3ds max – Model a terrain from an Autocad topographical plan file

Software:
3ds max 2019

To model a terrain form an DWG (Autocad) file containing a topographical plan:

  1. Import the DWG file to into the 3ds max scene, and move the plan to the center of the 3ds max scene if necessary.
  2. Select the VIZBlock object and extract its linked geometry:
    Annotation 2019-12-12 181552.jpg
  3. Right click the Linked Geometry object and select:
    Convert To: Editable Spline
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  4. Enter Spline editing mode, select all the splines that are not part of the topography, and delete, or detach them so only the terrain ‘height lines’ will remain.
    Annotation 2019-12-12 182223.jpg
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  5. With the topographical plan editable spline selected,
    Choose Create > Compound Objects > Terrain
    Annotation 2019-12-12 182640.jpg
  6. A Terrain object is now created:
    Annotation 2019-12-12 182716.jpg

To retopologize the terrain mesh to more usable quad polygon mesh:

  1. Create a new Plane primitive above the terrain mesh, slightly smaller at the sides, that has the wanted polygon resolution:
    Annotation 2019-12-12 183519.jpg
  2. From the Top view (important), with the new plane selected, choose:
    Create > Compound Objects > Conform:
    Annotation 2019-12-12 183607.jpg
  3. Set the creation method to ‘Move“, click Pick Wrap-To Object and than click the terrain mesh.
    It will now take some time for the new conformed mesh to be calculated..
    When the new object is ready, right click the viewport to exit the object picking mode.
    Annotation 2019-12-12 184044.jpg
  4. The Conform object is no ready, and contains both the terrain mesh and the new conformed quad polygon mesh:
    Right click it and choose:Convert To: Editable PolyAnnotation 2019-12-12 184552.jpg
  5. In Element editing mode, select the terrain mesh part and delete it to remain only with the new quad polygon mesh:
    Annotation 2019-12-12 184621.jpg
  6. Fix non conformed mesh parts by either moving or deleting them:
    Annotation 2019-12-12 184655Annotation 2019-12-12 184719
  7. The new retopologized terrain is ready:
    Annotation 2019-12-12 184752.jpg

 

The example demonstrated here is a DWG file by Jose Vega, free to download from Bibliocad.com

3ds max & V-Ray – Furry Carpet

Software:
3ds max 2019 | V-Ray Next

A simple example of using VRayFur in 3ds max to create a furry carpet.

Download the example file here

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The VRayFur is grown on a beveled surface, that has no bottom side surface to avoid growing fur at the bottom, and also because it’s unneeded.
The surface is beveled at the edges so that the fur there will grow to the sides,
And a noise modifier is applied to the surface to break its uniformity and give it a more organic shape.
* You could have a bottom surface set the fur not to grow on the bottom polys.Annotation 2019-11-22 185652.jpg

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A combination of 3 procedural Noise maps (for each of the RGB channels) is used to create a direction map for the fur threads. the maps are added together using a VRayCompTex map.
The reason the pattern is separated to it’s RGB channels is that it allows more control.
A VRayFur direction map works like a normal map in tangent-space and this means we can’t have the blue channel be less than a value of 0.5 because that would cause the fur to grow down into the surface.

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For the fur material, a VRayFastSSS2 is used to achieve a ‘fluffy’ organic look combined with a VRayDirt map to accentuate the shadows between the fur threads.

Related posts:
Simple snow material in V-Ray
Wood floor material in V-Ray

tyFlow for 3ds max – Basic Tutorial

Software:
3ds max 2019 | tyFlow

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tyFlow is a new advanced event driven particle / dynamics system plugin for 3ds max that can somewhat be described as the “next generation of Particle Flow*“.
An ‘event driven particle system‘ is a particle system in which the behavior of the particles is defined in ‘events‘. each event contains a collection of ‘operators‘ that control the different aspects of the particle behavior, like their shape, their speed, direction etc. special ‘test operators‘ are used to check if the particles should switch to a different event and so change their behavior.
Setting up an event driven particle system in 3ds max is done through a node based visual interface, in which the nodes in the flow graph are the particle events, each event is a collection of operators and their parameters.

This tutorial demonstrates some fundamental concepts of event driven particles and tyFlow:

  1. Using Property Test operators to switch between different motions and shapes.
  2. Using the PhysX Shape and PhysX Switch operators to switch between physical and non-physical particle behavior.
  3. Spawning new particles and deleting them.

