excel with product visualisation in V-ray
Hussain Almossawi guides us through professional V-ray tips
In this tutorial, we will be looking at a product visualisation workflow. In this case, I will be taking one of the toys that I have designed and explaining how to render, colour and present it in an interesting way. Designing the product is usually half the challenge but then the way in which we present it to the world completes the story full circle and can either elevate a product and take it to another level or kill it and make it undesirable, even if it’s a pretty cool design.
In this tutorial, we will be talking about some of the key elements when it comes to rendering, the kinds of materials to use, cameras, environments and choosing the most interesting angles and views to render your product in. I see all of these things as a recipe to a great and exciting outcome to a project, whether it’s a car, bike, shoe or anything else.
This tutorial will be short but it will cover the key points that you can consider and start to apply when the time comes for you to start rendering your own projects for your clients or portfolio. I urge you to explore each tip further and see what you can make out of it. For example, when we are discussing lighting, every kind of lighting setup could result in a different mood for your render. It could feel vibrant and fresh instead of serious and dry.
In terms of software, the points covered are applicable to any program but I will be using 3ds Max and rendering in V-ray, with the final touch-ups done in Photoshop. Enjoy the read and let’s make some exciting work together!
Set up studio To start with, I usually go with a pretty basic-looking studio set-up in most of my scenes. I start off by creating my backdrop, a simple L-shaped plane, curved or chamfered smoothly at its corner. I tend to make the backdrop 100 per cent white or 98 per cent black as they both look pretty cool at the completion of the project. If I’m going with black, I try not to make it pure black, though, so that I don’t completely lose all of my floor shadows at the end. For this tutorial, we will be going with a white backdrop.
HDRI lights HDRI lights will completely set the tone and mood of what your finished scene will look like. Every scene and render should give the viewer an experience and feeling with a unique kind of depth using reflections and shadows. HDRI is like using spices in food – it’s often the secret ingredient. In 3ds Max, press 8 on your keyboard to pull up the Environment window and load a V-ray HDRI Map in there of your choice. I strongly suggest that you try out a few different maps and see how they look roughly using V-ray RT.
Camera composition There are two kinds of shots that you want to think of – one is the overall product, which will be your Hero Shot, and the other is a detailed view where you close-up on certain parts to show more details. A good practice is for you to navigate your screen in Perspective view and when you feel like you have
the right angle, turn it into a camera using Ctrl+c. For the Hero shot, I usually go with a camera angle that is on the same level as the product or closer to the ground to exaggerate its size and perspective.
Work on depth of field The depth of field is one of the most important factors in any scene – try rendering one with and without it and you can clearly see the difference. It makes the scene look much more beautiful and professional, focusing on the product and giving a level of blur to the backdrop. I would sometimes put one product in focus and its duplicate in the back where it gets blurred. In your camera settings, turn on Enable Depth of Field and place your camera target on your product. Play with the Lense Breathing and Aperture settings to see the results in your viewport by waiting a few seconds.
Add some details for realism Adding details will always show another level of complexity to your product and it doesn’t have to be something crazy. Once I am done with a design, I like to go in and start adding labels, texts, shiny patterns on matte surfaces and so on. In this case, for example, you can see the ‘Space Explorer’ text. There are also other details around its body with random numbers, recycling and environmental labels, and a ‘Made in…’ tag that makes it feel much more complete. I usually apply these graphics by unwrapping my model and using a V-ray Blend Material.
Textures and environment surfaces now that we have our cameras, lights and studio setup, we can use the same settings to apply an environment. The environment should be another asset that adds a level of complexity, tying in to the story of the product. In this scenario, to make it interesting, I created a square plane, applied a Turbosmooth with ten iterations to subdivide it well, and then applied a displace modifier with a noise map. I then applied a hi-res sand asphalt material, which made the scene feel like it’s in outer space.
Render passes Go to your Render Settings window and choose the last tab, Render Elements, to add the Denoiser, Wire Color and Vrayedgestex. The Denoiser pass will give us an amazing collection of passes that will allow us to control our reflections, refractions, shadows and GI later in Photoshop. The Wire Color will give you a pass with each element in the scene rendered in a different colour, which is very useful for masking objects in Photoshop. Finally, the Vrayedgestex will be the Ambient Occlusion, giving us our shadows. To make that work, add a Vraydirtmap in its material slot.
Composite the passes At this stage, we will start to transition to Photoshop. Export all of your passes and take them into Photoshop to start playing with the blend modes. It’s usually Screen, Multiply or Overlay that work best and adjust their opacity levels. In this scene, since his head is made of glass, I rendered the toy with and without the top cover, just to get better colours on the brain. Then, using my Wire Color pass, I was able to mask out the Diffuse Filter pass of the brain without the cover and overlay it on the original render with the glass cover. My favourite method is to take the World normals, desaturating it and setting it to Overlay. The depth of your scene will be at a much higher level with that one layer.
Retouch in Photoshop Finally, on top of all the layers, create a Curves adjustment layer by clicking on the circle at the bottom of the Layers panel. Slightly move that curve around to give your scene more depth. Add another Adjustment Layer for Hue/saturation, and control the saturation level of your scene. To give a nice touch of detail, I would place an image of scratches or small dust particles and overlay it at ten per cent.
My favourite method is to take the World normals, desaturating it and setting it to Overlay