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Product Visualization in 3ds Max and Arnold

July 23, 2021

Learn the workflow and techniques for rendering photorealistic product shots in 3ds Max and Arnold.

In this two-hour video series, we see why 3ds Max excels in the field of product visualization: great support for CAD formats, an intuitive interface, and the power and flexibility of the Arnold renderer. This intermediate-level series covers the entire product viz workflow, starting with importing CAD files and scene layout. To develop the “look” of materials, we apply physically-based shaders and build complex networks for layering and texture mapping. Dramatic studio lighting heightens visual interest. Arnold’s comprehensive rendering features facilitate special effects such as excluding lights from objects and controlling light contribution to shading components. The result is a high-contrast studio rendering suitable for marketing and advertising.

Topics include:

Importing a CAD model
Scene layout
Framing with a Physical Camera
Arnold render settings
Skydome HDRI environment lighting
Physically-based materials with Arnold Standard Surface
3D Bump mapping with Arnold Noise
Filleted edges with Arnold Round Corners map
Projecting a UVW Map
Rendering a UVW template
Compositing materials with Layer Shader
Layering maps with OSL Composite
Theatrical key lighting with Arnold Spot
Rim lighting with Light Groups
Controlling light Contribution


Maya: Camera Techniques

July 13, 2021

Learn expert techniques to control and animate Maya cameras and give viewers a window into your 3D world.

Maya's camera tools are among the best available in any 3D package. In this course, author Aaron F. Ross shares expert techniques in Maya camera layout and animation. Starting with the basics of creating and manipulating cameras, the course progresses to aesthetic concerns of visual composition. You'll learn the major forms and conventions of cinematic camera framing and movement. The course covers all types of camera animation, using keyframes, motion trails, scripted expressions, and constraints. A chapter on special effects delves into extended techniques such as isometric views, texture projection, and lens effects. The course concludes with an exploration of the Maya Camera Sequencer, a nonlinear editing system for pre-visualization of cinematic scenes with multiple cameras.

Topics include:

Controlling viewport cameras
Setting camera attributes
Choosing viewport display options
Adjusting focal length and field of view
Assuring predictable camera animation
Animating simple camera moves
Mastering compound camera animation
Understanding the Film Back
Setting up isometric and lens shift effects
Projecting a texture from a camera
Rendering depth of field and rack focus
Pre-viz editing with the Camera Sequencer


3ds Max 2022 Quick Start

May 18, 2021

Get up to speed quickly in 3ds Max 2022. Learn the program interface and core techniques in modeling, materials, lighting, animation, and rendering.

3ds Max is a leading all-purpose application for 3D content creation. This short introductory course covers the basics of the 3ds Max interface and core concepts. You'll learn how to get around in the program and start modeling, shading, lighting, animating, and rendering. Whether you're new to 3D or simply new to 3ds Max, this course provides a firm foundation in a short amount of time.

Topics include:

Getting familiar with the interface
Creating and transforming objects
Modeling with the Modifier Stack
Spline-based modeling
Applying physically-based materials
Projecting UVW map coordinates
Illuminating the scene with photometric lights
Creating a camera and framing a shot
Keyframe animation
Rendering an image sequence


3ds Max 2022 Essential Training

March 24, 2021

Learn what you need to know to use 3ds Max 2022 to create professional 3D models, animations, and motion graphics.

3ds Max is best known for its modeling and rendering tools. These strengths come into play in architecture, manufacturing, game development, industrial design, and motion graphics. There are dozens of features and techniques to master, from modeling and texturing to lighting and rendering. This course covers 3ds Max from the ground up, providing an overview of the entire package as well as essential skills that 3D artists need to create professional models and animations.

Learn how to get around the 3ds Max interface and customize it to suit your preferences. Discover how to model different objects using splines, polygons, and subdivision surfaces. Then, learn to construct hierarchies, add cameras and lights, and animate with keyframes. Author Aaron F. Ross also takes an in-depth look at materials and texture mapping, as well as options for rendering engines such as Arnold and Quicksilver.

