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Tutorials\ Rendering

Light and Render an Arch-Viz Style Outdoor Scene with V-Ray and 3ds Max
Laurens Corijn on Jul 10th 2009 with 40 comments submit Apart from the default render engines that come with 3ds Max, several extra renderers are available. Of all the 3rd party renders on the market, however, V-Ray has proven time and time again to be the most popular. In this tutorial, you will be introduced to lighting and rendering an outdoor scene with V-Ray in 3DS Max. This tutorial will walk you through the process of taking a finished model from it’s default rendered appearance, to a correctly set-up, and realistically lit final result. You will learn the basic V-Ray settings, that should always be set up for any scene, how to use a Gamma correct workflow, how to set lighting and global illumination settings, and how to optimize those settings. Note: This tutorial is meant to introduce a user, familiar with basic rendering in 3DS Max, to using V-Ray in a correct workflow. It will not teach you how to model the scene used in the images, as that is not our focus. The software used will be 3DS Max 2009 together with V-Ray 1.5, but using another version of 3DS Max should not be a problem, although minor differences in settings might be necessary. You can download the project file from the following link if you would like to look at (or play with) the settings, but you will need to have the above mentioned software to open it.

Project File

Final Effect Preview

Step 1
First of all, when rendering scenes with realistic global illumination, it is very important to work with gamma-correct settings. In short, this means we adjust 3DS Max’s settings to display brightness levels as you perceive them in real life. Go to “Customize” > “Preferences”, and select the “Gamma and LUT” tab. Any settings that you need to change, or pay attention to, will always be marked with a red border. It is very important to make sure that your screen or videocard display settings are set so that the gamma preview image blends together as one single grey value when viewed from a distance.

Step 2
Next, go to “Rendering” > “Render Setup” (F10 on your keyboard). The “Common” tab should be active. Scroll all the way down, and open the “Assign Renderer” rollout. Hit the button next to the name of the “Production:” renderer to get a list of installed render engines. Choose “V-Ray 1.50″ from the list and hit OK. The tabs in the “Render Settings” dialog should change to include, among others, a “V-Ray” tab.

I chose this subject because it was easy to model. but it is not really important since we will change this in a few steps anyway. . yet still looks interesting enough as a subject for this tutorial. My scene is Tod Williams’ 1978 Tarlo House in Suffolk County. You will notice “V-Ray” renders with small squares running across your render. NY. close the “Render Settings”. these are called ‘buckets’. or hitting ’8′ on your keyboard. Hit ‘F9′ to start a first test render with “V-Ray”. You might notice that my background color is grey instead of black. You can do the same via “Rendering” > “Environment”.Step 3 For now.

You don’t have to use “Catmull-Rom”. and “Mitchell-Netravali” are also okay. to bring up the “Render Settings” window. and go to the “V-Ray” tab. “Lanczos”.Step 4 The first thing you should always do when setting up rendering. The rollout we want is the “Image sampler” (Antialiasing) rollout. is change your “Antialiasing” filter. which looks blurry and unsharp compared to other more advanced ones. but I prefer the crisp look “Catmull-Rom” gives me. Change the drop down for the filter from “Area” to “Catmull-Rom”. “Area” is the default filter. . Hit ‘F10′ again.

and render again by hitting ‘F9′.Step 5 Close the “Render Settings”. The difference in changing the “Antialiasing” filter should be visible already. .

try to find a camera angle that is aesthetically pleasing. You can switch a viewport back to perspective mode by hitting ‘P’ while in it.Step 6 Next. you will set up a camera. . you can create a camera from a view by pressing “Ctrl + C” in a perspective viewport. So. Hitting ‘C’ will return the viewport back to camera mode. In 3ds Max. This creates a default 3ds Max Camera. as you should be able to see from other views. or present you with a list of camera’s if there are multiple cameras in the scene. and hit “Ctrl + C”.

