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Architectural Visualization: Rendering in mental ray

By Maxim Ganzha
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| Comments 61
Date Added: 23rd November 2010
Software used:
3ds Max, mental ray


Hello everybody, my name is Maxim Ganzha. After many requests from my friends I decided to write a little article about how I created my interiors. We will look thought the process of rendering one of my last works with super lighting and gorgeous composition that I made in mental ray: "Living Room"

Did you ever wonder why some interior works in galleries are more interesting than others? The main secret is in beautiful lighting settings and stylish composition. That's exactly what we will talk about in this article. I'm not going to describe the process of modeling because in that case the article would become too long and boring.

Let's start with the rendering!

Light Settings and Adjustments

To start let's open our scene and choose the mental ray render from the list of our available renders.

Open the scene (Fig.01).

Fig. 01

Go to the render settings by clicking F10. In the Assign Renderer section push the Choose Renderer button and choose mental ray (Fig.02).

Fig. 02

After choosing the renderer, mental ray's shaders and materials will become available in the Material/Map Browser. Chose the material called "Arch & Design" and adjust the Diffuse color like this: the color of Diffuse RGB is about 0,8 0,8 0,8 and the other adjustments you can see in Fig.03. Also I would like to note that you shouldn't forget to switch on Ambient Occlusion in your materials.  With this adjustment the shades will look more realistic and in the corners of your scene the darkness which is peculiar to realistic lightning will appear. I put the value of Max Distance equal to approximately 3 meters (this is the distance between the floor and ceiling)(Fig.03).

Fig. 03

Open the render setup. In Translator Options switch enable Material Override and put our gray material in the material slot. With this option we will fill in all our objects in scene with one material. This will help you and your system to adjust the lighting more easily. The render will be fast. The materials for all the objects in our scene will be looked at in more detail later (Fig.04).