Topics include:

Customizing the interface
Selecting, duplicating, and editing objects
Modeling with splines
Parametric modeling with the Modifier Stack
Polygon and subdivision surface modeling
Framing shots with cameras
Lighting with photometrics and daylight
Building materials
Mapping textures
Linking objects in hierarchies
Creating and editing keyframes
Rendering an image sequence


Maya: Natural Environments

February 12, 2021

Learn to build natural exterior scenes in this course, Maya: Natural Environments.

Representing the natural world in a 3D program can be a daunting task. Autodesk Maya comes to the rescue with an incredible array of tools for world-building. In this course, you'll learn to command Maya's powers to model, sculpt, and shade scenes of nature. Terrains can imported as heightmaps, generated with procedural texture patterns, sculpted by hand, or art directed with any combination of those methods. With tools such as Xgen and Paint Effects, we can easily populate a scene with plants and other objects. The layout requirements for exteriors often include special visual effects such as image planes and camera constraints. Volumetric clouds and atmospheric perspective complete the illusion of reality for a photorealistic natural setting. We'll even touch on realtime workflows, rendering a cubic environment map in Maya and loading it into Unity. Get ready to tame the wilderness and design realistic exterior settings in Maya.

Learning objectives:

Layout for 360 and camera-centric scenes
Applying appropriate scale, grid, and camera settings
Building backdrop spheres, planes, and cubic environments
Creating a landscape with a heightmap
Generating a terrain with procedural textures
Painting and sculpting polygon geometry
Generating entourage objects with Paint Effects
Instancing massive numbers of primitives with Xgen
Scripting Xgen attributes with the SEexpr language
Painting Xgen attributes
Developing materials for Paint Effects and Xgen
Generating clouds with a 3D Fluid
Rendering haze with Arnold Standard Volume


Maya: Shader Networks

September 8, 2020

Learn to create complex materials in this course, Maya: Shader Networks.

Autodesk Maya is one of the most popular 3D packages available, and it particularly excels in the area of complex materials. In this course, you'll learn to harness the power of Maya to design more interesting shader networks. By combining and manipulating maps, materials, and UVs, we can construct an infinite variety of shader trees. Whether the goal is photorealism or a stylized render effect, Maya has all of the tools you need to create impressive and unique materials. The course concludes with a chapter on interoperability, so you can export your Maya work to other applications such as game engines.

Learning objectives:

Essential Hypershade techniques
Building Adobe Substance networks
Color correction
Remapping color palettes
Layering textures and shaders
Working with UV Sets
Interactive 3D Paint
Incorporating scene data in a shading network
Using the Node Editor for materials
Camera mapping with the Projection node
Building a non-photoreal material
Converting Maya procedural maps to bitmap files
Baking Arnold maps with Render to Texture


Maya: Advanced Materials

June 29, 2020

Maya is an industry leader in 3D materials and shaders. Learn to create convincing physically-based materials in this course, Maya: Advanced Materials.

Maya's nearly limitless tools for materials and shading enable artists to visualize almost anything. In this course, author Aaron F. Ross helps you take material look development to the next level. Accelerate your workflow with tips and tricks on Maya's Hypershade graph and browser. Learn to design a wide range of convincing materials with the new Standard Surface shader. Apply textures to key shading attributes, render transparency and translucency, and add surface detail with bump, normal, and displacement maps.

Learning objectives:

Optimizing Hypershade performance
Accelerating artist workflow in Hypershade
Physically-based rendering with Standard Surface
Roughness and glossiness
Reflective and metallic surfaces
Mapping shader attributes
Translucency with Subsurface Scattering
Transparency with Transmission
Rendering thin-walled and cutout geometry
Simple height relief with Bump mapping
Advanced vector relief with Normal mapping
Projecting normals to simulate level of detail
Deforming a shape with Displacement


Learning 3ds Max 2021

June 1, 2020

Learn to leverage the power of 3ds Max for modeling, rendering, and animation. This introductory training course covers foundations of the 3ds Max interface, concepts, and techniques.

