3ds Max + Vray Exterior Visualisation: 5 Tips To Create Your Best Exterior Visual Ever

Quick Summary


Here is a quick summary of my blog post so you can decide if this article is for you.

These are the tips in no particular order ..
(you can click on the number to jump to a specific tip, welcome to the future πŸ˜‰ )

1.  Straighten the vertical lines. Architectural photographers do it so we should do it too. After all we are virtual architectural photographers.

2. Use HDRI Lights. This is how I start lighting every scene I create. Once you have this light rig set up you can save it and use it to start all your scenes.

3. Sweet so you have your light set up, but what angle should you have it? Here I explain a quick way to test out your HDRI angles. (this tip even made it into 3D Artist Magazine!)

4. Fog is cool in any exterior image but can be a pain to set up in 3ds Max. So here I show you a real quick hack to create fog in Photoshop.

5. Ready to add grass and bushes, but don't fancy placing each blade of grass one by one :/ Here's how to 'paint grass and plants' using only 3ds Max.


Do you want step-by-step instructions to implement all these tips?


Alright, let's get going. 


Exterior Visualisation


The tips I am going to show you are from the exterior visualisation course but don't worry about that just yet, check out the tips and see if you like them and can use them, because if you don't like them then the course definitely won't be for you ..

These are a few of the things I personally do to speed up my workflow and deliver high quality images to my clients.

Notice that some of the tips here can be used in interior visualisation as well. For example tips 1, 2 and 3.

After you're done reading and watching, you'll have new techniques to use when creating 3D renders. My objective is provide you with techniques that you can start replicating the results in your own images for your own clients.


Do you know what's cool about all of the techniques I am about to show you ..?

Once you learn them, you can use them over and over again. Things like the HDRI tips (2 and 3) can be set up, saved and opened for every scene.

This is going to save you buckets of time in the long run, so invest in yourself now and learn these techniques. I'll now go into details of my favourite exterior tips and show you how you can do the same in your own 3D renderings.

Click the button below to download the guide.

Click the button below to download the guide.

1. Straighten Your Verticals

Do you know the best thing about being a Photographer in the Virtual world ..?

We can bend reality. Literally. 

Check out these two images.


When we have something like the top image it can look a little odd. That's because in reality we view everything as straight, honestly check it out now. Our eyes have auto tilt turned on all the time! 

Imagine doing this as a Real Photographer .. you would have to buy a tilt shift lens. (one of those will cost you upwards of Β£1000) 

Lucky for us we are Virtual Photographers πŸ˜ƒ


This is how I do it ..


Vray Physical Camera

Create a Vray Camera anywhere in the viewport. 

If you want the camera to be where you are viewing from you can just hit Ctrl+C.
Hit C on the keyboard to view through the camera.

Now select your camera. You can do this by clicking on the camera name in the top left of the viewport.  Select Camera from the dropdown. 

Under the Basic Parameters in the modifier panel you can then adjust the vertical tilt.

Easy hey, well it gets easier. How about clicking on auto guess vert tilt.

Vray Camera.gif


Corona Camera

Follow the same instructions as above to create and select your camera but this time in the modifier panel Tick the box next to Automatic vertical tilt.

What, so easy!

Corona Camera.gif


Physical Camera

And finally the trusty 3ds Max standard camera. Again, use the same steps to get to the modifier panel but this time take a look under Perspective Control, there's an Auto Vertical Tilt Correction button here too.

Physical Camera.gif



I usually straighten verts in 3ds Max for reasons you will soon find out. 

But if you have already rendered your image you can also do this in Photoshop.

The easiest way is to go to Filter > Lens Correction. Under Transform, move the Vertical Perspective controller.

The problem with using this technique is you are going to lose some of your image.


2. Use High Dynamic Range Images to Light your Scenes

This is it, the secret sauce πŸ˜ƒ How to achieve highly realistic renders. And this is how I light nearly every scene. First I am going to explain what a HDRI is, then I will walk you through how to set it up.

Want to know another secret ..?

Once you have set this up, you can save it as Exterior_Lighting.max and use it for lighting in your future projects. All you have to do is swap out the HDR image.

There you go, we have eliminated one of the most time consuming tasks already!

2.1 What is a HDRI?


HDRI is short for High Dynamic Range Image... 

They are panoramic images that are shot at different exposures and then combined into one 32-bit image. 

But all you really need to know is they can be used in 3D programs as a light source. They create very natural and realistic lighting effects. 

whats a hdr.gif

2.2 So how do I set up a HDRI in my scene?


Great question, I am glad you asked!


This is how I do it ..


Start by downloading the Step By Step Guide and watching the video below ..

3. Get The Light Right


Nice work, still with me? Cool.


So we have set up our lighting and it looks pretty cool but what if I want to change the direction of the sun? Well don't worry, I've got you covered :-)


This tip got me a full page in 3D Artist magazine!

3D Artist – Issue 98 2016_Page_080.jpg

Alright, so most people would hit Lock to Icon in the light settings, rotate it a little then hit render, wait, look at it, rotate it again, hit render... not us though. 


We are going to keyframe, which means animate the light to rotate every 10-25 degrees, hit render once and make a coffee..


Got that coffee? Here is your render..


HDR Ani.gif

This is how I do it ..

You can download all the guides at once by clicking below.


When I first started out with 3D I was doing all this stuff manually over and over. 

But when you start working for design studios you soon realise that you haven't got time to start from scratch every time.

So make sure you start creating systems of everything you do more than once. 

The name of the game is to eliminate repetitive tasks and focus on creating remarkable images.

4. Atmosphere


Now this image is looking pretty good..

But there is something missing ..


Like straightening the verticals this can be done in both 3ds Max and Photoshop. Personally I prefer doing it in Photoshop. I feel like I have more control and it takes less render time. 

If you do want to do it in 3ds Max you can hit 8 on the keyboard to open the Environment Settings. Add fog and active it. 


Fog settings.gif

But if you want to do it like me ..

Pretty cool, huh?

5. Paint with Plants

But what exterior image is complete with out plants, trees, grass, leaves, rocks..

I have saved the best for last. As I mentioned earlier it's all about saving time to allow you to be more creative.

This one is going to save you tons of time.

We are going to use pre-made models of grass in this example.
We create a ground plane and then use a brush to 'paint' grass randomly over the surface.

Let me explain..

Your Next Steps ..

I hope you enjoyed this article and learned a thing or two .. :-)

Are you a 3D Artist?

If yes .. Do you have a system to deliver top notch results everyday..?

This is what clients are looking for ..

Consistency ..

If you feel like uping your β€œgame” ..

Take the Full Class Here


Make sure to get all my free resources below and implement the tips to speed up your workflow!

Click the button below to download the guide.

Click the button below to download the guide.

Render on!