The main reason you should use it is because you have more realistic control over your renders. Now. Create a “Physical Camera” at about the same location as the standard camera. and ISO values. since their default values are meant to work with the “Physical Camera”. and you won’t have to tweak your “V-Ray” light settings. and change the drop down to “VRay”.Step 7 “V-Ray” has a special. shutter speed. Do the same thing with the “Physical Camera’s” target. go to the “Cameras” section. use the “Align” tool (highlighted red in the top left corner) to align your “Physical Camera” to the standard camera. This camera behaves like a real-life camera with F-number. In the “Primitives” tab. . called a “V-Ray Physical Camera”. proprietary camera.

This is because the brightness the “Vray Physical Camera” expects from lights is much higher than the default brightness of standard 3ds Max lights. Now hit ‘F9′ to test render again. Change your view to look through your new “V-Ray Physical Camera”. You should immediately see that our render has gone a lot darker. This is actually normal. since “V-Ray” adapts it’s “Antialiasing” quality based on brightness and contrast (remember the “Adaptive subdivision” sampler from the “Antialiasing” rollout). You will also notice the “Antialiasing” quality has gone down.Step 8 Delete the standard camera (you won’t need it anymore). .

Step 9 To fix your brightness problem. at the center of your scene. The size of this object does not matter. The advantage of this system is that it has an easy interface for correct sun positions and movement. Once created. Go to the “Systems” button. and create a “Daylight” object. . of the “Create” tab. We are going to use a “Daylight” system to create a sunlight in our scene. you need to set up some lights. you can rotate it to change the compass direction.

. instead of a standard light. Select this light. The “Skylight” is not an object in “V-Ray”. and disable the “Skylight”. called the “Assembly Head”. this is not necessary. however. Remember that adjusting the “VraySun’s” parameters happens through here. Since we are using a “Physical Camera”.Step 10 The “Daylight” system automatically created a sunlight attached to it. as the default values will work fine. but a render setting (we will talk more on this later). and change the highlighted drop downs to use a “VraySun”.

. What is interesting here. by using the “Time” settings. Click “Get Location”. go to the “Motion” tab. and click on a location on the world map to select it. Here you will change the sun’s “azimuth” and “altitude” to your liking. NY.Step 11 With the “Daylight Assembly Head” selected. is that you can also select a location somewhere on earth and the daylight system will automatically adjust the sun to behave like on that location. I used the approximate location of “Suffolk County”.

hit ‘F9′ to test render again.Step 12 Once you have a basic set up. to find a sun position that is to your liking. feel free to make more test renders. With a default “VraySun”. At this point. and a default “Physical Camera”. your result should look like below. .

we will go for an “F-number” of ’16′. . so select your “Physical Camera” to change some of its settings.” So in our case. and a “Shutter Speed” of ’125′ (a small deviation is fine). and shutter speed to the ISO film speed. and the higher the “ISO”. These numbers are a starting point for further tweaking. are the most important ones for the moment. In real life. There are quite a few. “Shutter Speed”. Keep the following in mind regarding these three settings: the lower the “Fnumber”. and “Film Speed” (ISO).Step 13 The previous renders were a little overblown. but “F-number”. an “ISO” of ’100′. there is a rule in photography called the “Sunny 16 rule”. the brighter your image will be. set aperture to f/16. the lower the “Shutter Speed”. This rule states “On a sunny day.

You will also probably notice that your shadows are completely black. You will notice the scene got darker.Step 14 Render again. This is because we have not activated a “Skylight” with “Indirect Illumination” yet. and now seems a bit under lit. Once we do this. we will get much more realistic lighting results. .

as mentioned earlier. . Change the color from a slight blue.Step 15 Open your “Render Settings” again. This is how you activate a skylight in “V-Ray”. Enable the “GI Environment” (skylight) override by checking the tickbox. open the “Environment” rollout. to white. In the “V-Ray” tab.

It is important to lower the quality of the “Irradiance” map (a method for calculating “Indirect Illumination”) for test rendering purposes. This will reduce render times by a magnitude of up to ’4′. Just change the dropdown to “Low” instead of “High”. . Phase” tickbox tells “V-Ray” to show you what it does while pre-calculating the “Irradiance” map. making rendering less boring to look at. there is no need to complicate things.Step 16 Next. with more than adequate visual results for previewing. Checking the “Show Calc. This tab has a wealth of options and possibilities. go to the “Indirect Illumination” tab. Activate it by checking the tickbox in the upper left corner. as default settings will mostly work fine. but for this tutorial.