Known for its versatility and ease of use, 3ds Max is a leading digital content creation package. Whether you're visualizing computer aided designs, building game assets, or animating motion pictures, 3ds Max has the power and flexibility to meet the creative needs of your production. Learn to leverage the strengths of 3ds Max in modeling, animation, and rendering in this introductory training course. Author Aaron F. Ross leads you through the basics of the interface, core concepts, and techniques. After completing this course, you'll have a firm foundation upon which to build further skills in 3ds Max.

Learning objectives:

Application workspace and preferences
Navigating in viewports
Modeling with primitives and modifiers
Editable Poly modeling tools
Lighting with photometrics and daylight
Shading surfaces with materials
Mapping textures
Scene organization with Layers and Groups
Linking objects in hierarchies
Creating keyframes
Editing animation function curves
Rendering an image sequence


3ds Max 2021 Essential Training

March 25, 2020

Learn what you need to know to use 3ds Max 2021 to create professional 3D models, animations, and motion graphics.

3ds Max is best known for its modeling and rendering tools. These strengths come into play in architecture, manufacturing, game development, industrial design, and motion graphics. There are dozens of features and techniques to master, from modeling and texturing to lighting and rendering. This course covers 3ds Max from the ground up, providing an overview of the entire package as well as essential skills that 3D artists need to create professional models and animations.

Learn how to get around the 3ds Max interface and customize it to suit your preferences. Discover how to model different objects using splines, polygons, and subdivision surfaces. Then, learn to construct hierarchies, add cameras and lights, and animate with keyframes. Author Aaron F. Ross also takes an in-depth look at materials and texture mapping, as well as options for rendering engines such as Arnold and Quicksilver.

Topics include:

Customizing the interface
Selecting, duplicating, and editing objects
Modeling with splines
Parametric modeling with the Modifier Stack
Polygon and subdivision surface modeling
Framing shots with cameras
Lighting with photometrics and daylight
Building materials
Mapping textures
Linking objects in hierarchies
Creating and editing keyframes
Rendering an image sequence


Maya: Bifrost Extension

March 10, 2020

Learn how to create procedural content tools in the Bifrost Graph

Explore the Bifrost graph, a powerful new procedural content creation framework from Autodesk. Instructor Aaron Ross covers the Bifrost Extension, a free Maya plugin for creating tools to accelerate almost every aspect of 3D production. Using the Bifrost visual programming environment, artists and technical directors in all 3D disciplines can automate complex processes and generate assets without writing a single line of code.

Learning objectives:

Core concepts of proceduralism
How Bifrost integrates with Maya
Navigating the Bifrost Graph
Loading example graphs from the Bifrost Browser
Simulating atmospheres and combustion with the Aero solver
Building a graph from scratch
Deforming polygon geometry
Using Bifrost in production
Assigning materials
Converting a Bifrost shape to a Maya shape
Caching a simulation to disk
Rendering an atmosphere in Arnold


Maya: Rendering with Arnold 6

December 18, 2019

Learn how to shade, light, and render with the Arnold renderer in Maya

Arnold is the high-quality rendering engine in Maya. Realistic rendering is easier than ever with this brute force Monte Carlo ray tracer. Arnold’s physically-based rendering accurately simulates light in the real world, but allows breaking physical laws to achieve artistic styles. This course is an overview of Arnold’s core features for lighting, materials, and rendering in Maya using Arnold core version 6.

