth in the scene. Its material is now displayed.

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It's a multi-sub material that accounts for the different textures on the booth.

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Faces have been separated by material IDs and are mapped accordingly.

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Right now, you are mostly interested in IDs #2, 3 and 4.

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These respectively represent the red areas, the glass and the gray metal material at the top and bottom of the booth.

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These also happen to be reflective which is an important issue to address.

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Drag an Arch & Design material next to the red Standard material. Double-click it to see its properties.

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There are many properties but there's a template list that simplifies the process.

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Choose a Glossy finish for now. The material is gray by default.

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To make it the same red as what was originally intended, double-click the original red standard material node.

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With a right-click, copy its color information to the clipboard.

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Go back to the Arch & Design material and paste the info to the Diffuse color swatch.

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Even though the swatches appear to be the same color, the Arch & Design material will output it in HDR mode which is closer to what is intended.

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Next, wire the new material to replace the old, as Material ID #2.

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Render again.

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Here you will notice a thing or two:

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The color itself is certainly a more defined red but there is something that feels wrong about the reflections.

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At first, it looks like the red surfaces are reflecting the environment.

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A closer inspection shows that the material is almost transparent in a weird way.

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The material is actually reflecting the environment but it's doing it the wrong way.

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It's reflecting the environment from the camera point of view, in essence, duplicating the background.

00:05:02 --> 00:05:08
You need to break that relationship between the rendered background and the reflections on shiny materials.

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In order to understand that relationship or connection better, and how to overcome it, you will work on a simpler scene.

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Move on to the next movie to learn about that process.
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  • 3ds Max
  • Shaders
  • 2014
  • Action
  • Lighting
  • Lighting and Rendering
  • Workflow
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