When the tank was completed, I started creating materials. I used V-Ray for rendering. I didn't have a clear image of what I wanted it to look like, so I just started experimenting. I created some suitable metal materials and started to place them on the tank until I was satisfied with result.
There are no unique textures for different parts; honestly, I didn't even edit a single texture in Photoshop! 3ds Max with V-Ray offers you a lot of procedural maps that give you great control over your textures. In many cases it frees you from using graphic editors to edit textures and saves a lot of time. Color correction can be achieved with 3ds Max's Color Correction map. In many cases I prefer it to using Photoshop because this way you don't affect your texture file and, what is really great is that you see the result of all your corrections immediately on your material. You don't have to save the file in Photoshop, switch programs, wait until it refreshes and so on, so you can make more precise color corrections.
It also saves a lot of time when you use the slate material editor. You can see on the following picture – all the information is taken from single map, and if you want to change it you don't have to replace it in every slot, like you would do in the compact material editor. You can also use the same maps for different materials, which saves time when it comes to editing it too (Fig.03).
After that I created the surrounding factory (or maybe it is a warehouse, or garage, or just some abstract metal environment; I actually didn't really care about realism and purposefulness in this work!) There were nothing special about modeling or texturing it; it was the same as with tank. It has less detail, because the main part of the scene is the tank and I didn't want the environment to take the emphasis away from it.
Then I created lighting. I like it to be bright and colorful, so all the light emitters have colored light. I created two large plane emitters – a blue one above, and an orange one below to make general lighting, and then created smaller local sphere emitters to light up different parts of the scene.
The next step was post-production. Do not underestimate the importance of this stage; raw renders look unfinished in most cases (Fig.04).
To make post-production more convenient, I separately rendered three layers: the background, the tank with the platform and the foreground pipes. In this case I didn't even have to make a Z-depth pass (I had it only for the tank); aerial perspective was achieved just through the color correction of different layer. After that I slightly tweaked the lighting with Color Dodge layers, fixed over-exposed parts, and added steam clouds and volume light (Fig.05).
That is, basically, it. I hope you found something interesting and useful in this article. And I'd like to thank 3DTotal for giving me such a great opportunity. Practice as often as you can, carefully examine the works of artists you like, never give up and eventually you will become a great artist. Good luck (Fig.06)!