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3ds Max Tutorials - Matte-Shadow Material

matte shadow tutorial

Matte/Shadow Material

In this tutorial we are going to use a Matte/Shadow material and the mental ray renderer to create a scene made from a 2d image background, we will place a 3d object into a 2d scene and apply a shadow. Matte/Shadow material is used to create special effects. For this tutorial we will use an image from 3Ds max background maps.
Skill level: Beginner

Step 1

Setting Up -We are using 3ds Max 2010 in this tutorial, but you can use any earlier programs. Open 3ds Max, start with a new page and save it in your scenes folder in 3ds Max as Matte_ Shadow

Step 2

First let's set up the renderer to Mental Ray Renderer.

Click on rendering on the main toolbarrendering or hotkey shortcut f10 on the keyboard.

3ds max will open by default in Common, so scroll down to Assign Renderer.

Scanline Renderer is assign by default, we will click on the small square and the Choose Renderer dialog will appear, select Mental Ray Renderer then OK.

Step 3

Open the material editor first and leave it open while we prepare the environment map.

Click on Material Editor on the main toolbarmaterial_editor or hotkey shortcut M on the keyboard.

Step 4

Go to the main toolbar and select Rendering renderingthen Environment from the drop down menu. Or use the hotkey shortcut 8 on the keyboard and the Environment dialog will appear.

Step 5

We are going to add an image to the background environment.

Click on the None button under the Environment Map and the Material Map Browser appears.

Select Bitmap then OK.

Step 6

The Select Bitmap Image File dialog appears, navigate to the file where you have your image saved, or use an image from 3ds Max Background maps. To do this navigate to Local Disc C - Program Files- Autodesk - 3ds max2010 - Maps - Background.

 - microwavebackground.jgp

Step 7

Now the image is inserted into the Environment dialog, the next step is to drag it over to the Material Editor.

You should still have the Material Editor open if not open it now. Click and hold Environment Map, drag and release the map into the first material slot in the material editor.

When you release the map the Instance/Copy dialog appears - select Instance.

Notice how the sphere has changed it's shape.



Step 8

Let's insert the image into the perspective viewport background now.

Go to Views views on the main toolbar, then select Viewport Background or Hotkey shortcut Alt b on the keyboard.

Viewport Background dialog set to:

- Use Environment Map

- Display Background

- Perspective viewport

- OK

Now you can see the full mircowave image in the perspective background.

Step 9

Go to geometry geometry, and under Standard Primitives select plane.

Drag a plane across the grid in the perspective viewport.

Don't worry about the exact length or width we will modify it later.

Step 10

Go to geometry geometryand select Teapot.

Drop the teapot on the plane in the perspective viewport.

 -  Radius = 35
 -  Segments = 18

Select the Rotate tool rotate on the main toolbar and rotate the teapot slightly in the Top viewport.
Step 11

We can insert the teapot into the microwave just as it is or we can add a bit more realism to the image by placing a plate under the teapot. Let's work in maximize viewport to create the plate.

Click any where in the front viewport then the Maximize Viewport toggle maximize viewport or you can use the hotkey shortcut Alt W.

Use the Select & Move tool select-move to raise the teapot, we need to have a bit of a separation between the teapot and plane to work.  
We are going to create a plate with a line then use a Lathe modifier, in the next step.

Step 12

Go to Shapes shapes, select Line.

Click the first vertex (the first vertex is always yellow) under the teapot, right in the center and drag the line to the side, click to leave an other vertex and lift the line up this will create a little bit of shape, click again, drag the line down and return to the center inserting the the same a mount of vertices, right click on the last vertex to finish the line.

Step 13

Let's modify the line before we add the Lathe Modifier.

Go to the Modifier modify_button, select vertex.

First with the Select & Move tool select-move move the first and last vertex, so they are exactly above one an other.

There are several ways to smooth the vertex corners we will use Fillet fillet.

Press Fillet then click on one vertex on the corner, hold the mouse and move slightly, an extra vertex appears and you are left with a smooth corner, repeat the Fillet operation on the other vertices.