Learning objectives:

Arnold rendering concepts
Lighting with Maya and Arnold lights
Controlling exposure
Light attenuation with Decay
Image-based lighting with Skydome
Daylight simulation with Physical Sky
Arnold Standard Surface material attributes
Mapping material attributes
Rendering refractions with Transmission
Mesh Subdivision and Displacement at render time
Shading effects such as Ambient Occlusion and Vertex Color
Camera effects such as Fisheye and Depth of Field
Animation image sequence rendering


3ds Max: Rendering with Arnold (2020)

November 15, 2019

Learn how to shade, light, and render with the Arnold renderer in 3ds Max

Arnold is the high-quality rendering engine in 3ds Max. Realistic rendering is easier than ever with this brute force Monte Carlo ray tracer. Arnold’s physically-based rendering accurately simulates light in the real world, but allows breaking physical laws to achieve artistic styles. This course is an overview of Arnold’s core features for lighting, materials, and rendering in 3ds Max.

Learning objectives:

Arnold rendering concepts
Controlling Sample Quality and Ray Depth
Rendering on an NVIDIA GPU
Arnold lights such as Quad, Spot, and Distant
Modifying Arnold object properties
Image-based lighting
Daylight simulation with Physical Sky
Arnold Standard Surface material parameters
Diffuse, opacity, and bump mapping
Rendering refractions with Transmission
Building an Arnold shading network
Test rendering with Utility Map
Mesh Subdivision and Displacement at render time
Rendering a spherical environment


Maya Product Visualization

September 23, 2019

Learn to render professional quality product shots in Maya

3D visualization is a crucial aspect of 21st century product design, manufacturing, and marketing. Autodesk Maya is an ideal tool for bringing product designs to the screen and print media. The deep and powerful feature set of Maya provides almost limitless potential for effective and imaginative product visualization. This course illustrates a standard workflow for product viz, from importing a CAD model to rendering photorealistic imagery. We'll leverage the advanced tools of Maya and the Arnold renderer to bring product designs to life in the production phases of scene layout, materials, lighting, and rendering. Then we'll employ Adobe After Effects to composite and adjust render passes, giving us the ability to art-direct lighting without needing to re-render in 3D. The combination of Maya and After Effects empowers artists and designers to render product visualizations with greater efficiency, flexibility, and creativity than ever before.

Learning objectives:

Importing a CAD model
Laying out the scene
Framing a camera shot
Physically-based materials
UV projection and file textures
Layering materials
Image-based lighting with an environment map
Flood lighting with Area lights
Studio lighting with Spot and Point lights
Light decay and exclusion
AOV component render passes
Optimizing Arnold render settings
Layering render components in After Effects
Rendering a technical illustration


3ds Max Product Visualization

August 20, 2019

Learn to render professional quality product shots in 3ds Max

3D visualization is a crucial aspect of 21st century product design, manufacturing, and marketing. Autodesk 3ds Max is an ideal tool for bringing product designs to the screen and print media. The deep and powerful feature set of 3ds Max provides almost limitless potential for effective and imaginative product visualization. This course illustrates a standard workflow for product viz, from importing a CAD model to rendering photorealistic imagery. We'll leverage the advanced tools of 3ds Max and the Arnold renderer to bring product designs to life in the production phases of scene layout, materials, lighting, and rendering. Then we'll employ Adobe After Effects to composite and adjust render passes, giving us the ability to art-direct lighting without needing to re-render in 3D. The combination of 3ds Max and After Effects empowers artists and designers to render product visualizations with greater efficiency, flexibility, and creativity than ever before.

Learning objectives:

Importing a CAD model
Laying out the scene
Saving and loading Xrefs
Camera framing and exposure
Physically-based materials
Procedural textures
Image-based lighting with an environment map
Flood lighting with Area lights
Studio lighting with Spot and Point lights
Light decay and exclusion
AOV component render passes
Optimizing Arnold render settings
Layering render components in After Effects
Rendering a technical illustration


3ds Max: Tips, Tricks, and Techniques weekly series

June 19, 2017

3ds Max is a powerful, deep, and multifaceted program, so there's always more to learn. This weekly series aims to keep you on top of the latest tools and techniques, and introduces fresh perspectives on traditional methods for architectural and product visualization, animation, visual effects, games and virtual worlds, and motion graphics.