Fig. 04

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
(ID: 321559, pid: 0) Hugo on Thu, 22 January 2015 3:47pm
Good afternoon , very good tutorial , but have a question , then to process the image have to disable the Override Material ? Thank U.
(ID: 313976, pid: 0) Srilal on Tue, 16 December 2014 5:07am
good tutorial but where is the sence file? i can't find it. pleace help
(ID: 305710, pid: 0) Amyisb10 on Tue, 28 October 2014 10:30am
I have never worked with the platforms 3ds Max and Mental Ray which are actually used for the purpose of Architectural Visualization. I am very much impressed with the way it works to capture the details of the architecture. The screen shots which explain the processes were informative.
(ID: 303889, pid: 0) Alfiethomas on Thu, 16 October 2014 1:04pm
Hey nice post. Find here some of the most creative and innovative ideas for 3d house plans.
(ID: 296200, pid: 0) Nazim Malik on Tue, 09 September 2014 12:10pm
my arch and design material is reflecting every thing is reflecting when i testing render .i have tried everything to solve it but no success please help me?????
(ID: 294322, pid: 0) Dilip Balla on Mon, 01 September 2014 10:25am
Hello Maxim Ganzha. Firstly Thank you for ur valuable support & guide. M just started with the Mental ray as earlier from the past 8 yrs of my experience i used to use V-Ray that too \"IES\" lighting which is been used in V-Ray. id like to ask you for the Tutorials of Mental Ray that would be too helpful for me so i do request you to send me the Tutorials for the same if u can please on my personal id that is :-
(ID: 292904, pid: 0) Etim Udoekpo on Sat, 23 August 2014 9:33pm
Great tutorial and thanks for sharing and solving a long time rendering problem in my interior designs. God bless you
(ID: 290669, pid: 0) Al Houghton on Wed, 06 August 2014 11:08am
Hi, I`m following this great tutorial BUT my background scene is totally white as though the daylight system has completely washed it out. Where am I going wrong can anyone help ? Thanks
(ID: 287584, pid: 0) Charline on Fri, 18 July 2014 6:01pm
This is the best tutorial ever. Please do notify me, when you post more blogs regarding this topic. You are the best
(ID: 285082, pid: 0) Ikhwan on Mon, 07 July 2014 10:37pm
Great tutorial! Thanks!
(ID: 280545, pid: 0) Aris on Wed, 11 June 2014 7:18pm
Great tutorial. Thank you so much for posting this. I've never thought that it's possible to get this kind of amazing result in mental ray.
(ID: 280282, pid: 0) Raihan Habib on Tue, 10 June 2014 6:47pm
I want learn 3d max but i dont have any knowledge about. How can start to be 3d max developer? Suggest me please.
(ID: 268349, pid: 0) Hilmilson on Wed, 16 April 2014 2:47am
i have problems with the AO material at 1st step as shown. when i render, all the material that i apply turn to grey. second is the background, cant see the background when render it turn to blue white...pls email me the solution..btw this is the best tutorial ive ever seen..thank You Maxim Ganzha for sharing this,i improve alot. :) instagram milson_hil
(ID: 263873, pid: 0) Pushkin Singh on Wed, 26 March 2014 7:10pm
my render is completely of sky colour... no other material in the scene is getting render, all the objects in the scene are light
(ID: 255144, pid: 0) Pouya on Wed, 26 February 2014 5:06pm
tnx maxim! great tutorial!!!
(ID: 240147, pid: 0) Shamini on Thu, 19 December 2013 8:13am
Hi, This is an awesome tutorial. Can u email the dataset for this scene to TQ
(ID: 238854, pid: 0) Eduardo on Thu, 12 December 2013 5:26pm
Really amazing Tutorial. Thanks for sharing.
(ID: 211630, pid: 0) Nile Britanico on Wed, 14 August 2013 9:00am
Nice dude. thanks for the idea
(ID: 201950, pid: 0) Mar Bergaretxe on Mon, 10 June 2013 6:27pm
es: buenisimo tutorial!!! he aprendido mucho de iluminacion y materiales!! gracias de verdad!! en: nice tutorial! I learned a lot of lighting and materials! really thanks!
(ID: 201144, pid: 0) Abir Shakil on Tue, 04 June 2013 5:15pm
Thanks brother. its a very helpful tutorials for me. thank u again
(ID: 180601, pid: 0) M.azarkaman on Fri, 08 February 2013 3:46pm
that was a great tutorial. thanks :))
(ID: 179877, pid: 0) Kris V on Sun, 03 February 2013 7:56pm
This is amazing. I'm an architecture student making an effort to improve the quality of my visualizations, and this is by far the best tutorial I have seen so far. Well done, sir! ;)
(ID: 178711, pid: 0) Nick on Mon, 28 January 2013 4:51am
cool tutorial, but can you email me the max file
(ID: 176113, pid: 0) Everson Navarro on Sat, 12 January 2013 3:32pm
Hello.. nice tuts you have for mental ray. Can you send me this tuts. Thanks a lot.. my email is
(ID: 174064, pid: 0) Felipe on Sun, 30 December 2012 5:33am
Hello again, i saw that if i change to physical units:(cd/m2) in the background material setings, we don't need to change it in the render proprieties... only put on the material, and if you change from 1500,0 to 2000,0 the background will become more lighter as the glow... bye!
(ID: 174063, pid: 0) Felipe on Sun, 30 December 2012 5:21am
This tutorial is incredible,thank you so much Maxim... People, This will solve the black background... bye
(ID: 171954, pid: 0) MichelBlade on Sun, 16 December 2012 10:32am
Nice tutorial but I have one serious problem with it. There is said what to do to achive something, but it is not explained how it works. "The settings you can see in Fig.62 - 63." - OK I can set it in the same way, but I still don't understand what they are for.
(ID: 159610, pid: 0) GroundZero on Fri, 02 November 2012 12:13pm
A scene to use would be highly appreciated
(ID: 156430, pid: 0) Diom on Wed, 17 October 2012 8:37am
sir where is the scene i cannot find out,pls help
(ID: 139255, pid: 0) Facundo on Tue, 07 August 2012 11:27pm
I could never make it look the background image. HELP!
(ID: 98357, pid: 0) Jay Singh Shekhawat on Tue, 27 March 2012 6:37pm
Lot thank by my side to Maxim Ganzha, i was wondering for perfect day lightin in mental ray , and now i got , this is nice tutorial. i would request to dear Maxim Ganzha that plz provide one more tutorial about interior lighting (night scene lamps and celling light should be include ) in mental ray. i 'hv field up my mail address so whenere you make plz send it on my mail address.if you can't jst informe me. thanks again
