Software Used :
3ds Max and mental ray
Step 1 : Modeling
In this tutorial I want to show a relatively easy technique for making a chainmail in 3ds Max using a displacement map and mental ray. In this example I’ll show how to make the displacement map and how to get a good quality render with as few artifacts as possible using a simple Arch & Design material. The idea is that you can use this setup to create a tileable chainmail texture like I used on this knight (Fig.02).
Step 2 : Generating Displacement Map
First you must create a surface with UV coordinates as a target for your displacement map. You can do this by simply creating a plane and positioning it on top of your rings (Fig.04).
Position so it just barely touches the rings, and assign mapping coordinates. With the plane you created selected, open the Render To Texture dialog box (Rendering > Render To Texture (press 0)) (Fig.05):
- Make sure you see the name of your plane here (shows name of selected object in Max).
- Click the Pick… button and select your rings. In the options menu here you can play around with the Min and Max Height settings to get a greater range in your displacement map.
- Choose Use Existing Channe” in the mapping coordinates menu, otherwise new ones will be auto generated.
- Assign a file name and destination. Choose tiff file format and make sure you select 16 bit texture to get best result. Then choose Displacement Map in the Target Map Slot.
- Set the Element Background color to black.
- Set the image resolution to 2048×2048 or higher (you might want to do a test render at a lower resolution first). Then click render.
It can take some time to render depending on your resolution. When the render is complete, it should look something like this (Fig.06).
Step 3 : Creating Material
Now that we have our displacement map, we need to create an Alpha map. I won’t go into detail, but I simply modified the Brightness and Contrast settings in Photoshop to make the alpha from the displacement map. Alternatively you can generate one from the Render to Texture menu in Max.
And here’s the Alpha map (Fig.07).
Set up an Arch & Design shader and assign your maps (Fig.08).
Give the displacement map a Strength of 1.0 to begin with. We’ll go back and tweak textures and material settings once we get some test renders done.
Step 4 : Rendering
It’s time to set up a small scene to render our chainmail material. I created a simple setup using the plane we created to generate the displacement map with a camera, a couple of lights and a background. How you set it up is up to you.
Here’s a screenshot from my test scene (Fig.09).
The results of the first render (Fig.10).
Render again and you should have a more defined result (Fig.13).
Here is a comparison between Edge Length 0,2 and the default 2,0 from our first render (Fig.15).
Thanks for reading!