Welcome to my first tutorial for 3ds max. Here we will try to achieve something that looks like the picture below, by relying mostly on 3ds max's procedural maps. No plugins are required.
Skill level: Intermediate;
Duration: 20 minutes;
I will assume that you know the basics of this software. If not, I suggest you get started with the tutorial cd, and return here in about a month, or when you feel you know your way around and understand things like displacement, meshsmooth and procedural mapping.
Let's start simple. Create a plane, of 550 width and length, with 50 length and width segments. We will be segmenting it to 200 later on, but we don't want any stuttering in the workflow until we set things up. Rename the plane to "Ground01".
Go to the Material Editor. In a new material, create a Smoke procedural map and give it a Size of 200, with 20 Iterations and an Exponent of 2,5. It won't matter if it's in a Diffuse map, or Specular Level map, or whatever. We just need this map configured for the next step