Step 17 Time to render again. you should see a result that’s starting to look more like what we want. Shadows are not pure black anymore. After a render. is how the light seems to reflect a little bit too strongly in some corners. . with an interesting pre-pass or two. The only problem on the image below. and the lighting generally became a lot more interesting to look at.

as it is not the focus of this tutorial. The settings for this reflective material are highlighted. This is almost never a good idea. red. To make the scene a little bit more interesting. . Change the material color to a warm white value. until now. or blue on an object is not done. You can skip this step if you like. the material in the scene was pure white. To change a standard material. just as using pure black.Step 18 The strong light reflection is because. assign a “VrayMaterial” with reflections enabled to the windows. green. click the material name in the top right. and select a “VrayMtl” from the list that is presented.

. as the strong light bounce is almost completely gone.Step 19 Render again. The results of the newly chosen materials should be obvious.

blueish white as balance can warm the image colors up. you can increase the vignetting value a bit more. Playing with the shutter speed will show that a value of ’90′ looks best (remember that lowering shutter speed increases the image brightness). Adjust the white balance to your liking. orange-ish white as balance will cool the image colors down. Optionally.Step 20 The previous image is still a little bit under lit. The default blueish white makes for a result that is much too warm. to make the darkened vignet edges more obvious. while choosing a cold. so change this color to a warmer white. choosing a warm. .

Step 21 Time for another test render. the final result is what matters. We can now start increasing the settings for our final image. The changes should once again be obvious. but instead of spending a lot of time on this in 3ds Max. in 3D. so if getting there through Photoshop is easier and faster. then there is no reason not to do so! . and can do with some more balancing of the brightness levels. This render might still be a little bit under lit. and this result should be adequate enough to end our test rendering phase. Remember. we will opt to change these settings in Photoshop afterwards.

This tells “V-Ray” to locally increase the lighting quality where necessary. the more necessary this option becomes). “Detail enhancement” also adds quite a lot to render times. . it is almost a must (the smaller and the more geometric detail your object has. instead of “Medium” or “High” in some occasions. an “Irradiance” map setting of “Medium” should do the job most of the time.Step 22 Go back to the “Indirect Illumination” settings. but in certain cases. A setting of “High” should only be used when absolutely necessary. as it increases render times almost to a disproportionate level. An interesting way of increasing quality is by enabling “Detail enhancement”. and can even allow for a “Low” preset to be used. For higher quality renders.

. I chose for a more dramatic wide shot here.Step 23 Change your camera angle so it is a bit more to your liking.

save it. Step 25 Once you’re happy with your render quality. and then open it in Photoshop. using “Image” > “Auto Color”. It would have been a lot more difficult to tweak the settings to look the same without “Gamma correction”. “Image” > “Auto Levels” or “Auto Contrast” might also work. I saved the image without “Gamma correction”. Especially the “Indirect Illumination” suffers from not using “Gamma correction”. Feel free to try anything else you want in Photoshop. but “Fading” them might prove necessary either way. In this case. and resolution.Step 24 To illustrate the effect of “Gamma correct” settings and workflow. . and then blended between the two. and then “Edit” > “Fade Auto Color” to 50% should prove enough to fix the levels.

Final Result Click on the image to open a High-Rez version. published daily – subscribe to Cgtuts+ by RSS. Follow us on Twitter or simply recommend us to friends and colleagues! submit . Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed. Don’t miss more CG tutorials and guides.

