Preparing Source Objects
 
 
 

You will start by creating a group of tree objects which the proxies will use as a source. You’ll then define materials for the trees and save the materials to a library for later use.

Define a tree object:

  1. Open 3ds Max and from the Create panel > Objects list, choose AEC Extended.

  2. On the Object Type rollout, click Foliage and on the Favorite Plants rollout click American Elm.

  3. In the Perspective viewport, click on the center of the grid to place the tree.
  4. Zoom out until the tree is in full view, then maximize the viewport.
  5. On the Modify panel > Parameters rollout, click the New button to the left of Seed.

    Each time you click the Seed button, the tree branch and trunk configuration changes.

  6. Continue clicking on New until you obtain a tree you like.

Edit Tree Material

  1. Press M to open the Material Editor.

    The top left corner sample slot is already active. You will use this slot to edit the tree material.

  2. Click the eye dropper icon then click any part of the tree.

    The Multi/Sub-Object Basic Parameters rollout contains five sub-materials, each assigned separately to the trunk, branches, and leaves. The Canopy sub-material is for viewport display when the tree object is not selected.

    You will now change the diffuse values of the trunk material to brighten up the rendered image.

  3. On the Multi/Sub-Object Basic Parameters rollout, click Trunk (Standard).
  4. On the Blinn Basic Parameters rollout > Diffuse option, click the map button.

  5. On the Material/Map Browser dialog, double-click on Noise.

    The noise map randomly mixes two colors or materials, to create an irregular surface.

  6. On the Noise Parameters rollout, choose Fractal as the Noise Type, and set the Size spinner to 5.0.

  7. Click the Color #1 color chip and choose a medium-dark brown color, (such as R: 77, G:41, B:5), then click the Color #2 color chip and choose a light tan or beige color (such as R: 146, G:124, B:102).

  8. Render the Perspective viewport to see how the new diffuse values appear on the tree trunk. If you are not satisfied with the result, feel free to go back and make further changes to the material color.

    Rendering of new trunk material

    Now, you will copy the modified trunk material to the branches.

  9. Click Go To Parent twice to go up two levels and display the parameters of the parent material.
  10. Click and drag the Trunk material as an instance to the Branch0 material, then do the same for the Branch1 material.

  11. On the Multi/Sub-Object Basic Parameters rollout, click Leaves (Standard).
  12. On the Blinn Basic Parameters rollout > Diffuse option, click the map button and on the Material/Map Browser dialog, double-click on Noise.
  13. On the Noise parameters rollout, choose Fractal for Noise Type, and set the Size spinner to 3.0.
  14. Set the Noise Threshold High spinner to 0.7, the Low spinner to 0.3, and the Levels spinner to 10.0.

    These values will increase the level of detail between the two colors you are about to choose.

  15. Click the Color #1 color chip and choose a medium-dark green color (such as R: 0, G:73, B:0), then click the Color #2 color chip and choose a light green color (such as R: 175, G:189, B:171).

  16. Render the tree to see the new diffuse values for the leaf and branch material.

    Tree with two-color leaf material

  17. Go up two levels and rename the material Tree-Spring.

Add more trees:

  1. On the main toolbar, click Select And Move. In the Perspective viewport, Shift+select and move the tree object to the right.

  2. Create three copies so that you have a row of four trees.
  3. Select the far left tree and on the Modify panel, rename it Elm-Winter.

  4. Select the tree to its right and on the Modify panel, rename it Elm-Spring.
  5. Rename the remaining two trees Elm-Summer and Elm-Fall.
  6. Select the Elm-Summer object and on the Modify panel > Parameters rollout, click the New button to the left of Seed.
  7. Continue clicking on New until you obtain a tree you like.
  8. Set the Density spinner to 0.75.

    This value reduces foliage by a slight amount to reflect the leaf loss a typical tree experiences by mid-summer.

    Next, you want to alter the leaf material to give its diffuse color value a less saturated shade of green.

  9. On the Material Editor, drag the tree material one slot to the right to copy it.

  10. Rename the copied material Tree-Summer.
  11. On the Multi/Sub-Object Basic Parameters rollout, click the Leaves sub-material button and on the Blinn Basic Parameters rollout, click the Diffuse color chip, and using the color controls that display, choose a lighter green color.

