Matching the Environment - Part 2 - Scanline Renderer

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  • Design Visualization
  • 2014
  • Lighting
  • Shading
  • Lighting and Rendering
  • Workflow
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
8 min

Matching the Environment - Part 2 - Scanline Renderer

?This is Part 2 of the Matching Environment series. In this tutorial, you learn how to add a compatible lighting scenario to the Scanline Renderer. You will also experiment with optimal lighting adjustments for Scanline.?


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


00:00:06 --> 00:00:11
In this movie, you add a lighting scenario based on a Daylight system.

00:00:11 --> 00:00:18
The Daylight System simulates the sun and daylight coming from the earth's atmosphere to provide global illumination.

00:00:19 --> 00:00:23
It can be used both with the Scanline and with the Mental Ray renderers.

00:00:24 --> 00:00:30
The creation process is the same, the difference lies in the adjustments made to the Daylight System's parameters.

00:00:31 --> 00:00:37
The project you started so far is using the Scanline renderer, which is the default when you start a new project.

00:00:37 --> 00:00:46
Continue working on your file from the first movie or open the provided file named Env_scanline.max if you need to catch up.

00:00:47 --> 00:00:53
As mentioned at the end of the last movie, a render at this point leaves a lot to be desired.

00:00:53 --> 00:01:01
Make sure you are set in a four-viewport configuration. If you need to, use Alt+W to toggle off full-screen mode.

00:01:05 --> 00:01:10
Go to the Create > Systems panel and choose the Daylight system.

00:01:10 --> 00:01:17
A warning appears prompting you to use Logarithmic Exposure Control to compensate for the strength of the Daylight system.

00:01:18 --> 00:01:24
This type of exposure control is one of the differences between Scanline and mr but more on that later.

00:01:25 --> 00:01:27
Click Yes to continue.

00:01:27 --> 00:01:34
Click and drag somewhere in the top view to create a rose compass and then drag a bit more and click to define the Orbital Scale.

00:01:35 --> 00:01:40
The background picture was taken at 10am, so make that adjustment accordingly.

00:01:41 --> 00:01:45
You can even set the Geographic location to match the picture in the background.

00:01:45 --> 00:01:52
For now though, simply adjust the North Direction so that the shadows match between 3D elements and background shadows.

00:01:53 --> 00:01:56
A value of about 245 degrees should be adequate.

00:02:00 --> 00:02:04
Render the camera view again. There are a few problems to overcome.

00:02:05 --> 00:02:10
You can certainly see the effect of the direct light (the sun) casting shadows on the ground.

00:02:10 --> 00:02:16
The ground itself should be invisible though, except for the fact that it's receiving shadows.

00:02:16 --> 00:02:24
Also, the general ambient illumination generated by indirect lighting (bouncing light) is a little flat and requires some work.

00:02:25 --> 00:02:28
There is also another problem that's quite important:

00:02:28 --> 00:02:32
Notice how the shadows seem to be cropped in this area.

00:02:32 --> 00:02:36
This can happen sometimes depending on where you placed the Daylight System.

00:02:37 --> 00:02:46
In its simplest form, the Daylight System uses a Direct light to simulate the sun, and in this case, the light beam is simply not large enough.

00:02:46 --> 00:02:50
To see it better, enable the Show Cone option.

00:02:51 --> 00:02:55
Sure enough, you can now see that the beam is too narrow.

00:02:56 --> 00:03:04
The light itself extends beyond the beam limits courtesy of the Overshoot option but the shadows are restricted within the beam area.

00:03:04 --> 00:03:11
Temporarily disable the Overshoot option and set the Hotspot/Beam value large enough to encompass the scene.

00:03:12 --> 00:03:17
For the scene in this movie, a value of 25~30m should do.

00:03:17 --> 00:03:26
Enable Overshoot again as this ensures the light itself extends beyond the beam as it was by default, and then disable Show Cone.

00:03:27 --> 00:03:29
Test render again.

00:03:31 --> 00:03:34
Now the shadows are a bit more accurate.

00:03:37 --> 00:03:43
Next, you take a look at how to make the ground invisible, except for its ability to collect shadows.

00:03:44 --> 00:03:50
Go to the Slate Material Editor and add a Matte/Shadow material to the viewer.

00:03:53 --> 00:03:56
Double-click its node to see its properties.