Notice the noise though in the dark shadowed areas. real-time. Kid says: July 10. Join Now Top of Form Sign In Bottom of Form July 10. I've been doing CG for 4 years now. rollout? Reply ○ Laurens Corijn says: July 10. Bonus Tutorials & More for all relevant Tuts+ sites in one subscription. Hows does one go about getting rid of that? Do I have to up my sampling in the G. Plus Premium Hello! You can grab source files and bonus tutorials from the members area. 2009 at 12:20 pm . 2009 at 9:51 am Can you show me a tut of Vray using C4D… Reply 1. Premium Members Source Files. I equally enjoy working on high-end rendering.I. and riding and maintaining my motorcycle. and 2009 at 11:04 am Thanks for the tutorial. My website can be found at: laurenscorijn. Besides doing CG.By Laurens Corijn Rollover to read this author's bio or click through to see a full list of posts by this author. a recent Digital Arts & Entertainment graduate from Belgium. mainly focusing on mechanical subjects such as vehicles. video game art. I like to spend my time listening to music. I'm Laurens Corijn.

going up to High Irradiance map presets would fix this.Yes. 2009 at 8:40 am Not to worry. greetings Reply 3. Yannick says: July 14. especially with Detail Enhancement enabled. lictor alpha says: July 10. For an animation this would not be a solution. 2009 at 12:22 pm tnx. excessID says: July 11. the only fix being increasing the quality until the noise is gone. Kep in mind that this noise is even less visible on a textured scene: the noise blends in with the noise in the textures. i hope to see something as this for rhinoceros and vray or for maya and mental ray. 2009 at 5:56 am There are great tutorials. 2009 at 6:03 am Nice basic tutorial but I’ve got a few remarks: . More Maya tuts on the way very very soon!! Reply 4. why i am missing maya too much? Reply ○ Kaleb Aylsworth says: July 12. Reply 2.

it’s my fav feature in VRAY. they don’t even know WHY you chose Brute force & Imap instead of light cache for example. I mean. 2009 at 9:22 am . you sound like you want to prove you know more about Vray than me. I don’t elaborate on everything (like the GI engines) since this is a basic tutorial. without too much unneeded explaining on settings that don’t matter (yet). I mean. 2009 at 5:57 am I agree on some points: Yes. I honestly think you are the one who’s missing the point that this is meant as an absolute basic introductory tutorial. since camera settings make a whole lot more sense than Color-mapping settings (especially for beginners).. not meant to confuse a total beginner at all. Just my 2 cents and again. In my opinion it is better to first understand why you are using something instead of just following along. This tutorial is meant to put people on their way and showing them the CORRECT way of working with Vray. no offence. No offence but this tutorial is not exactly the best thing to follow for real beginners. The correct way also means that you should at least initially try work with reallife camera settngs instead of color-mapping. just playing around with some of the settings over there gives good results instead of tweaking camera settings. Especially when scenes are over lit or to dark.Why did you start by choosing the anti-alias filter frist. you obviously know what you’re doing but beginners just don’t think like that Reply ○ Laurens Corijn says: July 17. I use it like always. Leaving settings at default works for a lot of stuff in Vray and can produce excellent renders. you can’t know up front which kind of renderproblems you’ll get. Reply  Yannick says: July 17.? Why didn’t you even mention Color Mapping. And I do take a little offence form your post.. doing what the guy in the tutorial tells you to do.

2009 at 8:17 am thanx perfect I’v been looking 4 this tutorial . 2009 at 12:32 pm Great…i mean…G R E A T Tut!!! Reply 6. not at school but by browsing through tuts online and on dvd’s. You started off great by explaining the gamma 2.2 settings. Beginners need to grasp all the settings one by one you use during the process. Sorry you found my reply offending. not a few tutorials later. But vray and rendering as a whole is a complex process if you want to do it right. something most beginner tutorials don’t even mention.Well I wasn’t aiming at offending you. That’s the only thing missing in your tutorial. Tiago says: July 22. It was very confusing because most tutorials didn’t even explain why you’d had to chose a certain setting. I’m not saying I know more about VRAY than you. 2009 at 2:35 am thank you so much Reply great light! 7. 3Daniel says: August 23. 5. I’ve learned it the hard way. It is my personal opinion that you need to know why you are selecting a setting right from the start. MalakoO says: September 7. I study Architecture and I make architectural renders at least once a week. you can figure out more on your own. just trying to give some advise for next tutorials. I’m only speaking from my own experience with the software. Once you understand how things work.