  12. Make sure the Elm-Summer object is still selected, and click the Assign Material To Selection to apply color to it.

    The diffuse color you just selected is applied to the tree object in the viewport only and not in the final render. You must now choose the color of the leaf material to be rendered.

  13. Click the Diffuse map button.

  14. On the Noise Parameters rollout, update the Color #1 and Color #2 values to display a yellowish, less intense shade of green.

  15. In the Perspective viewport, zoom in and pan until both the spring and summer trees are visible, then render the image.

    Summer tree (right) shows different leaf density and color

    By specifying a new seed value, reducing the number of leaves, and adjusting leaf color, you can see how the summer tree is distinctly different to the others.

  16. In the Perspective viewport, select the far right tree object and on the Modify panel > Parameters rollout, click the New button to the left of Seed.
  17. Continue clicking on New until you obtain a tree you like.
  18. Set the Densityspinner to 0.7.
  19. On the Material Editor, drag the Tree-Summer material one slot to the right and rename the copied material Tree-Fall.
  20. On the Multi/Sub-Object Basic Parameters rollout, click the Leaves sub-material button and on the Blinn Basic Parameters rollout, click the Diffuse color chip, and choose a red-orange value for the viewport display color.
  21. Click Assign Material To Selection to apply the diffuse color to the selected tree.
  22. On the Blinn Basic Parameters rollout, click the Diffuse map button.
  23. On the Noise Parameters rollout, update the Color #1 and Color #2 values to display red and orange.

  24. Render the viewport to see the result.

    Tree-Fall object shows diffuse material values typical to a tree in autumn

  25. Repeat steps 16 to 23 for the far left tree, but with these changes:

    On the Parameters rollout, set the Density value to 0.05 and Level-Of-Detail value to Medium. Rename its copied material Tree-Winter and choose a suitable dark brown color combination for the few leaves that remain on the tree branches. When you are done, render the scene.

    Range of elm trees showing material for all four seasons

    Your elm trees have a range of tree materials, one material for each season. Next, when you create more trees of a different species, you can copy these materials to them rather than re-create the materials from scratch.

Create a second set of trees and copy materials to them:

  1. From the Create panel > Objects list, choose AEC Extended.
  2. On the Object Type rollout, click Foliage and on the Favorite Plants rollout click Generic Oak.
  3. In the Perspective viewport, zoom out and click anywhere in front and to the left of the elm trees.

  4. On the Modify panel, rename the object Oak-Spring.
  5. In the Parameters rollout > Level-Of-Detail group, choose High and set the Density spinner to 1.0. Click the New button to the left of Seed until you see a tree you like.

    Now that you have the tree object defined, you can assign it a material created earlier for one of the elm trees.

  6. On the Material Editor, click the top left corner sample slot, which contains the Tree-Spring material.

  7. Click Assign Material To Selection to apply the material to your oak tree.
  8. Create three copies of the oak tree, name them Oak-Summer, Oak-Fall, and Oak-Winter, and on their Parameters rollouts, change each of their Seed, Density, and Level-Of-Detail settings as you did for the elm trees.
  9. Repeat steps 6 and 7 to assign each tree a summer, fall, and winter material respectively.

    Now you have a set of elm and oak trees, with each set representing all four seasons. You could go on to add as many species as you like to your collection. These objects form the basis of a foliage library that you can re-use in any future scene.

    Two sets of tree species, each set representing all four seasons

  10. Save your work as my_trees.max.

    Next, you need to save the materials that you defined for the trees.

  11. From the main menu, choose Rendering > Material/Map Browser.
  12. On the Material/Map Browser > Browse From group, choose Scene.
  13. In the Show group, turn off Maps, then turn on Root Only.

    A list of all materials used in the scene is displayed at a root level.

  14. In the File group, click Save As and on the Save Material Library dialog > File Name box, type mytrees and click Save.

    The file is saved with a .mat file extension, indicating that it contains material information. The file is placed by default in the project’s materiallibraries folder.

  15. Close the Material/Map Browser and the Material Editor.

Next

Creating mr Proxy Objects