I used Mental Ray's Arch & Design material system for this project, as they are very good at metal materials. The Arch and Design materials have some good preset settings to create all sorts of realistic materials and are a good starting point to create your custom setups. I also used a HDR image in the reflection map slot. This helped a lot in achieving a realistic metal look instead of relying only on the environment reflections. Here is an example of the Diffuse, Specular and Bump maps I used (Fig.04), and here is the material setup I used for these textures (Fig.05).
Because the materials are quite complex and took a long time to render, I set my render tests to a very low quality. This is good practice anyway and will speed up your workflow. The last thing you want to be doing is waiting around for test renders! I used the default Draft settings for the tests and kept the render size down. Once I was happy with my render and the lighting, and the texturing looked reasonable, I moved onto a larger render.
This render had slightly increased settings, such as bounce and Final Gather rays cast. Once this was completed and I was happy with the result I added some render elements to help me in the post-production stage of this project.
I rendered out two elements as well as my final render image. I then imported these elements into Photoshop to help me polish the image and get it finalized. You may find that you don't need to use some of the render elements you create, but it's always good practice to have them saved just in case you need them.
Here are the render elements I used:
- Beauty Render - This is the actual render from Max
- Shadows - This is a render of the shadows in your image. You can use this to adjust the shadows and add more depth to an image
- ZDepth - This is a render of the depth in your image; you will be given a black and white gradient render - white being closest to you and black furthest away
With all the elements set up, I moved on to my full-sized 100% quality render. You must be sure you're happy with all your tests before you do this as your PC will be rendering for quite some time. I think the render time for my full image was about 45 hours straight (it's a good job I have a laptop!). Here are the settings I used for the final render (Fig.06), and here is the final render from Max (Fig.07).