Master your post-production skills like a pro
The following step-by-step tutorial will guide users through the intricacies of setting up 3ds max to render high resolution images, and prepare the render elements for post-production in Photoshop.
The subsequent stage will take users through the process of using adjustment layers and the render elements in Photoshop, to control/enhance the display of objects in the scene.
Users will also be shown how to add people in post realistically, in order to create a sense of scale, and help tell the story of the design.
Finally, users will be taken through the unique process of making an image “Pop” whilst using key adjustment layers and Photoshop filters.
Note: I would like to take this opportunity to thank Renderpeople, for being very kind, for allowing me to use their hyper realistic 3d models of people in my scene:The level of detail of their models is truly exceptional.
Setting up for Final render
First, increase the render Output Size to 3500x4379, or higher. While most post production companies often render to 6000 pixels or above, 3500 pixels is good enough for the purpose of this tutorial.
Insure the Vray Region button is turned off in the Frame buffer.
While still in the In the Render Setup dialog, open the V-Ray tab and enable the Split render channels function.
To name the final high res output file, click on the Browse toggle. The Select V-Ray G-Buffers file name dialog should open up.
Name the file as interior Daylightvray and save the file type as Targa Image (tga). The Setup toggle should bring you the Targa Image Control dialog.
Choose the Image Attributes to be 32 Bits-Per-Pixel, with Pre-Multiplied Alpha enabled.
Alternatively, you can choose the Tiff file format, with a 16-bit Color and No compression.
Also, disable the probabilistic lights function, to prevent any noise in the render.
In the Indirect illumination tab, scroll down to the V-Ray:: Irradiance map rollout and change the Current preset to Medium. For this specific scene the Medium is worked OK.
However, some interiors may require going to pre-sets such as High, or Very High.
In the Basic parameters group, increase the Interp. Samples to about 70. This value is good enough to eliminate the current artifacts seen in the test render.
It’s worth noting that, higher values may reduce the appearance of shadows in the scene. Therefore these values should be increased with caution.
Next, scroll further down to the V-Ray:: Light cache rollout parameters, and increase the Subdivs Calculation parameters to about 1500.
There are scenes where one would be required to go as high as 2000/2500.
The rule of thumb is to start with lower values and gradually increase as necessary.
To finalize the render tweaks prior to sending out the final render, we are going to add few Render Elements.
Render elements are one of the most important parts of the render, as they will help fine-tune shader settings in post, without the need to resend the renders in 3ds max.
The Elements Active and Display Elements functions can be turned on, or off, as required.
The Add toggle allows users to add elements to the Name list below.
The Merge toggle allows users to pick one or a host of elements from a different Max scene.
The Delete toggle allows users to select and delete elements from the Name list below.
Start by opening the Render Elements tab and by clicking on the Add toggle to bring up its dialog
Choose the MultiMatteElement from its list, and OK to close the dialog.
MultiMatteElement is currently the best render element to select colors in post.
Each MultiMatteElement can take up to three different colors/channels. Each color is a true representation of R (red), G (green) and B (blue), which are very easy to pick/select in post.
The default numbers being displayed are ID numbers representing object Ids, or material IDs (when ticked on).
The numbers can be manually changed, if required.
For this exercise we’re only using obj IDs, because the Material Editor Id numbers are restricted to 15 only.
By default, the R and B colors are disabled. To enable All three colors, simply select the element from the Name list, and turn each color function on.
Since there are numerous objects in the scene with different object ID numbers, we are going to create multiple layers of MultiMatteElement .
Let’s start by renaming this element as, MultiMatteElement 1.
Create the next MultiMatteElement and rename it as, MultiMatteElement 2. It’s important to rename elements with similar name, to avoid being overridden.
Also, change these new RGB id numbers to 4, 5 and 6 and so forth.
Repeat the previous steps to create more MultiMatteElement, to represent all object ID numbers previously created.
Once all the MultiMatteElement are created, add the following elements:
More often than NOT some of the above listed elements may not work well with the base render, depending on the overall lighting.
However, the rule of thumb is to always add them, in case you may need them.
To work out the correct values for the VRayZDepth element, simply do a test render with the override material on, and with low render settings.
The best Zdepth results often yield a smooth transition from white to black.
One can achieve good results by simply tweaking with the zdepth max values. For this scene, the zdepth max value of 3.0m worked well.
However, feel free to experiment with different values, if desired.
I've used FoxRenderfarm services to carry out the high resolution renders.
We’ll begin by opening and loading all the pre-rendered elements into a stack.
Next, open (Ctrl+O) a photo reference image file. This photo will be used to further match it with the render more closely.
The Levels dialog should appear. Begin dragging its middle slider to the left; and the slider from the far left towards the right.
For this exercise, the following values worked well: Left slider= 4; Middle slider=1.85; Right slider=255.
In its dialog, accept the default filter (Warming Filter 85), and increase its density to 34% by dragging the slider to the right.
Again, it’s worth noting that, these values worked well. However, try different values, if desired.
OK, to close the dialog.
To begin omitting parts of the photo filter, select its adjacent mask thumbnail and enable the brush tool first (B)
In its dialog, reduce the hardness value to 0%. This will make the brush softer and easier to control while brushing away pixels.
Also, use the zoom tool (Z) followed by (B) to brush pixels more closely.
The next step is to put these two adjustment layers in one group (folder) to begin tiding up the psd file.
Rename the group folder as, Whole.
To rename the group folder, simply double left click on its text, type in and click Enter.
Move both adjustment layers inside this new group folder.
To do so, simply select both layers (hold down Ctrl+select one layer at time), and move/drag both layers into this new group folder.
