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3D Realism With 3D Studio Max & V-Ray - Final Post Production

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What You'll Be Creating

In the final part of the Achieving 3D Realism: Reception Area Render With 3D Studio Max & V-Ray Premium series, we'll continue the post-production process in Photoshop and finalize the image by adding the finishing touches and making further refinements to our render.

Also available in this series:

  1. Achieving 3D Realism: Reception Area Render With 3D Studio Max & V-Ray, Part 1
  2. Achieving 3D Realism: Reception Area Render With 3D Studio Max & V-Ray, Part 2
  3. Achieving 3D Realism: Reception Area Render With 3D Studio Max & V-Ray, Part 3 Lighting And Rendering
  4. Achieving 3D Realism: Reception Area Render With 3D Studio Max & V-Ray, Part 4 Lighting And Rendering
  5. Achieving 3D Realism: Reception Area Render With 3D Studio Max & V-Ray: Post Production
  6. Achieving 3D Realism: Reception Area Render With 3D Studio Max & V-Ray: Final Post Production

Project Overview

The following tutorial is based on a real project. This unique tutorial will take users through the real process of creating shaders with bespoke physical properties and applying textures based on real photo references. The subsequent stage will introduce users to the fascinating process of creating and matching the overall lighting closely to the original photo reference supplied by the client while using state-of-the- art techniques to achieve fast and convincing results.

The final step will navigate users through the intricacies of using the best post-production approaches to help enhance and finalize the 3d shot at the highest level. Most post-production effects implemented in this tutorial are kept in layers with their respective masks to achieve the ultimate control over the final results.

Post Production

Photoshop is very powerful and useful when addressing quick changes and/or effects that would otherwise be time consuming to address in 3Ds Max alone.

Having said that is equally important to have relatively decent renders from Max, at one’s disposal for Post-Production. This work process will ultimately prove very fruitful for one’s final piece.

In this final part of the tutorial, we will bring in the main rendered image, along with its pre-rendered element.

Continued From Part 5...

103. Looking at the photo reference, it seems that there’s more shadow contrast around the chair areas than there is in the rendered image. It’s probably due to the fact that the ceiling light designs of both scenes are different.

To correct this we are going to add another “levels” adjustment layer on top and reduce its middle input level to 0.62. See fig.103

Fig 103.0 - Click To Enlarge

104. Next, select the “mask thumbnail” of the new “levels” adjustment layer.

Enable the “brush” tool (b) and set its transparency to about 30% for better control of its intensity when omitting undesired areas.

Begin brushing around to omit sections other than the chair areas. This is to localize the prominence of the shadows (i.e. chair area). See fig. 104.0

Fig 104.0 - Click To Enlarge

105. To finalize fine-tuning the colors and the contrast of the image we are going to create one more “levels” adjustment layer.

A- Once created, in the “RGB” channels, reduce the “output levels” to about 228 to darken the image slightly.

B- Also, reduce the middle input levels to 0.78.

C- In the “red” channel, increase the middle input level to about 1.10.

D- In the “blue” channel, reduce the middle input level to 0.93 and close the dialog. See fig. 105.0, 105.1 and 105.2

Fig 105.0

Fig 105.1

Fig 105.2

106. The image levels and colors are now matched closer to the photo reference.

Next, we are going to slightly omit the darkness caused by this new layer on top right areas of the image.

A- Enable the brush tool and set its opacity to about 20% for better control of its intensity.

B- Brush around the overly dark areas of the image to balance it more realistically. See fig. 106.0

Fig 106.0 - Click To Enlarge

107. In reality, most light sources have a slight rim color around its glow edges. To make the image even more convincing we are going to emulate this effect.

A- Open a photo under the name of “glare.jpg”. This image was chosen mainly because it has the effects we are trying to emulate.

B- Next, we are going to enable the “polygonal lasso tool” (L) and draw around the desired area.

C- Copy (CTRL+C) the selected area from this document and paste it onto the “office close up_final” document.

D- Name this new layer as “glare” and change its layer color to red. See fig.107.0 and 107.1

Fig 107.0 - Click To Enlarge

Fig 107.1 - Click To Enlarge

108. Change its layer blending mode to “lighter color”. This blending mode worked best.

However, feel free to try different ones. See fig.108.0

Fig 108.0 - Click To Enlarge

109. Next, we are going to tweak with its scale and opacity to fit each light model.

A- While the “glare” layer is selected, edit transform it by pressing CTRL+T.

B- To distort it, simply right click and choose the “distort” option from list.

