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An Archiviz Workflow Overview in 3ds Max, Sketchup, and Digital Fusion

In this Architectural Visualization workflow overview you will learn how to use Google Sketchup for photo matching, create a Vray-proxy in 3ds Max, use Max script to speed up your workflow, reduce render times when creating a large scene, set render layers in 3ds Max, and do some post production in Digital Fusion.

Start Google Sketchup 7.1 (sketchup 6.0 at least), go to (File > Import...).  Use "use as new matched photo" as the import option.  This will help you quickly step into "PhotoMatch", Sketchup's new function.

"Spacing" = 1000 mm, meaning 1 meter per grid unit when the "Grid" option is set to "On".

The Red and Green axis stands for the two vanishing points of the original photo, and the Yellow line should be matched by the photo's horizon line. These points should be matched the photo's V.P as correctly as possible.

Go to (Draw > Rectangle) to create a rectangle based on the original photo's perspective, and then use the "Push" tool to generate a cube.

Right click the top line, and chose "Divide", then use the "Line" tool to create lines.  Divide the cube by 17x19x5 segments.

Use the same method to create a new cube on top of the original one.  All of the segments should be created based on the original photo.

Use the "Circle", "Push", and "Offset" tools to create a column.  Copy it by pressing "N" (N=1,2,3...).

This is the final result of the Sketchup modeling portion.

Go to (File > Export > 3D model).

Chose "3ds" format as the file type, and export it into 3ds max 2009.  This is the end of the Sketchup part.

Start 3ds Max 2009, make sure your 3ds Max units are set to "Millimeters".

Go to (File > Import...) to import the '3ds' file.

Hit 'C' to switch to the Camera view, and press 'ALT+B', to open the Viewport Background window.

Hit 'F10' to open the Render Setup, and set the "Image Aspect" to 0.6667.  Change the render engine to Vray 1.5 sp2.

Select the Camera, call it "Fine", and set the FOV to 45 degrees.

Select all of the columns, add a "Smooth" modifier.

Modeling the window frame.

Final result of all of the frames. Use the Instance Copy option to copy the frames based on the imported 3ds file. Try to match the original photo as correctly as possible.

Create the window glass by using the Shell modifier on a plane.

Move the glass into the right place on the bottom of the frame.

Create the Door Gate by using Extrude + Shell + Edit Poly modifiers.

Use the Line + Extrude + Shell Tools to create the top window frames.

Add an "EditPoly" modifier, and use the "Chamfer Settings" tool to fillet the edges.

Create the glass geometry by using the Shell modifier.  Notice the glass's position.

Create a plane, and apply the plan image to it as a material.  You can use this reference plan to create the interior wall.

Here is the result of the interior wall and ceiling base.

Draw a line on the floor, and go to (Create > AEC Extended > Railing > Pick Railing Path).

Create 3 instances of the glass railing (click to see the large version of the image.)

Create the 3rd Floor interior walls. There is no reference image so just rely on the plan and the original photo.

Using the CV Curve + Loft tools, generate the small ball in the interior.

Use the Line tool to create the support wires.

Use the same techniques for the large ball.

Use the Line + Extrude tools to generate the ceiling panels. Don't forget to fillet the edges.

Model in the lights on the ceiling panels and move them to the right position.

This is the final result of the modeling part. We will be moving on to the material steps in a moment, but before starting I would like to introduce this amazing script called "VraymtlPresets".  You can visit to download it and also get more information. The latest version is 0.6.

Put the "vraymtlPresets_v06.mcr" to your Max script directory.  The Macroscripts (.mcr) should be placed in "maxroot\UI\Macroscripts" folder.  Go to "Maxscript > Run Script".

Open your "VraymtlPresets_v06.mcr".

Go to "Customize > Customize User Interface".

Select the S_Vray Tools Category.

Click "New" to create a new toolbar, name it whatever you want it to be, and hit "OK".

Drag the new toolbar to your top max toolbar, and drag the "VRayMTL Quick Presets" action to this new toolbar (under the Action window in your Customize User Interface) and click it. You should now have the script installed.

Select all of the window frames, open the "VrayMtl Presets_0.6" toolbar, and go to "Gemstones > Onyx Black > Assign".  Open the material editor, set the diffuse color to (35,35,35), and leave everything else as default. Apply the material to all of the frames. Click to see the larger image.

Open the material editor, change the material type to "VrayMt"l. Set the "Diffuse" color to (213,203,202),
the "Highlight Gloss" to 0.45, the "Refl. Gloss" to 0.92, the "Subdivs" to 20, and make sure the "Use Interpolation" is on (it will help you reduce the render time). Apply this material to all of the columns. (Click for the larger image.)

