Tuesday, November 18, 2008

03) Making a Landscape with 3ds studio max

1) Create a plane in the top viewport. Width and length should be around 15m by 15m. For realistic scenes, if other objects were to be included, you would want to choose real dimensions, such as 100 m x 100 m. In the modify tab, adjust the length and width segments to around 25. The more segments, the more the plane will become modified later on.
2) In the modify tab, select DISPLACE. In image rollout, click on NONE for map, and choose NOISE. (you can use smoke as well, or choose bitmap and use your own map you make in photoshop. )
Increase the strength to 1.5 meter. You should now see peaks and valleys in the plane. For taller peaks, use a strength number higher than 1.5 m.
*Extra Info*
Maps read the alpha channels of a picture, i.e. the amount of black and white, and different degrees of gray. White means positive, black means negative. 3dsm will let you use a color photo as well, and it will automatically adjust levels of black and white in the image. The default NOISE map in 3dsm is an excellent image of black with white speckles, which means all white speckles will become "peaks" in the displacement. Smoke had a good black and white image as well.

3) Though the plane has peaks and valleys, it has not deformities on the other axises. Therefore, we will add a NOISE modifier. Click on modifier, and click on NOISE. Use these settings.
You can see now the plane has more randomness and complexity in shape. Rotate and zoom with the perspective camera till you find a suitable spot to work with. I choose an area that looked like this.
4) Now for some interesting methods. We will make 2 copies of this ground plane layer, and place each copy just SLIGHTLY under the one above it. Click on the plane, and click on the move button. Zoom in on either the right of front viewports to a nice close-up view, but with the move gizmo still visible. Hold down SHIFT and then move the plane down the y axis ( use the gizmo to constrain the axis ). Let go of the mouse button, and it will ask you if you want to clone the image. Click YES. You now have made a copy of the layer by simply holding shift. Do this again, and create a 3rd layer just under the first two.

5) All the modeling is done. Now to texture the model. We will use standard 3dsm materials, since they look good, and you already have them. But for future reference, you can use ANY texture you want. Open up material editor, click on any new gray sphere, and click on GET MATERIAL button, and look through. Material library for Ground_Grass. Double click to add it to the sphere in the material editor.

Open up the MAPS rollout ( if not open already ) and select OPACITY. Leave at 100, check the box to on, and then click on the word NONE to select a map. Select the FALLOFF map. You will see you grassy sphere has quite some opacity to it. This opacity will vary with height conditions. Assign this material to the TOP MOST plane ( the first one you made most likely ).
Give a test render. If the grass looks to zoomed in or blocky, increase the tiling. Do this by clicking on the diffuse color map, and then make the tiling 2 instead of 1 for U and V directions.

6) Now, choose a new gray sphere again, and apply the material Ground_Gray Dirt ( standard ). Again, choose a Falloff opacity map, and tile the diffuse channel to 2 if you think necessary. Aplly this material to the SECOND ground plane - the one JUST under the grassy plane. Try a test render. You should now be able to see the grass AND where the grass is see through, you can see the cracked ground dirt.
7) Final texture, choose a new gray sphere, and choose the material Ground_SandShore ( standard ). Do not bother with an opacity map on this layer, since there will be nothing more under it. Just simply apply it to the third ground plane ( the bottom most one ). Feel free to increase the tiling to 2 or whatever
you think looks best. Give another test render, it should look like this.

8) Now we need a sky. 3dsm comes with some sky pics, or you could find ANY on the internet - just search google for SKY pictures. Anyway, click on Render, then Environment from the menu at the top. On environment map, click on NONE and choose BITMAP - then search your hard drive for the sky pic you found. ( an alternate, more adjustable way of doing this is to create a plane or box behind the perspective image, and then in material editor, apply the sky pic bitmap to the plane ( or box ) you just made. This way, you can adjust the length and width of the pic you just used, but it takes a little more work. For beginners, try just simply using the environment option.

9) The last step is to add light to the scene. The simplest thing to do do is to add an omni or spotlight onto the scene - with most light towards the back of the view ( where the sky is ). Make sure to turn shadows ON in the modify tab.

Here my final render: Landcape.jpg That is it for making a landscape. Very realistic looking, and not too much work. I would like to show you one last optional step. You can very easily add FOG to this mountaintop by this method:
Go to render - environment again. Under atmosphere, click add, then add VOLUME FOG. Then play around with the setting to your hearts content. But make sure fog background is on, that you lower density to 5-10, and that you turn on EXPONENTIAL. You can get a result like this

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