Creating Water Ripple Effects in 3ds Max - Part 4 - Adding Materials

Login to Follow
  • Film & VFX
  • Games
  • Design Visualization
  • Animation
  • Dynamics
  • 2014
  • Simulation and Effects
  • Workflow
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
9 min

Creating Water Ripple Effects in 3ds Max - Part 4 - Adding Materials

In this tutorial, bring your scene to life by adding materials to the objects creating light reflections and refractions to give the impression of a natural-setting.


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


00:00:06 --> 00:00:12
Continue working on your scene or open the scene flex-materials.max if you need to catch up.

00:00:13 --> 00:00:20
If you're using the flex-materials.max scene, chances are your working folder is different from the system used to record this movie.

00:00:21 --> 00:00:26
This means you will probably need to reload the appropriate cache file you downloaded along with the scene.

00:00:27 --> 00:00:31
Simply select the water surface and click the Point Cache modifier.

00:00:32 --> 00:00:37
Click the Load button and load the file: Ripples.xml

00:00:39 --> 00:00:45
As in the trailer, you will use mental ray materials as they work best with the mental ray renderer.

00:00:46 --> 00:00:53
You will start with the arrow. Go to about frame 30 or 45 to get a better look at it.

00:00:54 --> 00:01:01
As mentioned before, each arrow animation in the trailer is actually made of two narrow arrows traveling on two adjacent paths.

00:01:02 --> 00:01:06
For simplicity purposes, you are dealing here with only one arrow.

00:01:06 --> 00:01:11
You can still give it a two-color look by adjusting the material accordingly.

00:01:11 --> 00:01:18
The render in the trailer makes use of a white and blue material. Here, we'll use white and red.

00:01:19 --> 00:01:21
Go to the Slate Material Editor.

00:01:22 --> 00:01:29
Drag in an Arch & Design mental ray material. This is the most common type you use with the mental ray renderer.

00:01:29 --> 00:01:32
Double-click the new material to see its properties.

00:01:33 --> 00:01:35
Name it Arrowhead.

00:01:39 --> 00:01:46
In the Template list, choose the Matte or Pearl options. Let's not make the arrow particularly shiny.

00:01:46 --> 00:01:52
Drag the output socket and drop it on the arrow to apply the newly created material.

00:01:53 --> 00:01:58
To change the default dull gray into a mix or red and white, you will use a Gradient Ramp map.

00:01:59 --> 00:02:06
Drag out the Diffuse Color Map In-Socket and choose to add a Standard > Gradient Ramp map.

00:02:07 --> 00:02:11
Double-click its node so you can edit its properties.

00:02:13 --> 00:02:17
To see the effect in the viewport, enable Show Shaded Material in Viewport.

00:02:18 --> 00:02:26
At this time it's a little hard to see. Double-click and change the two colors at the edges of the gradient ramp to red and blue.

00:02:26 --> 00:02:31
This is only temporary so you can make out how the gradient is affecting the object.

00:02:32 --> 00:02:35
This gives you a better idea about how the map is applied.

00:02:35 --> 00:02:39
Even better, select and isolate the arrow.

00:02:44 --> 00:02:51
Go to the Modify panel and turn off the Path Deform and Taper modifiers to take a look at the basic box.

00:02:52 --> 00:02:58
The gradient is a bit more predictable but the edges still seem to have a slight bleed problem.

00:02:58 --> 00:03:05
Make sure the base Box entry is selected in the Modifier Stack and apply a UVW Map modifier.

00:03:06 --> 00:03:09
By default the mapping is equal in size to the box.

00:03:10 --> 00:03:15
Make the Mapping Width a bit bigger to ensure there are no more color bleeds.

00:03:16 --> 00:03:21
Also, you want the gradient to run in the other direction, along with the arrow trajectory.

00:03:22 --> 00:03:27
Set the W Angle value to 90 to get that result.

00:03:27 --> 00:03:36
Now you can change the red and blue colors to your liking. In this demo, I'll use a dark red color at both edges of the gradient.

00:03:37 --> 00:03:42
Once you set one flag color, you can copy it to another.

00:03:48 --> 00:03:52
You can also add more flags to fine-tune the gradient look.

00:03:55 --> 00:03:59
This will do for now as far as material color is concerned.

00:04:02 --> 00:04:07
A closer look at the trailer shows a certain amount of fade in the tail of the arrows.

00:04:08 --> 00:04:12
This can be achieved with another gradient assigned as a cutout map.

