Tutorial: Creating Product Renders with Mental Ray

Tutorial: Creating Product Renders with Mental Ray

Designer, Tanya Wiesner, provides a “how to” on how she creates high quality product renders using Mental Ray. 

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I was asked by Nick, from Pinshape, to create this tutorial and share my tips on setting up high quality product renders. In my particular case, I am using 3DS Max and Mental Ray. I chose Mental Ray over Vray and 3ds Max’s default lighting system as I felt it gave me a more accurate, real-world look for the the products I intend to have printed out in 3D.


Preparing the Scene

Before setting up the lights, it is important to set up your 3D software’s system unit of measurements to be a real world unit of measurement.  In my case, I chose to use metric and set my scene’s system units to be millimeters. This way I could re-use the scene for other rendering uses. The display unit scale in 3ds Max is set to centimeters as that is the unit scale I commonly use when building shapes in 3ds Max. I also changed my render setup from default Scanline to Mental Ray.


Unit Setup


Stage Setup


BG Setup


The background isn’t really important, but I like to have a stage for my model to stand in front or on top of. That way, when the lights are placed in the scene, the rays have something to bounce off of. This gives the model some of the reflective properties and color variations that occur in real life. I applied a Mental Ray Arch & Design material to the stage background. I sometimes give the background a material color other than white or gray so the lighting within the scene will bounce the color onto the model.


Import Object


Import Object


Now, before setting up the lights, I imported my object into my scene. Since I usually sculpt with ZBrush and export out in inches, I told the OBJ importer to convert the scale to meters. I then applied an Arch & Design material to the imported mesh. In the material parameters, I changed the template to “Matte Plastic” and reload the mesh’s texture into the diffuse slot of the material. 


Lights Setup

In my scene, I placed 2 photometric free lights. The only difference between the lights is the kelvin. I set Light 1 to 6000.0 and light 2 to 7000.0. I changed the shadows to “RayTraced” shadows for both lights, the Light Distribution to “Uniform Diffuse” and the shadow samples to 32.


Lights Setup Scene

Light Parameters


Environment Settings

In 3ds Max, there is a environments settings that allows the user to control the exposure and set the background of the scene. I opened this panel up to change the exposure template to MR Photographic exposure control. This, in turn, brought up a subset of parameters to control that I modify on a case by case basis according to the the look that I am trying to achieve with the render.


Environ Parameters


Post Work

Occasionally, the exposure controls in 3ds Max don’t give me the final result that I am looking for, so I load my renders into Photoshop where I will can apply a curves and levels image adjustment to fix the coloration and shadowing.

See more of Tanya’s renders here!


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