From 3DS Max rendering to vCAD, a step-by-step walkthrough

While most have mastered rendered 2D images of their 3D CAD project using 3DS Max, few have actually rendered their entire environment.  There are times when the quick conversion from 3D model to vCAD is sufficient, but then there are other times you want photorealism. This will allow you to see your CAD files with realistic textures and will give you a feel for what you will experience in the real world. In this post, we will take you through the steps of rendering to texture in Autodesk 3DS Max so that you will be able to maximize your (and your customer’s) experience in vCAD.
 

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Revit Fabric Materials rendered then uploaded to vCAD

Revit Fabric Materials uploaded to vCAD

Here are a few examples of the models in the "Revit Material Showcase" on the vCAD Gallery.  They can be viewed via the attached links or inside the vCAD iOS and Android App. 

 

Step-by-step Render to Texture in 3DS Max:

  1. Import your model into 3DS Max
    • File à Import à Browse to your file
      1. 3DS Max is capable of working with all different types of files such as RVT, STL, SKP, FBX, OBJ and more.
    • During an import, you’ll be given a few choices. Make sure that your units match between your imported file and 3DS Max (i.e. if you used feet in Revit be sure that 3DS Max is set to feet as well), otherwise you may experience some scaling issues. You can do this by going to Customize à Units Setup…
  2. Categorize your model by component if you were unable to do so during the import process.
    • This is important for a handful of reasons.
      1. When the model is large, it will break it up into components and the unwrapped UV maps will have more pixels per surface/object, allowing for a better result.
      2. It is much easier to make sure unwrapped UV maps are organized and efficient when it is a single object, involving less polygons.


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  1. Once grouped, if there is not a UVW Map already assigned to the texture, select a group and apply a UV Map to each of them. Make sure that you assign the correct type of UVW map to each of the groups.
    • Tip: In the Viewport, change the view setting to ‘Realistic with maps’. This will allow you to see how the texture is mapped to the object and will help you determine what the best mapping is for the object.
    • Many times, you will need to select ‘Real-World Map Size’ or adjust length, width and height to adjust your texture so that it does not look stretched out or tiled.
    • Make sure that the UVW Map is applied to channel 1. This becomes very important later for when you render to texture. Baked maps will be assigned to channel 2.

 

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  1. After you have it all grouped together, select the render settings icon in the toolbar or go to Rendering → Render Setup... so that you can adjust your render quality.
    • Tip: Make a few simple 2D renders around your model and save the images. This will help you get an idea of how well the render-to-texture performs and can lead to finding mistakes before you fully render the space.
  2. Following the adjustments to your render settings, press ‘0’ or go to Rendering → Render to Texture… to open the render-to-texture settings.
  3. Make sure the correct render settings are selected by clicking “Setup…” under “Render Settings” at the top to double check then select all objects in the model that will be baked.
    • Make sure all your lights and environments are not hidden.
  4. In the ‘Objects to Bake’ panel, make sure all selected objects appear. If not, select the objects you wish to render to texture. If you wish, you can also bake an individual object at a time. I prefer to do this to keep track of how well the model or object looks.

 

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  1. Set the desired padding under ‘Selected Object Settings.’
  2. Under ‘Mapping Coordinates’ make sure ‘Use Automatic Unwrapping’ is selected and “All Selected” is also selected.
    • Make sure that this is set to channel 2, this is where 3DS Max will store your baked map textures. This is very important since if placed in channel 1 it will write over your UVW Map and source textures and it is how vCAD will recognize materials when uploaded.
    • You can choose to unwrap each object manually, but the automatic unwrap does a good job of unwrapping and organizing the maps.
  3. Under the ‘Output’ panel click ‘Add’ and select your desired map. Before you can select the ‘Target Map Slot,’ scroll down to the ‘Baked Material’ panel and select ‘Create New Baked’ and select ‘Standard: Blinn.’ You can then go back up to ‘Target Map Slot’ and select your desired Target map slop.

 

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  1. Next, select the desired width and height so you can achieve your resolution. Remember to keep the aspect ratio at 1(Ratio between width and height) because this is what vCAD requires for optimal resolution and quality.
  2. Before you continue to the next step, save your project as another file as a backup in case you make a mistake rendering to texture. This will allow you to return and correct mistakes.
  3. Once you have all of these settings completed, click ‘Render’ at the bottom and allow your model to unwrap and render to texture.
  4. When your model has completed its render to texture, you will need to check the materials applied to the object. To do this, press ‘M’ or got to Rendering → Material Editor → Slate Material Editor… Select all objects in the viewport and go to Material → Get from Selected.
  5. View all the objects and make sure that all objects have the correct baked material attached to them. Once you are satisfied, clear the view in the Materials Panel by going to ‘Edit’ and selecting ‘Clear View.’
  6. Press ‘0’ or go to Rendering → Render to Texture… to return to the render-to-texture panel and go to the bottom under ‘Baked Material.’ You will then make sure ‘Keep Baked Material’ is selected as well as all baked objects are selected and press ‘Clear Shell Materials.’
    • This will clear all the original materials and will only apply the baked maps. Follow step 16 to see only baked maps are applies to objects.

 

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  1. Check to see if your object baked well. You can do this by clearing all lights and environmental objects and do a scanline render of the object to see if objects look as desired.
  2. Export your file as an FBX. When you select ‘export’ and select ‘FBX’ a menu will pop up for export settings. Under ‘Embedded Media’ make sure that ‘Embedded Media’ is checked. You can then export as an FBX.
  3. You can now upload your file to vCAD and experience your model with virtual interactivity. We’ve written a quick guide that can be found here.  If you want to review the vCAD settings for uploading rendered textures, look here.

 

Congratulations, you have now rendered to texture and are able to virtually interact with your model. Please, contact vCAD if you have any questions or have run into any issues allow the process.

 

 

 

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