~ 3ds Max Schoolin’ – Round 1…Done!

Way back in March, I mentioned I’d be starting professional 3ds Max Schoolin’. I had researched different programs and settled on 3D Training Institute (3DTi) for its structured learning program and weekly live 4-hour training sessions with a 3ds Max expert.

When I enrolled, I decided to start with the beginner’s series, even though I’d been tinkering around with Max since 2011. I knew that there were a lot of holes in my training, and I thought I might benefit from the opportunity to start from scratch. I also wanted to gain the same background information as the other students before jumping into the intermediate pond. Taking the beginner’s series turned out to be a wise decision as I’ve learned quite a few best practices that’ll help me more swiftly and more professionally complete future projects…and my work has taken a leap forward, finally, after a long period of stagnation.

Now that the beginner’s series is over, I eagerly await the intermediate phase, which will focus more on projects that Max is called upon to do in the professional world, such as logos, vehicles, and character animation – things I know will come in handy for VFX and/or animations, in general. It’ll start in August, so I’ll take the rest of the summer to work on two animation projects, including the long-awaited Fireflower Airship (I’m literally chomping at the bit in anticipation of applying what I’ve learned to her!) and another paper cut-out cartoon (to fulfill a request from my sister).

I promised back in March that I’d share some of my work when I finished, so here’s what that first class was all about!

The Beginner’s Series Task

Create a Photo-realistic Architectural Rendering.
3DTi provided a bunch of stock images of interior spaces. The selection included living rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, and a few offices. Each student was asked to choose a stock image and then recreate it in 3ds Max. I chose a photo I felt I could complete in the time alloted:

Interior of a modern, sparsely decorated office

Phase 1: Modeling of the Exterior

This phase included extruding walls, creating windows and doors, and designing what turned out to be a semi-complicated ProBoolean wall structure in the middle of the room.
Extruded walls

Phase 2: Modeling the Furniture

Modeling all of the scene’s objects was a fun, but time-consuming process. We were asked to focus on three major pieces that stood out to us. For my image, those were the desk/chair, bookshelves, and green tub chairs. As luck would have it, having no class and a little time off from the day job over Memorial Day weekend gave me some extra time to add a couple of knickknacks to my scene, such as a desk toy (in lieu of a desk lamp) and a couple of decorations for the bookshelves.

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Phase 3: Texturing

During this phase, I added and mixed together materials to give all of the objects a realistic texture/look. We were asked to use Max’s built-in material library, so life was easier…I’ve created my own textures in the past and am very aware of how much time can go into this phase. It was also during this time that I added a “sun” to the scene and set up the camera. It was surprisingly difficult to decide on the perspective from which I’d take the picture.

The room started to look very realistic at this point.

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Phase 4: Lighting it All Up, Final Render, and Post Production

Though I added some basic lighting in the third phase, there were still a few dark spots that needed to be lit up. So, I made a final decision on where to place the camera, added some filler light, and rendered one last time. I started the final render a day and a half out from the final due date and let my computer chug away at it. It took 23 hours with my quad processors.

Then for post production, I created a quick ambient occlusion render, picked a cool environmental background image, and threw it all into Photoshop for a final clean-up.

Round 1…Done!

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