Instructor Aaron F. Ross presents a new topic every week, spanning the full range of 3D graphics tasks, including modeling, rigging and animation, shading and lighting, camera operation, and rendering. He gives special attention to streamlining workflows, such as automation of time-consuming tasks, so your productions run more smoothly and efficiently. Come back every Wednesday for a new tutorial to expand your 3ds Max knowledge and skills.


3ds Max 2019: Advanced Lighting

December 18, 2018

Learn advanced lighting techniques for 3ds Max 2019 and Arnold 5

Realistic lighting is easier, faster, and better than ever in 3ds Max. Photometric lighting and a choice of rendering options gives you the power to create a convincing illusion. This course focuses on architectural visualization, but the techniques apply to other domains such as motion picture production. Author Aaron F. Ross provides a conceptual overview of advanced lighting and rendering, then demonstrates how to construct various lighting scenarios in 3ds Max. You'll see how to render scenes with exterior and interior daylight, practical artificial lighting, and manufacturer photometric data. The course includes a chapter on special effects such as light decay and atmospheres. By the end of the course, you’ll have seen how to control the powerful lighting tools in 3ds Max to achieve photorealistic results.

Topics include:

Physical lighting and gamma correction
High dynamic range and exposure control
Global illumination
Exterior daylight
Image-based lighting
Advanced environment options
Geometric backdrops and material emission
Interior daylight
Importing photometric data
Studio lighting
Spot light image projection
Atmospheric effects


3ds Max 2019: Advanced Materials

December 18, 2018

Learn advanced material techniques for 3ds Max 2019

Physically-based rendering (PBR) simulates the way light works in the real world. It achieves greater realism with less effort than traditional 3D rendering. This course is updated for 3ds Max 2019, and focuses on PBR shading techniques. The Physical Material simulates surfaces such as stone, glass, and metal. Author Aaron F. Ross also looks at building shading networks, and combining and adjusting maps in interesting ways. Procedural maps such as Substance deserve special attention, and you'll also see how to bake them out to bitmap files for cross-application and renderer compatibility. By the end of the course, you'll have a firm foundation in advanced shading workflows in 3ds Max.

Topics include:

Streamlining material editor workflow
Managing assets
Referencing materials with Xrefs
Rendering the Physical Material
Controlling highlights with Roughness
Directing reflections and refractions
Simulating translucency and scattering
Building a shading network
Combining and color correcting maps
Baking maps with Render to Texture
Procedural mapping
Using relief maps: bump, normal, and displacement


Product and Architectural Visualization Techniques

April 24, 2018

Learn the essential techniques to present computer aided designs in print, video, and the web.

CAD has revolutionized the design process, and computer graphics empowers designers and artists to visualize their work in ways never before possible. Design visualization applies to many different fields, including architecture and interior design, manufacturing, engineering, science, media, and entertainment. In this course, you'll learn the core concepts and methods for presenting computer aided designs in their best light. We'll take an overview of aesthetic and technical best practices for visualizing 3D designs in print, video, and the web. The course covers general techniques of computer graphic imaging relevant to design visualization, including lighting, virtual photography, image manipulation, and animation. You'll see how to present 3D models effectively and with aesthetic appeal, helping your designs stand out in presentations, reviews, marketing or advertising materials.

Topics include:

Choosing a visualization app
Managing assets
Shading with materials and textures
Daylighting, practical lighting, and studio lighting
Lightbox and macro photography
Vehicles and large scale objects
Architecture and interior design
Technical illustrations
Rendering passes and light groups
Rendering for print, prepress and broadcast
Animating turntables and orbits
Rigging and animating a walkthrough


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