Select the Glass of the bottom area, open the script, go to "Glass > Architectual > Assign".  Make sure the Reflection "Use Interpolation" option is off. Click for the large image.

Open the script, go to "Metal > Stainless Steel > Assign".  Change the BRDF type to "Blinn", the "Anisotropy" to 0.7, and the "Rotation" to 90 degrees.  Apply this material to all of the chrome objects, like door frames, door handles etc..

Select a new material ball, change the material type to "VrayBlendMt"l, and select White Plastic as the base material and Black Plastic as the Coat material.  Make sure the "Use Interpolation" option is on.  For the "Blend Amount" option, use a black/white jpg as a mask, where the white part will be the Base material, and the black part will be the Coat material.

Select all of the window frames and apply the "VrayblendMtl" material to them.

Select a new material ball, change the material type to "VrayMtl", and set the diffuse color to (219,203,180). Set the "Reflection Color" to (168,168,168), and make sure the "Use Interpolation" option is on.  Select all of the interior walls, and apply it. Click to see the larger image.

This is the final result of the material part.

Now to plant some trees.  Here I use Evermotion's product.  You can buy and download it from It has a lot of polygons on this tree, but it looks amazing to me, so I used it to detail this scene.  40EUR per models may be a little pricey for your taste, but anyway you can find any tree models to finish the scene.

Select all objects that make up the tree, and go to (UtilitiesPanel > Collapse > Collapse Selected) to convert them into a single object.

Right click > Vray Mesh Export.

Select a Folder to store  the ".vrmesh" file, and make sure the "Automatically Create Proxies" option is on.

Set the Display mode to "Preview From File.  3ds Max just created a proxy automatically.

Use the Instance Copy and Scale tools to duplicate the proxy in front of the building.

This is the final result of adding trees.

Create a plane VrayLight, and set the color to (249,132,74). Set the "Invisible" option to "off", change the "Multiplier" to 70, and Instance Copy this VrayLight to fit all of the ceiling lights. Click to see the larger image.

Go to (Render panel > Vray panel > Global switches), and you will see that it is at draft render settings.

Open the Indiect Illumination panel and hit render (467x700).  My render time is around 57 seconds (ASUS C90P Notebook,cpu:Q9550, ram:4G, GC:9600MGT).

Go to (Create panel > Lights > Free Ligh) to create a photometric light using an IES file.  Move the photometric light under the Vraylight, and Instance duplicate.  Here I have 114 IES lights in this scene.

Here is the result of adding photometric lights.  The render time is 1 min at 467 x 700.

Create another VrayLight, set the color to (255,163,82), and make sure the "Invisible" option is off.  This means the light can be seen by the renderer.

Instance duplicate the light to the interior corridor (match the photo's position as correctly as you can). Use the Scale tool to get light to fit the interior walls.

Go to (Render Setup > Vray:Envirorment), and set the GI multiplier to 1.0.  Use the Fine.jpg to generate GI. Use a jpg to generate the reflection and refraction, with the multiplier set to 2.0 to give brighter reflections. Notice that the mapping is set to Spherical.

Here is a test render done at sStep 64.  The render time is up to 5 min because of the VrayLight subdivs are set to 14 with 144 VrayLights.  You can reduce the subdiv value to speed up the render time.  From this test render, you can see that the interior was a little bit dark.

Create a big Vray Plane light.  Set the color to (255,188,82), with the "Invisible" option on, but the "Affect Spec and Reflections" off.

These are the final render settings in the render setup panel (click for the large version!)

And the final render layers settings and render results (again, click to see the large version!)

Now for the final compositing step we will use the software Digital Fusion 5.3.

Drag the final exr file into fusion, and rename it as "BeautyPass".  Go to the "Import" panel, change the depth to "Float32", and set "Post-Multiply by alpha" to "On".  When you save the .exr file in 3ds Max, Vray also puts every pass to a single file, so you can change every render pass easily. Here are two examples (Diffuse and reflection pass).  Click the "Format" panel, and change the RGB channels the way you want it to be.  When you are done with a pass, use Ctrl+C to copy, and Ctrl+V to paste another node.  Then go to the "Format" panel to change the channels. You should have a Diffuse, Raw_GI, Raw_LT, Reflection, Refraction, Specular, Sell_Ill, and Beauty pass. Click to see the large version of this image!

Here is the final result (click to see the large version!) Thanks for watching.  If you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know. Hope you liked this tutorial. EnjoY!!



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rubenz 2018-07-03



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