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Fast Ambient Occlusion in 3ds Max

By Tom Isaksen
| Your Rating:
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| 10 Comments
| Comments 10
Date Added: 16th November 2010
Software used:
3ds Max, Photoshop
185_tid_image_12.jpg

Introduction

Ambient occlusion adds great realism to your renders, but can be bit cumbersome to set up in Max, particular if you're using a mix of mental ray shaders and standard shaders. You could create an ambient occlusion effect by using lights, but it can be slow to render and tricky to get the right look. So if you want to skip all that, you can simply use a material override in your render options to get the job done - it's super fast and gives you the added bonus of having the ambient occlusion in a separate pass. As a separate pass you can adjust and manipulate to your heart's desire without affecting the rest of your render.

Please note that this tutorial uses 3ds Max 2011 and Photoshop CS5. Earlier versions should work too, but there might be slight differences in interface.

185_tid_image_01.jpg
Fig. 01

Step 1: Create a mental ray material


First you have to make sure you have assigned mental ray in your Render Setup menu (press F10) (Fig.02).

185_tid_image_02.jpg
Fig. 02



Then open your Material Editor (press M) and select an empty material slot. Give it a new name, like "AO material" and click the Standard button to select the mental ray shader in the Material/Map Browser (Fig.03).

185_tid_image_03.jpg
Fig. 03

You should now see the mental ray shader. Under Basic Shaders click the Surface parameter and select Ambient/Reflective Occlusion in the Material/Map Browser (Fig.04).

185_tid_image_04.jpg
Fig. 04



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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
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(ID: 305753, pid: 0) Anoop Eapen on Tue, 28 October 2014 2:55pm
Dear, pls give the 3ds max system requirement pls send me
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(ID: 253998, pid: 0) Aily on Fri, 21 February 2014 7:06am
You can use mr AO shader on standart Omni light, but in it "advanced" rollout enable "ambient only" flag. And now any materials (not only mr) will be with AO. And you don't need photoshop anymore for this ;)
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(ID: 235779, pid: 0) Mick on Sun, 24 November 2013 8:41pm
Great...thanks for this.
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(ID: 235417, pid: 0) David on Fri, 22 November 2013 12:10pm
This is great to follow up for a quick 'render to texture', nothing wrong with it at all, even though it isn't 'physically accurate' and all that rubbish.
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(ID: 222498, pid: 0) Martin on Thu, 03 October 2013 12:15pm
Thank you for making this tutorial. I know it was not supposed to be a 100% accurate AO map, but it is absolutely perfect for a very quick way to get very nice results for quick proofing renders. Cheers Martin
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(ID: 203675, pid: 0) Merey on Sat, 22 June 2013 9:35pm
nice but how do you handle a;pha maps like leaves with this technique?pls if you know tell me: merey021@yahoo.com tanx
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(ID: 178697, pid: 0) Grant Salisbury on Mon, 28 January 2013 2:13am
A great way to do this quickly is to use this script. Quick Passes http://www.scriptspot.com/3ds-max/scripts/quick-passes Great for quick mattes and lighting as well as ao passes.
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(ID: 31457, pid: 0) Tim on Sun, 09 January 2011 11:00pm
also, you can disable final gather for your ambient occlusion pass, makes it at least slightly faster.
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(ID: 27523, pid: 0) Tom Isaksen on Wed, 17 November 2010 10:05am
Actually Vladimir, the point is to make it easy and quick, particular if you NOT just using Arch & Design shaders.. But you are right, it's not a physically correct Ambient Occlusion effect, and I suppose I could have stressed that more in the tutorial. So thanks for pointing it out.
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(ID: 27505, pid: 0) Vladimir Jankijevic on Tue, 16 November 2010 9:22pm
I'm sorry but if you've read that post by Master Zap, you'll see that your technique isn't quiet right and is missing the point of ambient occlusion. here is the link to the post: http://mentalraytips.blogspot.com/2008/11/joy-of-little-ambience.html
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