Mental Ray Guide Book

Topics: Light, Incandescent light bulb, Fluorescent lamp Pages: 32 (10275 words) Published: June 23, 2013

Using 3ds Max and mental ray for Architectural Visualization

© 2007 Electric Gobo / Karcher,

This white paper looks at using mental ray® software for architectural visualization. Autodesk® 3ds Max® 9 software includes many major feature and workflow improvements to reduce complexity and make rendering with mental ray far more approachable for Architects and designers. This document summarizes the important aspects of photorealistic renderings that Architects, designers and visualization professionals may want to consider when creating presentation images, visualizations for design review, or physical analysis of lighting. It identifies the main areas involved in physically based renderings and provides guidance as well as tips-and-tricks on how to use them in 3ds Max. The main areas of focus include: Lighting and materials theory The mental ray renderer The mental ray daylight system Arch+Design material for mental ray, and more Included with this document are sample scene files and renders to help provide context.


Mental ray®: Using 3ds Max and mental ray for Architectural Visualization

Image rendered from the sample file, which can be found along with this document. © 2007 Electric Gobo / Karcher,

© 2007 Electric Gobo / Karcher,

Transforming Digital Painting into Digital Photography In the real world, energy is emitted by light sources, bounces around, and is absorbed by surfaces. The same principles apply in global illumination rendering, especially in architectural visualization. Architects, Designers and Visualization Professionals need be able to render images that approximate the real world as closely as possible. In combination with structure and surfaces, light can change the appearance of a room tremendously.


Mental ray®: Using 3ds Max and mental ray for Architectural Visualization

© 2007 Electric Gobo / Karcher,

Setting up the Workbench
Profile Presets 3ds Max software ships with a tool that enables you to preset environmental defaults that suit the workflow of photorealistic renderings done with mental ray. This is a great place to start. By choosing the ‘Design VIZ/mental ray’ profile, you get the following: mental ray renderer Exposure control New mental ray ‘Arch+Design’ material in the ‘Material Editor’ New ‘mr Sun’ and ‘mr Sky’ plug-ins in the daylight system Lights that cast shadows and are set to be ray-traced Units and Scale Physically based lighting computation implies that light attenuates using the inverse square falloff law, which simply means the intensity of light declines exponentially with the distance it travels. Therefore, it is crucial that the scale of your scene corresponds to real-world data—otherwise the results will get corrupted. A common mistake is to import an airport at the size of a shoebox or a room at the size of a stadium. In one case, the lighting computation will be too bright, and in the other case, it will be too dark. To verify your scale settings, check the ‘System Unit Scale’ settings in the ‘Customize | Units Setup | System Unit Setup dialog box’: You may also want to use the ‘Tools | Measure Distance’ tool to verify known dimensions in the scene, as well as set the ‘Unit Conversion’ function in the Import menu when, for example, importing a DWG™ file from AutoCAD® software.


Mental ray®: Using 3ds Max and mental ray for Architectural Visualization

Optimizing Geometry for Rendering
Good renderings require good geometry. Good geometry does not mean you must model everything. You can obtain many detailed effects with optimizations such as bump maps or cutout maps. It only means that the geometry must correspond roughly to what the renderer expects. It is important to start with a clean model. Fortunately, mental ray is more tolerant than radiosity in this respect; you do not have to create perfect models, but...
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