> Note that while understanding the logic of this example is relatively easy, tweaking all the parameters to get it right takes a lot of tests and fine tuning.
Download the example file and playing with the system parameters to get to know how the different operators affect the particles.

Download the tutorial example 3ds max file here

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Explanation of the flow graph:

> To create a tyFlow particle system:
In Command Panel > Create > Standard Primitives,
Click tyFlow, and then click and drag in the viewport to create a tyFlow object.
When the tyFlow object is selected, in the Modify panel press the Open Editor button to open the tyFlow editor. Drag operators from the library below to the work space in order to create a new event containing them, or drag them into existing events.

> Note that almost all of the system’s events contain a Display operator set to Geometry mode so that the particle’s actual animated shapes will be displayed in the viewport, and also a Mesh operator needed for particles to be exported to a render engine for final rendering.

  1. Particles are initially created in event: ‘Birth’ using a Birth Objects Operator, and are immediately sent to the next event: ‘Physical Falling’ by the Send Out operator.
    > The Birth Objects operator is used to initialize particles directly from scene objects.
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    Initial setup of the spheres as sources of particles for the Birth Objects operator:Untitled-3
  2. The event titled ‘Physical Falling’ is the only event in the system in which the particles behave as PhysX objects who’s motion is governed by physical simulation i.e they fall and collide with the slide model (named Box001).
    The PhysX Shape operator turns the particles into physical simulation objects, and the PhysX Collision operator adds the slide model as a collision object to the simulation.
    A Property Test operator checks if the falling balls fell below -35 in the Z axis, and if so sends them to the event titled ‘Rocket Upward’.
    > Note that in the PhysX Collision operator, the Hull Type of the slide model is set to Mesh rather than Convex to allow the sphere particles to slide inside the slide (a convex hull type would behaves as if it’s filled making the balls fall to the sides)Untitled-5.jpg
    > Note that in the tyFlow PhysX settings, the default ground collider has been disabled to allow the balls to fall freely below the 0.0 Z axis position.Untitled-6
    > The (standard) Shape Operator and Speed operators are in this event in order to reset the shape and speed of particles in case they entered this event after already having different shapes ans speeds.
  3. The event titled ‘Rocket Upwards’ uses a PhysX Switch operator to deactivate the particles participation in physical simulation, assigns them a new (rocket shape),
    A Force operator referring to a tyWind object causes the particles to accelerate upwards, and a Spawn operator to have each original particle spawn new particles as the rocket trail.
    A Property Test operator checks if the particles have reach a height of 200 and if so sends them to the event titled ‘Chopper back to start’.
    > Note that the Slow, and Rotation operators are in this event to force the particles back to default orientation so the rockets will be aimed upwards.
    > The Spawn operator creates new particles and at the original particle location and sends them to the event titled ‘Rocket flare’.Untitled-8.jpg
    rocket_ball_switch
  4. The event titled ‘Chopper back to start’ assigns the particles a new ‘little chopper’ animated shape, and uses a Force operator to make them affected by the tyWind object pointing back to the start.
    > Note that the Shape operator has the Animated Geometry option checked, and set to sync by particle age. the animation speed is played back 3 times faster than the original animation.
    > A Property Test operator checks if the particles Y position higher than -150 and if so sends the particles to the event titled ‘find drop location’.untitled-9.jpg
  5. The event titled ‘find drop location’ uses a Find Target test operator to make the particles move to the Point Helper object located above the slide and when they have reached it send them back to the event titled ‘Physical falling’ where they start their journey all over again.
    > Note that the Slow operator slows the particles velocity that was inherited for the previous event so they wont overshoot and ‘fly’ further beyond the point helper.Untitled-10.jpg
  6. The event titled ‘Rocket flare’ defines the shape, speed and direction of the spawned rocket trail particles and uses a Time Test operator to check if the trail particles have existed more than 3 frames and if so send them to the event titles ‘Delete Flare’
    Untitled-11
  7. The event titles ‘Delete Flare’ uses a Delete operator to delete the trail particles.

