A Beginner’s Guide
The purpose of this webinar is to give you, a beginner VRay and Max user, an overview of the visualization process. The main topics touched here are Importing DWG files, Modeling, Lighting, assigning Materials and finally Rendering.
If you’re new to the field of architectural visualization, then this webinar is a must for you. Throughout the process, you’ll also learn some useful production tips and tricks.
After watching the webinar training, you’ll be ready to tackle your first visualization. And you’ll have the option of taking part in Advanced Workshops at VRaySchool. These workshops are designed to advance your skillset for handling critical production work successfully.
In the meantime, let’s discuss the main topics covered in the webinar training.
Importing DWG Files
While working on commercial visualization projects, you’ll encounter elevation drawings in the DWG format. This is one of the most common formats for encoding line drawings in the industry. In order to view these drawings, you can use the free DWG Viewer by Autodesk. For editing, you’ll need packages like AutoCAD or ARCHICAD.
The files usually have the front, left and top elevations in the same view with extra details. To make these files ready for importing into 3ds Max, we’ll have to clean them up a bit. Open them up with AutoCAD and remove everything but the basic building layout. Drawings for furniture, decorations, lamps, trees etc. are the type of shapes that aren’t required in Max.
It is important to keep the DWG files simple as too many shapes can overburden the Max viewport. After the clean-up, we can simply drag and drop the file over the viewport.
We’ll also need to setup the Max interface for a better workflow:
- Set the System Units in Customize Menu > Units Setup to millimeters for best performance. Set the Display Units to anyone you’ll be comfortable working with for entering measurements.
- Go to General Preferences in Customize again and switch on ‘Use Real-World Texture Coordinates‘. This option will let you describe texture size in real world measurement values.
Before we begin modeling our room, we need to manage the imported shapes. It’s a good idea to put them in a separate layer of their own right now. Select all the shapes and give them proper wire color from the Modify tab. Detach any extra pieces and create Groups for the different views.
Use the Front, Left and Top views to rotate and align their respective line drawings. Make sure the elevation plans are centered on the Origin in the viewport. If you start modeling and render too far away from the origin, you may notice lighting bugs and errors.
Now is the time to check the scale of the elevation plans to match real world units. You can do this by using the Tape Measure tool in the Helpers section. Check the ceiling height and scale the entire plan to match the actual height for the room.
The basic process for modeling structures is as follows:
- Switch to the TOP view for modeling the walls.
- Use the line tool with 2.5D vertex snapping enabled to create the shapes for the walls.
- It’s a simple tracing work where you need to start the line from one vertex and close it on the same one.
- Use the Extrude modifier to give volume to these walls.
- It’s advisable not to use the shapes from the DWG plans for extrusion directly, since these may cause lighting anomalies while rendering.
- As for the floor and ceiling, create a box geometry that covers the entire room. Place the floor so that the origin point rests on the top surface. Duplicate it as instance for the ceiling.
- Use the same line shape method for filling the space below and above the windows and doors.
- In this training, a readymade window geometry has been used for the final touch.
The next major step is setting up lighting. Consider lighting a modeling tool where you model the scene with lights. Lighting the scene is a creative step that can make or break your visualization. But it doesn’t mean that it’s hard to setup great lighting quickly.
We’ll also take this time to place our VRay Physical Camera in the room. For interiors, values of f/4, 1/100 shutter speed and 100 ISO work well. White balance should be set to neutral. A focal length of 28mm is the widest you should choose for interior spaces.
Place VRay Plane Lights outside the windows and doors covering the entire area. Set them to Skylight Portal mode and make them Invisible. This will make them carry light from the outdoors and project it inside the room.
For the main light, we’ll create the VRay Sun and Sky setup aimed through the windows. It is a simple drag and drop operation for the sun and sky will be automatically applied. Lower the Sun intensity if you wish and increase the Sun disk size to 4 for softer shadows.
Right now, the objects in the scene don’t have any materials or UV mapping applied to them. Add a simple box type UVW Map modifier for all the geometry. For the material creation process, we’ll cover that in an advanced course later. In this training, I’ve used a readymade material library and simply dragged the materials for wall, floor and ceiling onto the objects in the viewport.
If any material has not been applied to an object, then it will render with its wire color applied over it.
For rendering the scene, switch your view to the camera and open the Render Dialog. Set VRay as the main renderer. For quick drafts use the following settings:
- Turn off AA and Map image filtering.
- Set the sampling engine to Adaptive Subdivision with -1/2 for min/max steps.
- Use exponential mapping with gamma 2.2 in Color Mapping settings.
- For the GI calculation, set Irradiance Map (Very Low) as primary and Light Cache (500) as secondary.
- Set the amount of memory available to VRay to as much as you can spare.
If you’d like to learn more advanced techniques and take your visualizations to the next level, then join any one of the many workshops here at VRaySchool. Hope to see you there. In the meantime, share this post with your friends and post any queries in the comments below.