00:03:57 --> 00:04:02
Make sure it's set to receive shadows and apply it to the ground plane.

00:04:03 --> 00:04:10
Render again; this time, the ground is invisible and the shadows look like they're cast on the sidewalk.

00:04:11 --> 00:04:15
The shadows are black though, but you can control the color and density.

00:04:16 --> 00:04:20
Note how the tree shadows in the back have a slight tint of blue.

00:04:20 --> 00:04:27
In fact, right-click on the tree shadows in the rendered scene. An eyedropper appears.

00:04:27 --> 00:04:32
This gives you feedback on the sampled color and even places it in the color swatch.

00:04:32 --> 00:04:36
This means that you can now copy that color swatch with a right-click,

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And then in the Modify panel, paste it as a shadow color for the light.

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The difference is subtle but certainly visible.

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Dismiss the Render window and the material editor for now.

00:04:56 --> 00:05:00
Next you tackle the global illumination problem.

00:05:00 --> 00:05:05
Using the Scanline renderer, you are more or less restricted in your approach.

00:05:05 --> 00:05:12
You can certainly try and add other light sources here and there but that beats the purpose of using the Daylight System.

00:05:13 --> 00:05:20
The Daylight System is made of a Sunlight source for direct illumination and a Daylight source to provide global or indirect illumination.

00:05:21 --> 00:05:29
At this point, the Daylight source is using a Skylight option but the Scanline renderer is not really taking advantage of it yet.

00:05:29 --> 00:05:35
In order to take advantage of the Skylight, you use a tool called Light Tracer.

00:05:35 --> 00:05:38
This can be accessed from the Rendering menu.

00:05:39 --> 00:05:42
This activates the Light Tracer tool and gives you a set of default parameters.

00:05:43 --> 00:05:48
The two most important parameters are Rays/Samples and Bounces.

00:05:49 --> 00:05:56
The Bounces value controls the accuracy of the solution while the Rays/Samples value controls the quality.

00:05:56 --> 00:06:01
The higher these values, the better the solution but the longer the rendering time.

00:06:02 --> 00:06:06
Leave Bounces at 0 and decrease the Rays/Samples to 50.

00:06:07 --> 00:06:09
Test render the camera view.

00:06:10 --> 00:06:15
It doesn't look too different from earlier, that's because the Bounces value is at 0.

00:06:16 --> 00:06:19
Increase the number of bounces to 1 and try again.

00:06:20 --> 00:06:24
The rendering is slightly longer now but it does look better.

00:06:24 --> 00:06:29
You'll worry about the noisy textures in a second, first deal with the general illumination.

00:06:30 --> 00:06:35
Increase the Global Multiplier to 4 or 5 and try again.

00:06:38 --> 00:06:44
Once you're satisfied, you can increase the Rays/Samples value for a better quality rendering.

00:06:45 --> 00:06:50
Try it at 500 or even 1000 if you have a good computer system.

00:06:50 --> 00:06:57
The scene is starting to look good but there are a few limitations inherent to the Scanline renderer and the Light Tracer engine.

00:06:58 --> 00:07:04
This scene was reasonably quick to render but it isn't a very heavy scene to begin with.

00:07:04 --> 00:07:08
The Light Tracer engine has been known to choke with heavier scenes.

00:07:09 --> 00:07:13
The Materials currently used are all based on the Standard material.

00:07:13 --> 00:07:22
The render looks fine in this case but not very natural and a bit CG-like, especially when it comes to reflective materials like metal and glass.

00:07:22 --> 00:07:29
Also the current shadows are very crisp, in fact too crisp, even for a sunny day.

00:07:30 --> 00:07:36
This is down to the fact that the light used to simulate the sun is based on a direct light casting Ray Traced Shadows.

00:07:37 --> 00:07:45
You could switch to Shadow Maps for softer shadows but then you lose the transparency effect for transparent shadows.

00:07:45 --> 00:07:51
You can try and fiddle with Adv. Ray Traced options to get softer shadows,

00:07:53 --> 00:07:57
or you can use a completely alternative approach using Mental Ray.

00:07:58 --> 00:08:04
By the same token, you will learn to use materials that are more natural-looking and integrate better with the environment.

00:08:05 --> 00:08:07
This is what you do in the next movie.
Posted By
  • 3ds Max
  • 2014
  • Lighting
  • Shading
  • Lighting and Rendering
  • Workflow
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