Additionally I used an HDRI image in the environment slot. It doesn't make a lot of difference in terms of reflections, because it is an interior scene, but it does affect the atmosphere in the room a little.
Render settings are nothing special: for the global illumination I used the Irradiance map for the first bounce and QMC for second. The irradiance map is set to medium (40, 40) – it was enough and I didn't want the render time to take too long (already it was about 12 hours). The antialiasing is set to Adaptive subdivision and the Catmull Rom filter is used to make the image as sharp as possible.
Picture 13: Render settings
3: Post Production
Postproduction was done in Photoshop and includes some levels adjustments, because the original image that came out of the renderer was too dark in some areas and also adding volume light and the steam coming from the teacups.
The volume light was added on a new layer – basically I just filled the areas I wanted to have some volumetric light effect and applied the Gaussian blur filter to them, just to get rid of the sharp edges. Since I filled these areas with a solid 100% white color, I had to set the layer opacity to about 30 % and that way I got a nice transparent volume light. I could do it in 3dmax but decided not to, because it didn't work the way I wanted it and it would take a lot of adjustments and time to get it right and besides, it renders for ages! So I went for the post method which I think looks just fine and takes only a few minutes.
Picture 14: Postproduction
The steam was made in a similar way – on a new layer and just painting some masks until it looked good enough – I know it's not very realistic but it works in this case.
That's about it! Thanks for viewing this tutorial and I hope that you learned something new.
Picture 10: Vray displacement maps