Step 14

Go to the Modifier List and select Lathe Modifier.
Set Parameters to:

 - Weld Core

 - Flip Normals

 - Segments = 24

 - Direction - Y

 - Align - Min

In the next step we will convert the object to an editable poly.

Step 15

With the Select & Move tool lower the teapot and the plate so they are positioned directly on the plane.

Select the plate, right click and select Editable poly from the drop down menu.

Step 16

Go to the modifier List and select TurboSmooth Modifier.

Set Iterations = 2


Now the object should be perfectly round and smooth.

Step 17

Let's go back to using all four viewports.

Click on Maximize Viewport toggle maximize_viewport or you can use the hotkey shortcut Alt W.

Look at the perspective viewport, the plane is spread over the grid, the plate and teapot are resting directly on the plane, and the microwave is in the background.

Click anywhere in the perspective viewport to activate it, use the Zoom toolzoom or the middle roller on your mouse to zoom in slightly and slowly, use the Pan tool pan to move the objects so the plate fits inside the microwave.

Step 18

On the main toolbar select the Rotate tool rotate , then in the perspective viewport rotate the plane on the Z axis (the yellow circle on the rotating gizmo)

You can go back to the parameters of the plane and adjust the length and width, and in the top viewport adjust the position.

Step 19

The Matte/Shadow material is used for special effects, we will apply the material to the plane, add a light with a shadow, the plane will become invisible when rendered, and the shadow will still be visible.

Select Material Editor from the main toolbar material_editor or press hotkey M .

Select the second material slot, which is just a normal standard gray material.
Press Get Materialget_material, the Material/Map browser will appear, double click on Matte/Shadow to insert it in to the material slot.

Step 20

The Matte/Shadow material is inserted into the second material slot, now click, hold and drag the microwave map from the first material slot and release it into the map slot of Camera Mapped Background in the Matte/Shadow/Reflection Parameters.

When you release the map the Instance/Copy dialog will appear, select:

 - Instance

Notice how the Matte/Shadow map now has the microwave background map.

With the plane selected in perspective viewport press Assign Material assign_material, or hold and drag the material and release it onto the plane.

Step 21

Let's render, go to the main toolbar select Render render.

Notice the plane is not visible and we can see the bottom of the 2d image perfectly. If your scene is not quiet like this then you can use the Pan, Zoom and Orbit tool in the perspective viewport to adjust the position of the plate. (It might take a bit of practice)


Next we will add some lights.

Step 22

Go to Lights lights - Standard - Skylight

Click anywhere in the perspective viewport to drop the Skylight

In Skylight Parameters set

 -  Multiplier 0,4

Next we will insert an omni light and adjust the shadows.


Step 23

Go to Lights lights - Standard - Mr Area Omni.

In the Top viewport drop the Omni light in the center of the teapot, then in the Front viewport move the Omni straight up.

In the next step we will set the light parameters.


Step 24

In the General Parameters set:

 - Shadows - ON

 - Ray Traced Shadows

In Intensity/Color/Attenuation

 - Multiplier 0,5 (Light intensity)

In Shadow Parameters

 - Dens 0,7 (This will lighten the density of the shadow)

Step 25

Nearly finished, we will add material to the objects.

Open the Material Editor

Select the third material slot, press Get material get_material the Material/Map Browser will appear, this time choose Arch & Design.

Arch & Design have some very good prepared materials. From the drop down menu select:

 - Glass (Solid Geometry)

Apply the glass material to the plate.


Step 26

Now in the forth material slot insert an other Arch & Design map, then from the Arch & Design drop down menu select:

 - . Pearl Finish

Click on the gray default color and select White from the Color Selector Diffuse dialog and apply the material to the teapot.

There is just one more thing to do...

Final Render

Render, if you are satisfied save your image.


I have tried to make this tutorial as easy to follow as possible for beginners, try using the same technique with other 2d images. Enjoy!

Wendy Huther

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