Materials and Mapping in 3ds Max - Creating Technical Renders with Ink n' Paint

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  • Games
  • Design Visualization
  • Animation
  • 2011
  • Shading
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
7 min

Materials and Mapping in 3ds Max - Creating Technical Renders with Ink n' Paint

In this tutorial, learn how to create a render, using the Ink 'n Paint Material to convey contours and shading. You will even simulate "hatching" in the shadow areas, much like you see in architectural drawings.

  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2011
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2011 or higher.


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There are many ways to simulate "tech renders" or sketch effects.
This movie shows how you can achieve the result
using the Ink 'n Paint material.

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Usually, Ink 'n Paint is used for cartoon effects.

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As you will see in this movie though, it can also be used
for technical renders.

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The scene shows two futuristic buildings.

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The current materials applied are based on mental ray Arch & Design materials.

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No maps or bitmaps are used at this time.

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To create a "tech render" material, go to the Slate Material Editor
and drag an Ink 'n Paint material into the viewer.

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Double-click its node to see its properties.

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Alternatively, double click the sample image to get a better view
of the material.

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Ultimately, you're looking for a monochrome image, so start by setting
the Lighted color to full white.

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You can also change the Paint Levels to affect the shaded areas.

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For the effect you are aiming for with this scene, a value of 3 should
be adequate but feel free to experiment with other values.

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The percent option lets you adjust the intensity of the shade.

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Disable this value as you need to replace it with a map to simulate
hatching, or pencil strokes.

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Instead of the blue/gray solid color, apply a Gradient Ramp map
to the Shade Color channel.

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You'll be adjusting the gradient map parameters momentarily but first,
set the Ink Width to 0.5

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Again, you can experiment with this value but thin contour lines
arguably look better.

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Double-click the Gradient Map node to display its parameters.

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If you wish, double-click its sample image to better view the changes
you are about to introduce.

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Set the W Angle value to 45. This will give the hatching a NE/SW direction.

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Double-click the first color flag (on the left) and set it to full white.

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Drag a point above the first color flag to about a third of the way
to the right (Position 33).

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This makes a copy of the white color and ensures a third
of the gradient is solid white.

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Move the third (Gray) flag to position 66.

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You can change the color value to make it a lighter or darker gray,
or you can choose another color altogether.

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Try a blue/green color, RGB values [80,100,100].

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At this time, you can test the material by applying it to objects.
Another method is to override all scene materials with this newly
created one.

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The advantage of this method is that you can revert back to the original
materials if you need to.

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Go to the Render dialog > Processing tab.

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Enable the Material Override option.

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Instance the newly created material into that channel.

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If you tried rendering the scene now, it turns dark.
This is due to the environment settings.

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Go to the Environment dialog.

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Set the Background Color to full white and disable Use Map
on the Environment mr Physical Sky map.

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Disable Exposure control completely.

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Render again. You start to see some results but they are not convincing yet.

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One of the problems is with render quality & anti-aliasing, the other
is with mapping scale.

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In order for the gradient map to be consistent throughout the scene,
all objects must be mapped the same way.

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This can be done by selecting all objects and applying a Map Scaler
(OSM) modifier to them.

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Try rendering again, the hatching looks better.

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You can adjust the coarseness of the hatching by changing the U Tiling

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A bit of trial & error is involved. A value of 3 works well
for this scene.

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To improve render quality, you need to increase Image Precision
(Antialiasing). Set it to Very High (Min 4, Max 64).

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You can disable all other sliders as the scene does not require
Reflections, Refractions, Soft Shadows or even Final Gather.

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Notice how some of the missing lines from earlier are now visible
with the improved antialiasing.

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However, there are still some artifacts around the corner
of the highrise.

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These are happening because some of the polygons on the rounded corners
happen to have multiple smoothing groups.

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One way to fix this is to disable Smoothing Groups
from the Ink properties of the material.

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However, this is global to the whole scene and will remove ink strokes
that you actually want to have.

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A better solution is to adjust the smoothing groups on the building corners.

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Restore the Smoothing Groups option of the Ink n' Paint material.

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Select the highrise and go to Editable Poly > Edge mode.

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Select a vertical edge on a corner, and then click on Loop to select
the whole vertical loop.

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Holding Ctrl, repeat the procedure until you select all four corners.

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Again holding Ctrl, Click the Ring spinners, once on the top,
and once on the bottom.

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This selects three vertical loops for each corner.

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Holding Ctrl, click the Polygon icon to convert the selection.
Now all polygons representing the rounded corners are selected.

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In Smoothing Groups, notice that the selected polygons are part
of smoothing groups 1 and 2.

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Disable both and enable another smoothing group, such as 21 for example.
Any number would do, as long as it doesn't belong to the other sides
of the building.

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Exit Polygon mode, restore the Active Perspective View and render again.

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The artifacts around the corners are now gone.

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Experiment with this technique using your own scenes.

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Remember to have the mental ray engine enabled and to set
the gradient map tiling according to the scene scale.

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Remember also to adjust Smoothing Groups where needed.

Posted By
  • 3ds Max
  • Animation
  • 2011
  • Shading
1 Comment
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| 3 years ago
Wonderful! Thank you very much. I practiced with the kitchen and got nice result