Creating City Blocks in 3ds Max - Part 12 - Lighting

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Industry
  • Design Visualization
Subject
  • Animation
  • Modeling
  • Scripting
  • 2014
  • Environment
  • Workflow
Products
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
Duration
8 min

Creating City Blocks in 3ds Max - Part 12 - Lighting

In this tutorial, you use the Daylight System to light the scene. The Daylight System has been shown in many a tutorial on this channel, so the explanation will be brief. You will however replace the background gradient with a custom bitmap to simulate clouds.

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

Transcript

1
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Before adding more detail and tiling the city blocks, let's do a test render.

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If you need to, open the file named: CityBlocks_Roads-lighting.max to follow along.

3
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Zoom in on the first city block and create a Target Camera along the center road.

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If the top view is maximized, press Alt+W to go back to a 4-viewport configuration.

5
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Activate the perspective view and change it to show the camera POV.

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Remember that you can press C to set a view to a Camera in the scene, and P to set it to a free perspective.

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Currently the camera and its target are sitting on the ground.

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Using the Move tool, set the camera's Z-position to 1.8m. That's about six feet high.

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Leave the Target alone for now.

10
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Render the camera view. There's obviously some work that needs to be done.

11
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On the one hand, the black background is quite unappealing, but also, the road markings seem to go bad in the distance.

12
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You'll get to the road markings in a moment but first, you'll work on lighting and background.

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From the Create > Systems panel, click the Daylight button.

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A dialog appears suggesting that you should use Exposure Control,which is standard when using the daylight system.

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Click Yes to accept and dismiss the dialog.

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Click and drag in the top view to create a rose compass, and then drag a bit more to set the Orbital Scale.

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Set the hour of day to 14 (or 2pm). You'll be able to change that as you move ahead with your project.

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In the Modify panel, set the Sunlight to work in mr Sun mode. This makes sense since you are using the mental ray renderer.

19
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Set also the Skylight to mr Sky. Again, this is the best option to use in conjunction with the mr renderer.

20
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A prompt suggests that you should use the mr Physical Sky type, click Yes to proceed.

21
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The mr Physical Sky uses a gradient that changes color based on the time of day.

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It looks good with clear skies but to make it a bit more believable, you will use a custom background with clouds.

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Open the Environment and Effects dialog.

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You can use the Render window to that effect. You can also use the Rendering menu or press 8 on the keyboard.

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Open the Material Editor as well.

26
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In order to minimize potential errors, switch from the Roads view to View1.

27
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There is an unused material in there that was previously applied to the reference plane.

28
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Go ahead and delete it, you won't need it anymore.

29
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Drag the mr Physical Sky map from the environment dialog into the material editor as an instance so you can edit it.

30
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Drag out the Background Map socket and choose Bitmap.

31
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Use the image: clouds_360.jpg that you downloaded for this tutorial.

32
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Actually, this is not a true spherical map, but rather a hemisphere.

33
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Double-click the new bitmap node to adjust its properties.

34
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First set it to work in Environment mode as a spherical environment.

35
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Since this bitmap is only a hemisphere, you need to make a few adjustments to make it work.

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Set the V tiling to 2. This effectively says you want the image to affect both the north and south hemispheres of your virtual environment.

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Next, set the V Offset to 0.25 to ensure the "equator" is a "tile divider line".

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If you were to render the camera view at this time, you still won't be able to see the effect of the clouds image.

39
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For that, you first need to double-click the mr Physical Sky node, and enable: Use Custom Background Map.

40
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Try a new render.

41
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If the horizon line is a tad too high, you can adjust the V-tiling and V-Offset values.

42
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In this movie, we'll use 1.9 and 0.24 respectively.

43
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Needless to say that a true 360-degree spherical map would work better as you would not need to make those adjustments.

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However, they are harder to come by (or create), so this will do for our needs.

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Next you adjust the road markings and their distance-blur properties.

46
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You can help by increasing the Anti-Aliasing quality but that in itself is not enough, and it does increase render time.

47
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The alternative is to adjust the bitmap properties.

48
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In the Material Editor, go back to the Roads view.

49
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There are twelve road markings bitmaps used in the material definition.

50
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Zoom in on the top one and double-click it.

51
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Note the Blur value with a default value of 1 in the Coordinates rollout.

52
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This is what affects distance blur. A smaller value makes the bitmap crisper.

53
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However, you typically don't want to go too low as a bitmap that is too crisp often shows jagged edges.

54
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You could change the individual blur values of the twelve bitmaps or you can set a single node to control all of them.

55
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Right-click and choose to add a Bezier Float Controller.

56
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To wire it to the blur value of the first bitmap, you first need to expose that value.

57
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Right-click the bitmap node and choose Show/Hide Slots > Additional Params > Coordinates > Blur

58
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Now expand the node until you see the Blur value.

59
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Connect the Controller to it.

60
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Next, expose the blur value of the second bitmap.

61
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Connect the same controller to it.

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Now the controller acts as an instance. A value changed at the controller level changes the blur value of the connected bitmaps.

63
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Repeat for all road markings bitmaps to ensure that one float controller is master to all their blur values.

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Set the blur value to 0.2 across the board and try another test render.

65
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This looks better, although understandably, the scene is still awfully bare.

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Obviously, you still need to populate the city blocks with buildings, but there's still some work to be done before you get there.

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In fact, there are some important urban components that are still missing.

68
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Things like light poles, traffic lights, mailboxes, fire hydrants and even bus shelters can go a long way to make the scene more believable.

69
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Save your file. This wraps up the road works section of this tutorial series.

70
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In the next movie, you start with the next installment, which shows you how to merge and place Urban Design Components.

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Tags
  • 3ds Max
  • Animation
  • Modeling
  • Scripting
  • 2014
  • Environment
  • Workflow
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