3ds Max Lighting Tutorial using Mental Ray

Mental Ray LightingThis tutorial continues from the last one which starts here. And the next tutorial starts here. They are all about car modeling in 3ds Max, and all the different aspects like Mental Ray lighting and camera setup that we will discuss below.

Lighting setups in 3ds Max using 3D models in a scene is really easy, as you will soon see. In this tutorial we will teach you how step by step. We will be using Mental Ray as the rendering engine. But you can also do this in the default scanline mode if you want to.

You start with assigning Mental Ray as your default renderer. Use plane objects as a simple environment. Then setup multiple mr Area Spot lights to highlight your model, and create shadow effects. A useful step is placing a 3ds Max camera in the scene to lock a view onto your model.

Finally, test a low resolution render in Mental Ray. Creating a 3ds Max scene with lights and cameras is very easy. That is a brief description on this tutorial. Watch the video and written tutorial below for more detailed instructions.

Watch the video:

3ds Max Lighting Tutorial

Mental Ray Setup

Start 3ds Max, and setup Mental Ray. On the menu, go to Rendering / Render Setup. Go to the Assign Renderer tab, and change to Mental Ray.

3ds Max Scene Setup

There are many different scene environments you can make, but I will choose the two plane objects below. (the top one is inverted). This is simple, but works well for the rendering of this model.

Create at least 2 or more lights (I’m using mr Area Spot lights).

The default lights will turn off automatically, and any part of the scene that is not getting light will be dark or black. Adjust the light direction / settings until things look right.

3ds Max Camera Setup

Now to put a camera in the scene. Make it a target camera.

Use the Select and Move button to adjust the camera. There are three points on the camera to move. Move the camera in the Perspectives viewport like the bottom left shows. You don’t need a camera to render, but it locks into its own viewport.

Right click Perspectives as you see below. In the submenu, go to Cameras / Camera001.

Now that you are in the Camera001 view, make adjustments until the object is angled and centered where you want it.

Mental Ray Test Render

Now test a render in Mental Ray. Put settings to draft to speed up the rendering. There are no materials applied yet, but the lighting and shadows look good so far.

Here is a render at medium image precision. Note that the model’s objects have no TurboSmooth on. This is to speed up the rendering greatly. We just want to see the highlights and shadows. You may have to adjust your light settings and re-render until it looks right.

Mental Ray Lighting in 3ds Max

In the next tutorial you will learn how to apply Mental Ray materials to the model and create a near photo-realistic rendered image.

Other 3ds Max tutorials in this series:

Car Modeling | Tire Modeling | Mental Ray Materials | Clay Render

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