Realistic Water in 3DS Max

This quick tutorial will help you create realistic water for your 3DS Max scenes. You’re going to use mental ray’s Arch& Design material. The trick to water and the A&D material in general is in the details so this is what we’ll be discussing here.

The result:

Realistic Water Texture Tutorial - Final
Mixed with the Realistic Grass, the Old Rock Procedural Texture and the HDR Reflections tutorials:
Realistic Water Texture Tutorial - Final Rats

1/4 The Scene

Download the archive and import the FBX file. The archive also contains the fountain materials. See the end of the tutorial for importing tips.
Download resource archive

Enable the Mental Ray renderer from the Render Setup window/ Common/ Assign renderer. Go to the Customize/ Units Setup and set the Display Unit Scale to Metric/ Centimeters. This is very important as we’ll be working with somewhat exact measurements.
Realistic Water Texture - Units Setup

Go to the Systems tab {Systems Icon} and place a Daylight system in your scene.
Realistic Water Texture - daylight
Select the Daylight system, click the Modify tab {3DS Max Modify Tab} and set the Sunlight to mr Sun and the Skylight to mr Sky.
Realistic Water Texture - daylight settings
To create the water surface, go to the Geometry tab {Geometry tab} and create a simple plane that covers the fountain geometry.
Realistic Water Texture - the water plane
Convert the plane to an editable poly so we can modify its overall shape.
Realistic Water Texture - convert to editable poly

Go to the Modify tab{3DS Max Modify Tab}, select the vertex sub-object and pull-in the corner vertices.

Realistic Water Texture - reshape the water plane

2/4 The Water Base

Open-up the Material Editor {Material Editor Icon} {“M”} and select an empty slot. Press the Standard button and assign an Arch&Design Material.
Realistic Water Texture - arch and design
Select the Water, Reflective Surface from the drop-down menu
Realistic Water Texture - the water material
Now, to make the material actually look like water there are a couple of things we have to keep in mind:
» Fountain water is transparent.
» The water’s texture is mostly generated by reflections
» If the water is still, you won’t notice any reflections. => We need a displacement map.
» Water appears to change its opacity/ color based on depth. => Max Distance color

Continue on page 2

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