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Mental Ray Sun

By Michael Bauer
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Date Added: 9th December 2009
Software used:
3ds Max, mental ray

Notice Mental Ray added a sky in our background for us. However, I would like to see this sky in our perspective view, let's do that now so you can really get a sense of what we have achieved so far.

Hit Alt +B to open the Viewport Background window. Then make the following changes and hit OK (Fig.08).

Fig. 08

After a second or so, Max will update the background of the perspective view to show our Mental Ray sky. Now let's see how cool this really is!

Go ahead and make some changes to our sun, like the time at which it is set. Select the sun light, and then make the following change (Fig.09).

Fig. 09

Notice that the background colour (with the sun now visible) and lighting all updated to reflect the current time of day! Come on, that's cool!

The last thing we will look at before moving on is how to make our render look a little better, because if we render now this is what it will look like (Fig.10).

Not bad, but it's way too dark!

Fig. 10

Hit F10 again to open the Render Scene dialog. Go to the Indirect Illumination tab and check the Enable Final Gather option. Then before you render, change the preset to Draft; we don't need to render at the high quality setting it is at the moment. By setting it to Draft our render will go a lot faster. Once we are happy with the way it looks we can increase the quality for the final rendering (Fig.11).

Fig. 11

Now render (Fig.12).

Fig. 12

Notice we have light bouncing and reflecting off our objects. Plus it is no longer as dark as it was. Final Gather is a great way to begin to achieve realistic renderings very easily.One more tweak: back in our render scene dialog, under the Final Gather rollout, up the Diffuse Bounces to 10 and then render again (Fig.13).

Fig. 13

What this does is increase how much the light bounces around our scene.  Our current example, being completely exterior at the moment, doesn't really have the capability of seeing a dramatic change with this setting, but if we had an interior scene or even something with some walls we would. See the following examples for a better visual explanation (Fig.14: 0 diffuse bounces, Fig.15: 10 diffuse bounces & Fig.16: 20 diffuse bounces).

Fig. 14

Fig. 15

Fig. 16

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