This past Thursday night was my last class at Pratt for a while and, ironically, the same exact last question as last year was asked: how can I use the mr Physical Sky as well as a custom background image at the same time. At the end of the last semester, I did some research and found a solution that seemed to work pretty well (http://bimuzer.com/2010/01/08/3ds-max-2010-viewing-a-background-image-when-using-a-daylight-system-and-a-mental-ray-physical-sky/). So, I tried it again and, oddly, it didn’t work. So, I became somewhat obsessed and worked at this students file for two and a half hours. During this time I found a good, three part tutorial on using the mr Physical Sky here: http://www.mymentalray.com/video.html (the last three videos called Mental Ray Sky Part 1, 2 and 3). The second video specifically mentioned that my method (he didn’t mention me by name), where you drag the mr Physical Sky into an empty slot in the Material Editor, click Use Custom Background Map and insert the image you want to use, is actually incorrect. It’s really just, “placing one image over another,” and is, “blocking the sun,” “and your entire mental ray sky map.” He says the reason for this is that the mr Physical Sky is what’s known as haze driven. Unfortunately, his tutorial had a slightly different outcome than I was looking for in that, and hopefully I’m interpretting this right, he was using a high-contrast image of clouds to create clouds in the background and have it give off light. So, I did some more research and came across another website (I love the Internet): http://jamiecardoso-mentalray.blogspot.com/2010/01/mental-rayvaluable-tips-2.html (the guy who runs this site is one of the authors of Realistic Architectural Visualization Using 3ds Max and mental ray – I have the first edition, but the second edition is now out and available here). In his article, he mentions a map that I’d never used (or really even heard of) before: Environment Background Switcher. So, I modified my own method, some things I learned in the video, and his method to come up with a new method that appears to work. Please note that the following is in 3ds Max Design 2011:
I have the following scene which has no lights, no Daylight System, no mr physical sky in the Environment Map, no Exposure Control Set, all mental ray settings are low and FG Bounces is set to 0:
If I were to render this right now, this is result:
Now if I render, this is the result:
Now if I render, this is the result:
The light still isn’t flowing far enough into the room. We’ll use an mr Sky Portal which gathers sunlight towards it and aims it in whatever direction you choose.
If I were to render now, I’d get this:
Once I increase the following settings from below the Rendered Frame Window (the Global Quality Control Knobs), set the time of day to 5pm, the time of year to 4/30/2010, as well as increase the resolution to 2231 x 1275, I get the final rendered image below.
This process definitely took some time to research and a lot of trial and error (and rendering) so I’d like to thank the various resources that I found on the Internet. Let me know if you have any questions.
I definitely plan on posting about 3ds Max 2011, but I get questions a lot to look at peoples MAX files and the first thing I usually tell them is to archive the file and send it to me. Archiving files in 3ds Max creates a zip file containing not only the MAX file, but also any other files that are associated with it (like other linked MAX files, image files, etc.). Here’s how to archive a file in 3ds max (I’ll be using version 2011, but I don’t believe the process has changed at all):
In the following file I have a simple box with a wood material assigned. The material has an image of Red Birch assigned to it:
The ZIP file created has the MAX file, the image file and a text file with notes about the archive:
Hey All. Well, BIMuzer is finally up and running and I’m very happy it is because you might have noticed some new software releases (the Autodesk 2011 product line) and I’m just itching to comment on it. In the mean time, I wanted to mention that a colleague of mine, James Vandezande (http://allthingsbim.blogspot.com/) with Eddie Krygiel and Phil Read, worked on the upcoming release Mastering Revit 2011. Here’s the link so you could pre-order it: http://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Revit-Architecture-2011-Krygiel/dp/0470626968. Also, don’t forget the book that I worked on, 3ds Max 2010 Architectural Visualization Advanced to Expert which you can order by clicking the cover off to the side. Stay tuned for a new post soon!!
Hey All. My Pratt class ended a few weeks ago and there was one thing that I couldn’t quite get to work in the last class. We were using a daylight system and mental ray physical sky, but wanted to use our own, custom, background image. I promised the students I would research the problem and let them know how to do it. I immediately did some research and found, ironically on a the blog of a friend of mine, the solution. His name is Roger Liucci and his website is Revit Zen at http://revitzen.blogspot.com. Roger gave me permission to write-up his posting so I thank him for that.
First of all, I’m going to assume that you have already added a daylight system and have therefore had 3ds Max automatically insert an mr Physical Sky into the environment map. Once you do this, if you hit render (after adding a plane and box with basic, light-gray materials, and set the time of day to 2pm), it would look like this:
That looks pretty good. If I change the time of day, month, year, geographic location, etc., that background would change accordingly. To change that background to an image of our choice, we need to modify the mr Physical Sky that was placed into the environment map. Here’s how:
1. Click the Rendering pull-down menu and click Environment (you could also have tapped the 8 key on your keyboard).
3. Within the Environment and Effects dialog box, left-click and hold on the ( mr Physical Sky ) button and drag and drop it onto an empty slot within the Material Editor:
4. When the Instance (Copy)… dialog box appears, select Instance and click OK. You select Instance because you want all settings that you change in the Material Editor to have the same settings as the mr Physical Sky within the Environment Map.
5. Select the map you just added to the Material Editor and, when the settings appear below, select the box to the left of the Use Custom Background Map option and then click the None button.
6. When the Material/Map Browser appears, double-click Bitmap.
7. Locate the image file you’d like to use as a background and double-click it.
Roger now writes, “One would think this is all that’s necessary, but it still won’t show up correctly.” He’s absolutely right. If we render it right now, it looks like this:
The next step that Roger wrote was exactly what I had left out when I taught my students (so pay attention):
8. Back within the Environment and Effects dialog box, within the mr Photographic Exposure Control group, underneath where it says Physical Scale, select Unitless and set the value to 100000. If we render it now, it looks like this:
This looks better, but you probably notice that the original horizon is cutting through the image. To get rid of this, follow these steps:
9. Reselect the daylight system and, on the Command Panel, switch to the Modify tab.
10. Scroll down and, within the mr Sky Advanced Paramters group, remove the check next to Aerial Perspective:
If you find that your image is too large, needs to be cropped or needs to be shifted, return to the bitmap settings within the Material Editor and edit any of the settings highlighted within the following image:
Again, thanks VERY much to Roger Liucci of RevitZen (and by the way, here’s the direct link to his post: http://revitzen.blogspot.com/2009/01/visualization-in-max-takes-practice.html). I hope this was helpful to you all and especially to my four students from the Fall ’09 semester.