it really helped me. .Reply 8. Prince of Persia says: December 5. zuza says: November 26. 2009 at 9:13 pm Nice tut. hisham says: October 23.or at least the alternative if i dont have the vraysun to choose tax Reply 10. I didnt have time to try out a scene. 2009 at 3:16 pm Thanks for your tutorial. poy says: November 2. but what is the render time for this? Reply 11. 2009 at 4:34 pm thank you very much……………… Reply 9. 2009 at 2:09 pm sorry could it be use for 3ds max 9?i try it before but i have some problem with the tutor… one of my problem is on the part of daylight…you gave the tutor that we should choose vray sun(on the daylight assembly head…)but i dont have that choice on my 3ds max 9… so the result is so dark…i wonder if you would give me some answer of it.

2010 at 2:42 pm The scene won’t open. Reply . thank you very much. 2010 at 6:34 am dear laurence…i have been searching for a tutorial like this 4 a long time… you did a great thing………. Mike says: February 3. Is there something I’m missing? I’m on Max 9.Reply 12. but why use the skylight? Reply 14. Laxman Kumar says: January 4. shahir says: January 10. Looks promising though. Reply 15. vaibhav says: December 16. 2009 at 2:37 am thank you very much……………… Reply 13. 2010 at 4:52 am Nice tutorial.

2010 at 5:24 pm Very confusing tutorial. vicky gudise says: March 9. 2010 at 8:27 am out put nice . is it more easy to do it as u have done here . but i dont understand one thing i want to know why u didnt used vray sun sky and camera . 2010 at 4:58 am . 2010 at 4:48 pm Thanks a lot Laurens.16. Sinisa says: February 25. Reply 17. Luke says: February 12. naga says: February 7. 2010 at 8:04 pm hi nice exterior begining . hicham architecture says: February 15. the tuto is very useful Reply 18. Reply 19. Reply 20.

step by step information is really helpful Reply 24. Judy Scott says: April 26. dude. its on DEMO versions… no matter how i try i cant use the ‘phi cam’ of vray…..Anyway i found an good stuff here. hamid says: . thank u Reply 21. Felipe says: March 18. please suggest me that and reply me use day light its you when you do work in mantel ray Reply 23. 2010 at 7:24 am hi.sir nice tutorials i would like u to suggest me about how to use lights of vray in interior as well . 2010 at 1:19 pm why you dont use vray sun light . nitin kaushik says: March 25. can you help me please!? Reply 22. i get a trouble on my vray.. 2010 at 6:23 am I was Goggling around for some tutorials.

2010 at 3:52 pm Hi Tim41.rar Reply ○ Matt Brealey says: August 2. gamma can”t be use here!!!anyway. more tutorials anything … bye Reply 26. good evening ….May 9. pls u send me for let me mt e-mail hurry ….com/016_VrayRendering/TarloHouse_scene. 2010 at 9:59 am i think this is not a good way for take a real scense information. it is nice exterior view daylight ok… but it is some bright light but need put some dark how? i want to learn more daylight in the setting with vray now ..amazonaws.thanks Reply 25. thanks! Fix broken link to the source file. Matt Reply . I’ve just checked the link and it seems to be working ok here. Ahmer says: August 2. Could you try it one more time and let me know if you’re still having trouble! Thanks. please: http://cgtuts..s3. 2010 at 7:07 am hi…. tim41 says: August 2. 2010 at 2:33 pm Nice tutorial.

and the effect of dark lacks clear needs more definition Reply 28. Kike says: August 20. ohmno says: November 6. 2010 at 8:56 am Hi! I have trouble with opening that . do I really need 2009 for it? Thanks! Reply . zouhir says: October 25. 2010 at 9:40 pm I think that the color of the walls are similar. 2010 at 2:39 pm woooooooooooow very great tut thanx a lot thats really amazing Reply 29. I’m using version 9.27.max file.