Post - Production
With the final render done and all the render elements saved, it was time to open up Photoshop!
I consider the render out of Max to be just the start of the final stage. It would be very difficult and time-consuming to get a good result directly from the Max renderer, so I used Photoshop to do color correction, adjust brightness and contrast, add atmospheric effects, and depth of field. All these corrections can be done in Max, but like I said, it would take a lot of time and test renders to get a decent result and is just not worth it – Photoshop will give you much more freedom and control over your image.
I started by adjusting the levels to bring out the dark values. I then adjusted the Color Balance to achieve the desired effect, which in this case was photo realism. I wanted a warmer feel compared to the original render so I added more red; this helped to bring out the rust. Using the shadows element render I set the layer to Multiply and adjusted the Opacity to get a good result.
I then added depth of field using the ZDepth element; this stage was quite important to get right because it added so much to the photo realism look that I wanted to achieve. Photoshop CS3 has a very good Lens Blur Filter effect which adds nice little details that you get from photography, such as noise and hexagonal shapes created by blurred specular highlights. So, using the ZDepth image, I copied and pasted it into the Alpha channel of the Photoshop layer and applied a Lens Blur Filter. Here are the settings I used for the filter (Fig.08). As you can see, it's quite a powerful filter!
Now for the lens flare! I know it's often considered a cheap and tacky addition to any image, but if used correctly – and in moderation – it can add a lot to your image! In a new layer I added a 105mm Prime Lens Flare in the top right corner. I think it's the circular discs that get positioned across the screen that cheapen the image, so I erased those to about 20%. The main focus was to get a strong glare from the window.
I added a small amount of noise to the whole image to give it that "photographed” feel. I then gave it one last adjustment pass of Levels, Curves and color correction to achieve my final image (Fig.09).
So that's it! I hope my descriptions have been easy to follow and have given you a helpful insight into how I created this image. It was a pleasure making this image and making of. Any questions please get in touch. Thank you!