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Clay render in 3DS MAX

Clay render in 3D Studio MAX

Picture 1. Clay render with Light Tracer in 3D Studio MAX.

21.06.2007 Category: 3D (Rendering)
Unfinished models (wip) are often rendered with clay render technique. Clay render means a rendering which looks like a picture of a clay model. In this tutorial I cover easy clay rendering technique in 3DS MAX. This tutorial is designed for 3D Studio MAX 9. Some things might be little different in earlier versions.

1. Material of the 3D Model

Create a material for your 3D model. The standard material of 3D Studio MAX works well. Set the color of diffuse and ambient to very light gray (HSV 0,0,220). It's not wise to use pure white because then the model might merge with the white background. If you want you can also use some other color. One often sees for example little more yellowish clay renderings.

2. The Plane for the 3D Model

Create a plane object under the model. The plane object doesn't have to be very large. It's enough when it's big enough to cover the shadows cast by the model. If you want the plane to blend with the background use exactly the same color in the plane object and in the background, and use white light. However, if you use some color in the light, use that same color in the background and white color in the plane object so that it blends with the background. White is often used as a color of the plane object. The plane object will receive some soft shadows from the model and block the light coming from below.

3. Skylight

Create a Skylight. The position and orientation of the Skylight doesn't matter at all. In any case the Skylight illuminates evenly from all around. By default the Skylight has a light blue color which creates little cold feel into the rendering. You could change that to white or to light yellow if you want a warm feel into your rendering.

4. Light Tracer Settings

Light tracer settings for a clay render

Picture 2. Light Tracer settings. If there is graininess in the picture use larger Rays/Sample value. If there is noise in the image use larger Filter Size value.

Clay rendering of a dragon

Picture 3. Clay rendering in 3D Studio MAX.

Open the Light Tracer settings (Rendering > Advanced Lighting > Light Tracer...) and try to render the model. Lighting and material should look approximately like in the picture 3. There are many settings in the Light Tracer panel but in a simple clay rendering you probably need only two. If there is graininess in the picture use larger Rays/Sample value. If there is noise in the picture use larger Filter Size value. If you want to increase realism set Bounces to 2 and Object Mult: to 0,3. Bounces means the bouncing of the light and Object Mult: tells the intensity of the light after a bounce.

Feel free to read also my other tutorials about the same topic: