In this VRay material tutorial for 3Ds Max we will run through the VRayMtl material settings, the most commonly used material, and get a feel for what options affect the material in what ways. This run through tutorial only covers the VRayMtl which will prove to be the starting point for most VRay users. After this guide we will then start to look at the other material types VRay has to offer and how we can utilise them in our scenes.
We will be using our example VRay material scene for this tutorial, which you can download from the sidebar on the right, if you wish to follow along.
Let’s get started and creative!
Advantages over standard material
VRayMtl is the standard material provided for VRay, which provides a better foundation for physical illumination along with a speed boost in your renders, opposed to the standard 3Ds Max material which will give you unrealistic and slow results.
The diffuse provides the base colour for an object, and is easily changed between a solid colour or a Bitmap.
The roughness setting can help make a material look flatter or dustier. Below we have an example of a material with roughness at 0 and at 1.0.
The reflection parameter, as the name says, alters the reflections on the material. The reflection colour alters not only the colour of the reflection, but the strength too – Black gives no reflection, while 100% white creates a 100% reflective material such as a mirror or chrome.
The reflection parameter also affects the strength of the diffuse, with stronger reflections weakening the colour. Reflection and diffuse always play off each other and the stronger the reflection, the weaker the diffuse and vice versa.
Below see an image with 0 reflection and 128 reflection.
The Fresnel reflection option changes the way the reflections are portrayed, it allows the reflection to be dictated by the viewing angle, allowing the reflections to be stronger if the surface is more parallel to the camera. Its a rule of thumb that most real world objects feature Fresnel reflections, and the type of reflection depends on the Fresnel IOR (Index of Refraction). The examples below feature an IOR of 1.1 and 10.
The reflection glossiness changes how sharp the reflections on the object appear. This can really help define the type of material your going for, as metals and polished materials generally have very sharp reflections, while rougher materials such as concrete or brick have blurrier reflections. Here a value of 1 gives the sharpest reflection and 0 is blurred. Be sure to alter the Subdivs here to counteract noise, especially when including blurred reflections.
Below are two examples showing reflection glossiness of 0.2 and 0.9.
Refractions control how much light the VRay material lets through, and ultimatly how transparent the object becomes. This option comes into its own when used to create VRay water or glass.
Below we have examples with a refraction value of 50 and 200.
The value of the Refraction IOR dictates how the light bends when entering and exiting the object and can help distinguish between say glass and liquid. Here is where you really should play about to slightly tweak the refraction effect. A few base IOR figures to work from are;
Water – 1.332
Glass – 1.517
Plastic – 1.46
Refraction glossiness works in a similar way to the Reflection glossiness and ultimately changes how sharp or blurry the refraction on an object is. Below we have examples of a refraction glossiness of 1.0 and of 0.6 which is great for frosted glass. Again just like the reflection glossiness setting remember to adjust the Subdivs when using blurry refractions to avoid noise.
Fog colour is great at simulating realistic refractions on objects that have a mixture of thick and thin areas, as it realistically adjusts the colour intensity on thicker objects as thick objects appear less transparent than thin objects.
Anistropy allows you to alter the shape and rotation of an objects reflections and highlights.
The opacity map does what it says and alters the opacity of the objects surface, with 100% white showing a non-opaque object whilst 100% black creates invisible areas on the object. This VRay material option comes in handy when rendering items such as leaves where you can mask out the area around the leaf to simulate the appearance of a leaf shape, without actually modelling the edge of the leaf.
Bump and Displace
Both the bump and displacement options allow you to alter the surface of an object without manually adjusting the model. The main difference between bump and displacement is that bump doesn’t alter the actually geometry of the object, it only simulates a deformation on the surface. The displacement map does alter the object’s geometry allowing for realistic looking deformation.
This provides a time effective method of rendering flooring, brickwork etc as you can apply a displacement map opposed to manually modelling the entire surface. The white/black values of the bump/displacement map affects how far in and out the objects surface is altered. A value of grey doesn’t alter the surface at all, whilst white pushes the surface out, and black pushes it in.
Below shows the difference between a bump map and a displacement map. As you can see the bump only alters the appearance of the surface, while displacement alters the objects geometry.
We hope that this VRay material tutorial will allow you to experiment and understand the basic of the VRayMtl. We will post more complex tutorials looking at other VRay material options such as the VRayBlendMtl and displacement maps in more detail.
Please do not copy this tutorial on your own site, however we are happy for you to share it and link back here to its original source. 🙂