An Underwater Scene
A 3D Studio
start creating our underwater scene. The first thing is the
bottom. The easiest way of creating it is nurbs surface with
noise modifier or displacement map, but it is not the matter
of this tutorial. First thing to do when you have the bottom
is setting up the main light. Good choice here is directional
light with large radius. Use white color for this light. As
you know light refracts on water surface. Unfortunatelly MAX
(and other programs) can't simulate this effect even using raytracing.
So we have to fake this effect using projector map for the light.
MAX 2 has procedural Water texture and we will use it. MAX 1
users can play with noise texture and achieve similar effect.
Sample settings for the water projector map are below:
on scale of your scene you will have to adjust Wave Len Max
and Min settings. When the map is ready you can just drag&drop
it from material editor to Projector map button in light's properties.
When you have the projector applied your test render should
be similar to the one below (the bottom on that picture has
only white diffuse color, no texture, and the blue waves are
caused by light and projector):
blue background color you set up in Rendering/Environment. Use
color with RGB values about 0, 96, 102. Use darker color for
deeper water effect.
Water is not 100% transparent, even very clear water. Objects
that are far are less visible than those close to the camera.
The best way of simulating this effect is using Fog. You can
add fog in Environment menu. Below you can see settings for
important settings are Fog color (use blue similar to background
color) and Near% and Far% values. These two parameters define
how dense your fog is in near range and far range of your camera.
This is a good moment to set these values for camera too.
When camera is close to water surface you often can see light
beams in water. You can simulate this effect in MAX using volumetric
lights. First you have to add new light to your scene, with
much smaller radius than the main light. Here also we will use
projector map but this time it won't be water waves. We need
black and white irregular dots - such projector map will produce
many light beams from single spot light. Below you can see (condensed)
settings of noise texture that will be used for this projector:
on your scene's scale you will have to adjust noise Size. RGB
Level increased to 4 produce more
contrast, brighter spots. Now apply this map as projector. When
the light is ready go to Environment again and add Volume Light
effect. Use setting similar to these below:
all projectors, fog and volume lights your test rendering should
look like this one:
add a little more realism to your scene you can make some bubbles
or alga floating in the water using simple particle system.
Snow emitter is enough for this, use very slow particle speed
(important if you want to animate your scene) and facing particles.
Suitable Particle Size you have to find yourself. Material for
particles: Standard, white (or bright blue), 100% self illumination,
and circular gradient for opacity map. This will produce fast
and nice effect of bubbles in the water.
Underwater scene makes no sense when there are no object in
the water. With only one light from top your objects will be
too dark, so you can add some fill light from one or two sides.
You can exclude the bottom from this light if it is too bright.
Also, if you want your main top light to cast shadows, they
may be too dark (almost black) - shadows in water are never
completely black. Solution is very easy: just clone your main
top light and decrease multiplier to 1/2 for both lights. Now
turn Cast Shadows on for only one light. Remember that for lights
with large radius you will probably have to increase Shadow
Map Size and Sample Range.
Your scene is ready :)
more detailed rendering of this scene you can see in my picture
MAX 2 scene ~44 KB