To do so, scroll up to where the Interior DayLightVray .MultiMatteElement_1.0000.tga layer is.
Make the layer visible by simply clicking on its visibility icon.
It’s also worth mentioning that, it is common practise to ensure all MultiMatteElement layers are positioned above all layers of the document.
The selection of MultiMatteElementcolors are more accurate when they sit above all the remaining layers.
One of the most common methods of selecting any of the three channels (RGB), is to simple open the Channels' pallet, hold down the Ctrl key and left click on any of the three channels displayed (R, G or B) to enable its selection.
The next step is to invert the selection (Shift+Ctrl+I), followed by selecting the group folder and creating the layer mask, by clicking on its button.
Use the Layer Mask in conjunction with the brush tool (B) to mask in/brush in areas affected by the mask.
To enable the Layer Mask again, simply left click on it.
The next step is to begin tweaking each material individually. The first material to start with, is the hand rail.
Following that, create a layer mask as previously done.
Ensure this new folder is above the layer under the name, Interior DayLightVray .RGB_color.0000.tga.
Try different values if desired.
After having tried a number of different blending modes from the list, this one seemed to have worked best for this particular render element.
This unique technique allows users to control the effects of specific materials/objects without being forced to make compromises of the entire image.
Use some of the techniques covered earlier to enhance other materials/objects in the image.
As previously mentioned, not every rendered element will be useful for every single material/object in the image.
Once the selection is on, deselect the MultiMatte Elementlayer and scroll down.
To begin adding the glow effect to the ceiling lights, click on the Filter main tool bar, followed by selecting Blur and choosing the Gaussian Blur option from the dropdown list.
To edit the Gaussian Blur filter applied, simply expand the smart object layer, by clicking first on its side arrow, followed by clicking on its eye icon.
Create a new layer inside the group folder under the name Whole, and name it Vignetting. Ensure this layer is under the, ceiling lights glow layer.
In addition create its layer mask thumbnail and change its color to grey.
Follow some of the techniques covered earlier to achieve this.
Before we begin painting in the shadows, the black color needs to be masked out first.
To quickly mask out the black color, select the vignetting layer mask first, and use the Paint Bucket tool to mask out the entire layer.
Instead of using the Paint Bucket tool on a layer, simply create a Curve or a Level adjustment layer to achieve this.
To do, simply use some of the previous steps.
As mentioned earlier. Ensure all the multimattelayers/elements “sit”above all the other layers from the document.
Finally, save and close your final as a PSD.
To see the final results, simply open the final PSD file under the name of, Interior DaylightVray.psd
It’s quite common for PSD files to grow to sizes larger than 2GBs when implementing some of the techniques covered earlier.
When such occurs, Photoshop will generate an error and cancel the saving process. To override this artifact, simply save the PSD file as PSB instead.
This Large Document Format (*.PSB) type allows Photoshop to save files larger than 2GB; while retaining all the usual PSD document and layer properties.
If perchance you had Renderpeople (photo real 3d people) in your scene, this tutorial would have probably ended here; with your render looking more or less like the images below.
There are often instances when there isn't enough time or/and resources available to add people in post.
In such cases Renderpeople assets (photo real 3d people) can work just as well, if not better than photoshoped 2d people; especially when working with crowds or/and aerial shots.
Presently, Renderpeople have some of the most realistic 3d models in the industry.
For more information about them, please visit,: https://renderpeople.com/ref/5/
Adding 2d People in post
Having an extensive library of 2d people and background images/environments can help expedite this process immensely.
A very useful place to find 2d cut out people, silhouettes, trees, grass, background images/environments, etc is, Gobotree.com The website has a vast and diverse library.
For more information about them, please visit: Gobotree.com
In Photoshop, press Ctrl+N to create a new document and Ctrl+V to paste the printed screen.
The following step is to use the crop tool (C) to crop in the yellow areas(Camera frame area) of the printed screen.
To crop, simply click and drag the crop tool in the desired area, followed by double-clicking thereafter.
Next, hold down the Shift tool, grab the top left side of the layer and scale it up proportionally.
Also, use the layer opacity to match/line up the screen grab position against the, Interior DaylightVray_no people document.
One of the most challenging parts about adding people in post is the process of selecting the correct types, with the appropriate lighting, and at the right angle.
When adding shadows, one should always match its direction and blurriness with the original base render.
In the Levels dialog, move the leftmost slider of the Output Levels to 54. The brightness of the image should increase substantially.
This file was specifically chosen due to having a person directly lit by sun, and walking with his back facing the camera.
To finally make the whole image “pop”, we will add some key adjustment layers:
Open the image under the name of, Interior DaylightVray .tif
To create some contrast to the image, add the Levels adjustment layer. In its RGB Input Level ,move its middle slider to about 0.34.
In the Output Levels, move its leftmost slider to 5; in order to create an atmospheric effect.
To add a bit of color to the image, create another Levels adjustment and choose its Blue Channel.
The lower part of the curve represents the dark areas of the image; and the upper of the curve represent the brighter areas.
The first curve point in the lower part of the curve line should be (i.e. Output: 93/ Input: 94), and the point in the upper side of the curve should be (161/161).
Select the upper point curve and move it downwards slightly (142/187). Note the color changes taking place.
Next, choose the RGB channel, followed by creatingand moving two curve points: First point 92/43; second point to 192/109. Note the brightness of the image changing gradually.
It's also worth noting that, this tutorial is an excerpt (a water down version) of chapter 9, from my new book (twenty chapters).
Architectural Visualisation Tips & Tricks