The Wonderful VRay

VRay is a 3rd party plug-in for 3DS Max by a company called Chaosgroup. It’s function is a high quality rendering engine. The plugin also contains its own materials and lighting system.

The plugin is especially favoured by architects and designers alike due to its very near photorealistic qualities.

Once the plug-in is installed, a typically good setup would be as follows:

As always good organising is a very advantageous start.

To start, one would go to the ‘Rendering’ menu and select render setup. the render dialogue box opens. Scanline is 3DS Max’s default render. To enable the VRay renderer one just scrolls to the bottom, click on the rollout named ‘assign renderer’, click on the button on the right in the production section. The next dialogue box is the Choose Renderer. In here is all the rendering systems that are installed. 3DS Max comes with Mental Ray as standard, which is another excellent rendering engine.

If VRay is correctly installed, it shall be visible, this is what we need to select.

With the render setup box still open, the menu at the top would have changed to the VRay configuration. The menu consists of the ‘common’ tab, ‘VRay’ (which is what we shalllook at shortly) Indirect illumination, setting, render elements.

So, let’s take a look in the VRay tab. as you can see, it does look a little daunting, but what we can do to start would be to click on the VRay Image Sampler (if it isn’t open already), on the Image Sampler roll out menu there are 3 choices: Fixed, adaptive DMC, and adaptive submission. For now, we can just choose adaptive DMC.

Underneath is the Antialiasing filter, this helps with the smoothness or sharpness of the image. In the roll out you will see quite a few different types of filter. For now we can use the VRay sinc filter.

Back to the tabs at the top, the next tab is the Indirect illumination tab. Lets open it up and see. To activate it check the ‘on’ check box. Once checked all the parameters become functional. you will notice two rollout sections to do with light ‘bounces’. In the real world, when a light is lit, especially inside a room, when the light hits the walls, ceiling etc, the light bounces off and hits another surface. This is what Indirect Illumination does. In the secondary bounces section, there are four variations. Proton map, Irradience map, brute force, and the one that we shall use for now, Light Cache. For now the rendering settings are ok. Close the Render Setup dialogue box.

Now for the geometry. In the perspective viewport we need to create a flat plane, to place our objects on. Once the plane is created we can then create a large sphere, enough to cover the area of the plane, and maybe a little larger. at the moment the sphere is a solid object, what it needs is to be hollow. In the modify section (modifier list) scroll down and select the shell modifier. now the sphere is hollow. So now you can ‘go inside’ the sphere, now you should be able to see the plane that you created earlier.

Next we need to give it some colour. press ‘m’ on your keyboard to open the material editor. You will need to select an open material slot (it’s a number of grey balls) just one ball you need per material.

Now a slot is selected there is a button marked ‘standard’ once clicked, the material browser opens up. You need to select ‘VRAYMtl’ this is a standard for VRay. in the diffuse colour there is a small button next to it, open it up. What you need to select now is the ‘bitmap’ 3DS Max comes with some texture maps, what you need is a picture of a scene like a city in the distance.

Once you have the background texture that you like, click and drag the material slot (the ball) to the large sphere you created earlier. Next task is again to select another material slot, standard, VRayMtl, diffuse, bitmap, this time, maybe a wood texture, or maybe concrete, to assign the plane.

OK, what we need to do now is to place something on the plane and inside the sphere. Lets create a teapot, simply go to the create panel and choose teapot (it is one of 3DS Max’s default objects.

Once the teapot is created and inside the sphere, we need to open up the material editor again (‘m’) select another material slot (the ball) click on standard, and once more, VRayMtl. This time on the diffuse section, we just need to change the colour to black. Underneath the diffuse is the reflection section. change the colour from black to white. Whiter the colour, the more reflective the material it is and vice versa for the black. you can of course experiment.

Also change the ‘Subdivs’ to 24. assign this new material to the teapot (click and drag the ball).

Let’s see how our work has turned out. On the main menu click on rendering and select render, or simply press F9 on your keyboard. Once its rendered you should be able to see…. nothing but black. This is because we have no light! Go to the create panel click on the light lightbulb button. in the first rollout choose VRay. This opens the VRay light section. Click on the button VRayLight and place a light inside the sphere and above the teapot. in the settings of the VRay Light, try different numbers on the multiplier, to control the brightness of the light, now press F9 to render your work. You should now see the teapot has now got a chrome finish, and reflects what ever bitmaps you used for the plane and the large sphere.

I hope you found this useful. Thanks for reading.