System setup with the tyWind objects responsible for moving the particles in the non-physical events of the system, and a Point helper object that serves as a ‘find target’ for the particles to get back to the initial location above the slide:

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Particle shapes for the ‘Rocket Upward’, ‘Chopper back to start’ and ‘find drop location’ events.
Note that the shape pivots are consistently at the center of the ball for the shape switching to work well, and that the ‘chopper’ animation is done at the mesh level using Poly Select and XForm:

rocket_balls_shapes

* Particle Flow is a powerful event driven particle system that was originally developed by ThinkBox software, ans later bacame 3ds max’s built in particle system.

Arnold for 3ds max – Render objects as volumes (volume shading)

Software:
3ds max 2019 | Arnold 5

In-order for objects in 3ds max to be rendered as volumes with Arnold, the object mesh has to be converted to a volume, and a Standard Volume material assigned to the object:

  1. Add an Arnold Properties modifier to the object.
  2. Under Volume set the Step Size to a value higher than 0.0.
    Untitled-4
  3. Assign a Standard Volume material to the object and set it’s parameters to design the volumetric effect:
    Untitled-2

Examples:

* Note that both Density and Depth control the transparency or ‘thickness’ of the volume. (lower Depth setting creates a thicker volume)
* When Scattering is set to 0.0 the volume will have only a absorption effect

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In this example an Arnold Noise map is connected to the Standard Volume‘s Density parameter:
* Note that the Scale values must be set correctly in order to actually get a ‘cloudy’ effect.
* Note that the noise color values are now controlling the Density of the volume.

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Related:
Arnold for 3ds max God Rays

 

Arnold for 3ds max – Volumetric Fog and ‘God Rays’

Software:
3ds max 2019 | Arnold 5

a

Adding a ‘Volume Light’ effect in Arnold for 3ds max is fairly simple:

  1. In the Render Setup windows > Arnold Renderer tab, under Environment, Background & Atmosphere:
  2. Click the Scene Atmosphere material slot, add an Arnold Atmosphere Volume material to it,
    And drag it as an instance to the Material Editor to edit it’s parameters.
    Untitled-3
  3. Set the Density to a higher than 0.0 value, so the material will have an effect.
  4. You’ll probably need to significantly raise the number of samples in the Atmosphere Volume material, and also the number of Volume samples in the light settings in order to get a clean render.

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Related:
Arnold for 3ds max Volume Shading

V-Ray for 3ds max Wood Floor Material

Software:
3ds max 2019 | V-Ray Next

An example of varnished wood floor material in V-Ray and 3ds max.
The material uses a VRayBlendMtl with 2 connected VRayMtl sub materials to simulate a natural wood base layer coated by a glossy varnish layer.

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Explanation of the material node graph:50770279_2476404922388832_853261524695777280_o.jpg

  1. The wood color (Diffuse texture)
  2. The wood black and white detail texture (used to add reflection detail)
  3. The wood bump texture (actually the same as the reflection texture just color corrected to whiten most details except the lines separating the wood planks)
  4. The reflection texture is color corrected to to intensify it prior to it being connected to the base wood layer material:
    Untitled-1
  5. The reflection texture is color corrected to to decrease its intensity prior to it being connected to the varnish coat blend:
    Untitled-1
  6. The base layer natural wood material with the Diffuse, Reflect and Bump textures connected to it:
    Untitled-2.jpg
  7. The varnish coat material with the Bump texture connected to it:
    * Note the Fresnel Reflections is turned off because the Fresnel reflection is calculated by the Falloff map (8)
    Untitled-2.jpg
  8. The Falloff map that defines the amount with which the varnish coat material covers the base wood material,
    A combination of Fresnel reflection intensity/Angle with the pre-processed reflection detail map (5):
    Untitled-3.jpg
  9. The final VRayBlendMtl combining the base wood material with the varnish coat material using the Fresnel Falloff blend map:
    Untitled-1.jpg

 

Related posts:

  1. Fresnel Reflections

Simple Snow Material in VRay for 3ds max

Software:
3ds max 2019 | V-Ray Next

A simple way to create a snow material in V-Ray for 3ds max is to combine a VRayFastSSS2 material with a VRayFlakesMtl using a VRayBlendMtl.
The VRayFastSSS2 creates the soft translucent shading for the snow, and the VRayFlakesMtls adds sparkling highlights.

  • Note that depending on the scene and view scale,
    The VRayFlakesMtls ‘flake glossiness’, ‘flake density’ and ‘flake size’ have to be tweaked to achieve the wanted result.

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