3Ds Max Vray Rendering Tutorial - Caustic Effects

This tutorial explains how to set up a scene with Vray caustic effects.

[Rendered without Caustic Enabled]

[Rendered with Caustic Enabled]

As you can see, the difference is very clear. With beautiful caustic effects, the whole scene becomes more vibrant and vivid with extra realism.

Steps to Set Up Caustic for the Scene (Download the scene file at the end of tutorial.)

Step 1: As you can see, the scene is really simple. It has only one Vray light and a simple plane polygon represents the table cloth and a set of tea cup.

First, you need to set up a Vray light. Go to "Create" -> "Lights" -> "VRay" -> "VRayLight". Set the "Color" to light yellow and "Multiplier" to "2.0".

[Vray Light Settings]:

Note: You need to place the Vray light at a good distance from the tea cup object. The direction of caustic photons will be casted according to the position of the Vray. You can experiment with the position to get different effects.

Step 2: Set up table cloth material as the diagram below: (the texture map is included in the scene file.)

Step 3: Set up tea cup material as the diagram below:

Under "Reflection", set "Reflect" to a dark color (R=40, G=40, B=40), the tea cup will have some reflection now. If you set this option to pure white, it means 100% reflection.

Under "Refraction", set "Refract" to white color (R=255, G=255, B=255), it means 100% refraction for tea cup. Set "IOR" (Index of Refraction) to "1.5". It is the IOR for real glass. Set "Fog color" to a light blue color (R=92, G=126, B=212). It will give the tea cup a blue color when rendered. You can experiment with this option whichever way you like. Different fog colors means different colors for the tea cup objects when rendered.

Step 4: Go to "V-Ray: Environment", turn on "GI Environment(skylight) override" and assign a "VRayHDRI" material to the "none" button. Open up the Material Editor and drag the button to a empty material ball, choose "Instance" as selection. Now you can directly control HDRI options inside Material Editor. Choose "kitchen.hdr" as the HDR image for rendering. Set "Multiplier" to "0.4". "Map type" to "Spherical environment" so MAX will unwrap the HDR image. The whole idea is to use VRay light to cast caustic to the tea cup object and use HDR image to provide overall lighting to the scene.

Step 5: Now it is time to set up VRay rendering parameters.

(1) Under "V-Ray: Image sampler(Antialiasing)", set "Image sampler" type to "Adaptive subdivision". Turn on "Antialiasing filter" and set type to "Catmull-Rom". (Note: when you are testing, you can use "Fixed" as "Image sampler" type). Expand "V-Ray: Adaptive subdivision image sampler", set "Min. rate" to "-1" and "Max. rate" to "2".

(2) Under "V-Ray: Indirect Illumination(GI)", turn on "GI caustics", select "Refractive".

(3) Under "V-Ray: Irradiance map", choose "Current preset" to "High".(Note: Select "High" will require a very long rendering time with very smooth result. If you do not have a fast machine, try "Medium" ot "Medium - animation".)

Under "Basic parameters", set "HSph. subdivs" to "15" and "Interp. samples" to "80".

Under "Options", turn on "Show calc. phase" to let VRay show all the steps when rendering so you will know at the early stage whether the rendering is going

Set the "Mode" type to "Single frame".

(4) Under "V-Ray: Caustics", turn on caustic. Set "Multiplier" to "4.0", "Search dist." to "5.0", "Max photons" to "5000". You need to adjust these values according to the set up of your lights and objects. If you are using the downloaded scene, it is ok to leave them with these values.

(5) Under "V-Ray: System", click on "Lights settings...", in the opened window, select "VRayLight01", set "Caustic subdivs" to "2000", it will give smoothed caustic result.

(6) Under "V-Ray: System", click on "Object settings...", in the opened window, set options as showed in the following diagram.

[Download Scene File:]

The scene file includes: .MAX file for 3dsmax 9.
Download Scene File [226KB].

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