C- Begin pushing and pulling its points in order to fit the ceiling light model. See fig.109.0, 109.1 and 109.2

Fig 109.0

Fig 109.1 - Click To Enlarge

Fig 109.2 - Click To Enlarge

110. To feather and partially omit its edges, add a “layer mask thumbnail” to the layer.

Enable the brush tool and set its opacity to about 15%.

Begin brushing around its edges and set the “glare” layer opacity to about 65%. The glare should now fit realistically. See fig.110.0

Fig 110.0 - Click To Enlarge

Duplicate this layer and flip it horizontally to avoid having glares with exact same patters. With the brush tool, you may also use the layer mask to omit different areas of each layer to make them all look unique. See fig.111.0

Fig 111.0 - Click To Enlarge

112. Use the previous techniques to create similar effects for all remaining ceiling light models. Also, create a folder group to incorporate all these new “glare” layers. See fig.112.0

Fig 112.0 - Click To Enlarge

113. It is common practice for professionals to add real photos of people to their images in order to make it more convincing.

People cut-outs are often added to give a sense scale to space or to simply show the design/space being used.

A- Prior to adding people/person in post, a box primitive is usually created in 3Ds max, to be later used as a reference for height in post (1.7m from the floor upwards).

B- A screen grab is then taken from the 3Ds Max scene and pasted into Photoshop (i.e. 3Ds Max>prtsc >Photoshop> CTRL+N > CTRL+V).

C- In Photoshop, select the camera view boundaries of the screen grab. Copy and paste it onto the relevant document.

Also, name this new layer as “people size”. See fig.113.0, 113.1 and 113.2

Fig 113.0 - Click To Enlarge

Fig 113.1 - Click To Enlarge

Fig 113.2 - Click To Enlarge

114. Next, we are going to scale it to match the proportions of the main document.

A- To begin transforming the layer, press the “CTRL+T”.

B- To scale the layer proportionally, simply hold down the shift key.

C- While holding down the “shift” key, drag the top left handle to meet the top left corner of the main document. Press “enter” to exit the transform command. See fig.114.0 and 114.1

Fig 114.0

Fig 114.1 - Click To Enlarge

115. With height reference set, it is now time to add a person in the scene.

A- Open the photo of a person walking. This photo was chosen because it adds a sense of motion; it is at the correct angle and also because the shadows/lighting look correct for the scene.

B- Select the relevant parts of the photo.

C- Copy and paste it onto the main document. Also, name this layer as “person walking”. See fig. 115.0 and 115.1

Fig 115.0 - Click To Enlarge

Fig 115.1 - Click To Enlarge

116. Use the transform command to make it proportionally. See fig.116.0

Fig 116.0 - Click To Enlarge

117. Next we are going to cut out the tiny white edges of this layer.

A- Hold down the “CTRL” key and click on the layer to create a selection around it.

B- Contract the selection by clicking on the “select” tool from the main toolbar.

C- On the dropdown list, choose “modify” and “contract”.

D- Contact it by two pixels and invert the selection (SHIFT+CTRL+I.)

E- Cut the selected edges (CTRL+X). See fig.117.0 and 117.1

Fig 117.0 - Click To Enlarge

Fig 117.1

118. The following step is to color correct this layer to match the rest of the image and motion blur it.

Some users would simply move this layer under the other adjustment layers in order to color correct it. It probably wouldn’t match as accurately because the original photo has a different lighting.

Also, most users would use adjustment layers as previously done to match it. But since this layer will be later blurred, it makes sense NOT to do it.

For this reason we are going to color correct it individually.

A- While the “person walking” layer is still selected, add the “color balance” image adjustment (CTRL+B) to it.

B- Tweak with its colors to match with the rest of the image. It is worth observing closely how the changes are blending with the rest of the image. See fig.118.0 and 118.1

Fig 118.0

Fig 118.1 - Click To Enlarge

119. Next add the “hue/saturation” image adjustment (CTRL+U). Use the “master”, “red”, “yellow” and “blue” channels to further match the layer with the rest of the image. See fig. 119.0, 119.1, 119.2 and 119.3

Fig 119.0

Fig 119.1

Fig 119.2

Fig 119.3

120. The layer is now blending quite well with the rest of the image.

Add the “curves” image adjustment (CTRL+M), and use the techniques described earlier to fully match the layer. See fig. 120.0

Fig 120.0

121. Duplicate the layer prior to adding the “motion blur” filter. Since the “motion blur” filter is not an adjustment layer, professionals often duplicate the main layer in case there’s a need to reverse back to the original layer, at a later stage.