00:04:13 --> 00:04:19
Drag out the Cutout Map In-Socket and choose Standard > Gradient Ramp yet again.

00:04:19 --> 00:04:25
Enable Show Shaded Material in Viewport to see how this map is affecting the object.

00:04:26 --> 00:04:36
A cutout map works mostly with grayscale values. If the pixel is white, the object is opaque. If the pixel is black, the object is transparent.

00:04:37 --> 00:04:40
Anywhere in between will have a degree of transparency.

00:04:40 --> 00:04:44
Double-click the new map node to edit the gradient.

00:04:45 --> 00:04:52
Adjust the gradient so you have more white towards the front and more black towards the tail of the arrow.

00:05:02 --> 00:05:07
When you're done, re-enable the modifiers and exit Isolate mode.

00:05:10 --> 00:05:14
Test-render the scene to see the results and how the arrow tail fades out.

00:05:15 --> 00:05:18
Next you work on the water surface.

00:05:19 --> 00:05:22
Drag a new Arch & Design material into the viewer.

00:05:22 --> 00:05:25
Double-click its node and name it: Water.

00:05:26 --> 00:05:28
Apply it to the water surface.

00:05:29 --> 00:05:35
Although there are templates for water in the Arch & Design material, you will adjust this material from scratch.

00:05:35 --> 00:05:40
This is not ocean water you're dealing with, just a bit of water in a shallow pool.

00:05:40 --> 00:05:46
Set the Reflectivity all the way up to 1. You want the water surface to be reflective.

00:05:47 --> 00:05:54
Also set the Transparency all the way up to 1. You want the water to be clear, transparent and refractive.

00:05:55 --> 00:06:03
Next set the Diffuse color to black. Water color comes from reflective and refractive color filters.

00:06:04 --> 00:06:08
Set the Reflective and Refractive colors to shades of aqua blue.

00:06:19 --> 00:06:27
Finally, set the BRDF controls to work in IOR or Index of Refraction mode.

00:06:27 --> 00:06:35
By adjusting the IOR value in the refraction group, you can control the amount of distortion you get looking through the water.

00:06:35 --> 00:06:39
A render at this time would certainly not look good.

00:06:39 --> 00:06:44
One reason is the lack of convincing lights in the scene, the other is even simpler to understand:

00:06:45 --> 00:06:51
The water is fully transparent and there's nothing to see behind it except a black background.

00:06:51 --> 00:06:54
You need another surface underneath the water.

00:06:55 --> 00:07:04
In the top view, create another plane object, slightly bigger that the water surface. About 2.5x2.5 meters should do.

00:07:05 --> 00:07:13
It doesn't need to be too detailed, 4x4 divisions should be fine. If you experience render artifacts later on, you can increase the segments.

00:07:14 --> 00:07:18
Move it down a little bit so that it's underneath the water surface.

00:07:19 --> 00:07:23
Create an Arch and Design material for it.

00:07:25 --> 00:07:29
Make it a Matte finish and name it: Pool Floor.

00:07:32 --> 00:07:35
Apply the material to the new object.

00:07:37 --> 00:07:45
Render again. Now you can see something although it doesn't look great just yet.

00:07:46 --> 00:07:50
This will look much better with proper lighting but we're not done with materials just yet.

00:07:51 --> 00:07:59
The trailer uses a caustic effect to account for shallow waters. Here, you will use a bitmap to simulate the pool floor.

00:08:00 --> 00:08:08
In the Diffuse Color Map slot, assign a bitmap and use the file Mosaic.jpg you downloaded for this tutorial.

00:08:10 --> 00:08:15
Set the tiling to about 6x6 and render again.

00:08:18 --> 00:08:23
It's starting to look better and you can see the effect of refractive distortion.

00:08:24 --> 00:08:29
You can adjust the distortion by playing with the IOR value.

00:08:38 --> 00:08:42
A value of 1 offers no distortion.

00:08:44 --> 00:08:49
The higher the value above 1, the greater the distortion.

00:08:49 --> 00:08:52
Let's use 1.5 in this demo.

00:08:53 --> 00:08:58
You're done with the materials but the scene still doesn't look convincing at render time.

00:08:58 --> 00:09:02
You still need to define the lights that will make the ripples stand out.

00:09:03 --> 00:09:04
This is what you do in the next movie.

Posted By
  • 3ds Max
  • Animation
  • Dynamics
  • 2014
  • Simulation and Effects
  • Workflow
To post a comment please login or register