(ID: 86685, pid: 0) Marko on Wed, 15 February 2012 9:18am
I think I figured out what was the problem with black background. You have to remove material override which you set in one of the first steps. This option gives all objects the same gray material. But you don't want that on your background. So you have to manually add gray material to all objects but background.
(ID: 86659, pid: 0) Marko on Tue, 14 February 2012 10:25pm
I'm getting the same black background instead of the background image. Can someone tell me what am I doing wrong?
(ID: 76371, pid: 0) Joan on Fri, 06 January 2012 10:17pm
Thanks for the tutorial. But I'm having similar problem like David Johnson and Jelena with the background image: it apears blur and black in the render but ok in the scene. But thanks again!
(ID: 76022, pid: 0) Anestis on Thu, 05 January 2012 7:08pm
thank you for posting!great tutorial,i am using 3ds 2012 and i have a problem with my scene,i cannot get rid of the splotches caused by GI, any ideas?
(ID: 52003, pid: 0) Kamran on Fri, 23 September 2011 5:55am
Dear Sir, I saw your tutorial and appreciated. Actually there is one thing which is missing and i think its necessary. That is you did not start it from the beginning. Respected Sir, I want to learn 3Ds Max and specially architectural designing. Please tell me how can I. Please tell me how can i learn from you? I want to learn it from you. You are master and amazing. Please tell me how can you make the above model in 3Ds max. I make the soffa and tables but not like this. I am the student and you are the teacher. GOD will only pay you. Regards, KK
(ID: 50440, pid: 0) Michaelangelo on Sun, 18 September 2011 3:17am
Great!!!, just great THE BEST....)))
(ID: 49755, pid: 0) Jad on Tue, 13 September 2011 2:00pm
lit me answer about the background image go to that add or go to the tutorials under mental ray at what maxim recomended sit mr materials
(ID: 49752, pid: 0) Jad on Tue, 13 September 2011 1:05pm
thanks god for this world becouse it has some one like u maxim .
(ID: 49258, pid: 0) Hendry on Mon, 05 September 2011 11:41am
Awesome ! Amazing ! i'm begineer in 3D max & hv to learn more from the Master. Thanks for sharing the knowledge. Thanks you Master !
(ID: 47550, pid: 0) Ferdinand on Sun, 07 August 2011 6:14pm
Very detailed tutorial and thanks for sharing it, can you share this one in a pdf file? so that I can follow it step by step. I am a neophyte in rendering and I want to improve it and I find this tutorial will help me a lot. Thank you!
(ID: 47277, pid: 0) Jelena on Tue, 02 August 2011 12:33pm
Thank you Maxim for the great tutorial. It's very simple and useful in the same time. I especially like yellow light from a lamp. Very nice detail. But I'm having similar problem like David Johnson in the previous comment. My background image on the plane is looking good in a scene but in rendering it's shows up totally blue and blur. I tried several things but the problems remains. If you know what could be solution please help.
(ID: 47077, pid: 0) David Johnson on Thu, 28 July 2011 9:02pm
Hello, I love the tutorial! I am having issues getting the background image on the plane to show up! It will only render black :( Can someone please help me? Email me if you think you know what is wrong,
(ID: 46930, pid: 0) Ayodeji Balogun on Tue, 26 July 2011 7:33am
For the very first time online, i got a reliable, sweet rendering and its tutorial. God bless you Man. However, I've always had this grainy looking effect on my rendering that makes it look so noisy even after following the course of your tutorial, what can i do to correct that please? Kindly proffer an answer. I appreciate your anticipated and earnest reply...... Thanks for sharing.
(ID: 45895, pid: 0) Jonathan on Thu, 07 July 2011 7:35pm
Is there any model that we can use to follow along with?
(ID: 40601, pid: 0) Prashant Sisodia on Tue, 19 April 2011 1:40pm
this is the best architectural_visualization toturial i have ever seen. thanks for this .
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(ID: 38072, pid: 845864) Rocneasta-3DT (Forums) on Thu, 17 March 2011 4:13pm
so much positive feedback, time to start reading
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(ID: 326403, pid: 845864) Rocneasta-3DT (Forums) on Thu, 17 March 2011 4:13pm
so much positive feedback, time to start reading
(ID: 38038, pid: 0) Wendy on Thu, 17 March 2011 2:34am
The best mental ray tutorial, cover lots of technique. Is max model available for trying?
(ID: 37916, pid: 0) Sarwan on Tue, 15 March 2011 5:19am
great tutorial........
(ID: 37054, pid: 0) Sefik on Wed, 02 March 2011 3:27pm
Great example for max users...thank you very much
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(ID: 34866, pid: 836747) Maksimka1980 (Forums) on Fri, 04 February 2011 7:40pm
Many thanks to friends for comments. :)
(ID: 33868, pid: 0) Septo on Fri, 21 January 2011 6:36am
Great Tutorial, i got it from a my friend in germany.
(ID: 33826, pid: 0) Kabes on Thu, 20 January 2011 9:09am
Yups a .max file would be very helpful, Max. Thanks for the wonderful tutorial! :D
(ID: 33388, pid: 0) Nuno on Fri, 14 January 2011 6:06pm
can u make the scene available in max format so we can follow ur steps? thanks
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(ID: 30949, pid: 830296) Maksimka1980 (Forums) on Sat, 01 January 2011 3:31pm
This is for you friends, thank you very much !!!!! =)
(ID: 29902, pid: 0) Sushant on Thu, 16 December 2010 7:34pm
Thank you so much...!!!! You are the man....
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(ID: 29872, pid: 828194) Ricky Doherty (Forums) on Thu, 16 December 2010 7:53am
In this epic tutorial, Maxim Ganzha discusses architectural visualization and rendering in mental ray in in-depth detail.
(ID: 29864, pid: 0) Pavlo on Thu, 16 December 2010 5:02am
wow this is a very detailed tutorial, and very useful. :D
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(ID: 29862, pid: 828163) Nukie (Forums) on Thu, 16 December 2010 1:14am
"Open up our scene"So, should there be a provided scene or do we use our own? :)
(ID: 29825, pid: 0) Vk3d on Wed, 15 December 2010 12:46pm
Best tutorial about rendering in Mental ray, IMHO. Thank you, Maxim Ganzha!
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