A- Click on the “filter” main toolbar and choose the “motion blur” filter from the dropdown list.

B- Use the motion blur “preview” dialog to control the pixels’ “distance” on the layer. See fig. 121.0 and 121.1

Fig 121.0

Fig 121.1 - Click To Enlarge

122. Next, we are going to apply the “chromatic aberration” effect to make the image more realistic and “photo like”.

While this effect will enhance the quality of one’s image, it can only be fully appreciated when used with subtlety.

This effect can only be applied on flattened documents. For this reason, we need to duplicate and flatten the original document.

A- To duplicate the document, simply select and right click on the top most part of the document.

B- Choose to “duplicate” on the pop up menu.

C- Name this new document as “ca” (chromatic aberration).

D- Select on any of the layers. Right click and choose the “flatten” option.

E- Also, choose to “discard hidden layers”. The document is now flattened. See fig. 122.0 and 122.1

Fig 122.0

Fig 122.1

123. We now need to have two different flattened documents to tweak with “chromatic aberration” visibility.

A- Duplicate this new flattened document and name it “image”. We should now have two separate flattened documents.

B- Select the “ca” document and zoom in at 100 %( type in 100% at the bottom left part of the document). This is to ensure that when moving/nudging the document channels, only one pixel is nudged.

C- Select the “channels” tab. See fig.123.0 and 123.1

Fig 123.0 - Click To Enlarge

Fig 123.1 - Click To Enlarge

124. Next, enable the “move” tool (v).

Select the “red” channel and nudge it up once only, with the arrow “up” key.

Select the “green” channel and nudge it down once only, with the arrow “down” key.

Now Select the “blue” channel and nudge it to the left once only, with arrow “left” key.

Finally, select the “RGB” channel at the top, to switch back to the color mode. The chromatic aberration effect has now been created.

See fig.124.0, 124.1, 124.2 and 124.3

Fig 124.0 - Click To Enlarge

Fig 124.1 - Click To Enlarge

Fig 124.2 - Click To Enlarge

Fig 124.3 - Click To Enlarge

125. The chromatic aberration effect is currently very prominent. The next step is to try to make it more subtle and more appealing.

A- Back to the layers’ tab, duplicate the layer and set its destination document to be “image” document. Name this new layer as “ca”. See fig.125.0, 125.1 and 125.2

Fig 125.0 - Click To Enlarge

Fig 125.1

Fig 125.2 - Click To Enlarge

126. To begin reducing the prominence of the “ca” layer we are going to decrease its layer opacity first and create a layer mask. Reduce its opacity to about 80%.

Next, Enable the brush tool and set it to about 30%.

Zoom into the document at 100% and begin brushing off (omitting) areas where the chromatic aberration is too strong. For more precise results, reduce the brush size to about 30 with the “[“key. See fig.126.0

Fig 126.0 - Click To Enlarge

127. To finalize this process, we are going to add a bit of vignetting effect to make the image more appealing.

This effect will be used as an adjustment layer for the ultimate control to edit and/or turn it off when necessary.

A- Enable the “elliptical marquee tool” tool from the side toolbar.

B- Next, click and drag this tool from the bottom right part of the document, to the top left part of it. Its selection should be turned on. See fig. 127.0 and 127.1

Fig 127.0

Fig 127.1 - Click To Enlarge

128. While the selection is still on, feather its edges (alt+ctrl+d) and set the “feather radius” value to about 75 pixels. This value worked well, but feel free try a different value. See fig.128.0 and 128.1

Fig 128.0

Fig 128.1

129. Inverse the selection to affect the edges of the document only (SHIFT+CTRL+I.)

Next, add the “levels” adjustment layer and decrease its “output levels” value to about 20, to darken it. See fig.129.0, 129.1 and 129.2

Fig 129.0 - Click To Enlarge

Fig 129.1

Fig 129.2

130. Next, we are going to name this layer as “vignetting” and scale it proportionally (CTRL+T) so it affects the corner of the documents only.

Finally, use the techniques covered earlier to make it more subtle and to reduce its prominence in certain areas of the image. One satisfied with the results, you can also duplicate and place the “vignetting” layer in the main PSD file, if desired. See fig. 130.0, 130.1 and 130.2

Fig 130.0 - Click To Enlarge

Fig 130.1 - Click To Enlarge

Fig 130.2 - Click To Enlarge

131. Finally save the file as Tiff and close the other documents. See fig.131.0 and 131.1

Fig 131.0 - Click To Enlarge

Fig 131.1 - Click To Enlarge
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