Chapter 2: The "Look" of Water
Arguably, the most important aspect of creating convincing water is the material. Given how quickly and chaotically water can move, slightly unorthodox movement or volume can be overlooked, but the most perfectly flowing body of water will not read as water without the appropriate look.
Go to the Camera02 viewport at frame 35.
If you render a still, you will see that the default material looks more like gooey plastic than water.
Figure 2.1 Even with a nice shape, the water does not look convincing without an appropriate material.
Open the Material Editor and select an unused material. Name this material Water. Set the following values:
Diffuse Color: R 110, G 130, B 140 Opacity: 75 Specular Highlights Specular Level: 20 Glossiness: 60
This shiny, subtly transparent material will be expanded with maps to look more like water.
Figure 2.2 Create a shiny blue-green material as the basis for the water material.
Under Extended Parameters, set the following values:
Advanced Transparency Falloff: Out Index of Refraction: 1.3 Reflection Dimming Apply: On Dim Level: 0.25
The Advanced Transparency values determine that the material will become more transparent toward the outside of the object. Reflection Dimming serves to diminish the impact of reflection maps in shadowed areas of the object.
Go to the Diffuse Color channel and apply a Noise material. Under Noise Parameters, set the following values:
Noise Type: Fractal Size: 5 Noise Threshold High: 0.85 Low: 0.25 Color #1: R 95, G 165, B 140 Color #2: R 115, G 140, B 160
It's a good idea to give each map/material a unique and significant name to facilitate moving through the material hierarchy. This is particularly useful for complex materials.
Figure 2.3 This Noise map will serve as the main coloring for the water material.
Go up to the root Water material and set the Diffuse Color to 75%.
This enables you to mix the Diffuse color set in step 2 with the Diffuse color channel.
Figure 2.4 Mix the Diffuse color with the Diffuse channel by reducing the Diffuse color amount from 100%.
Set the Reflection channel's amount to 35%. Apply a Reflect/Refract material to the Reflection channel.
You will use this material to apply reflection mapping to the water based on the surrounding scene objects. When applying automatic reflection mapping, the object's pivot point is used to generate the maps. Because the pivot point of the SuperSpray_Stream particle system is within the faucet and not in a good position to generate Reflection maps, you will create a set of bitmaps based on a temporary object.
Set the Reflect/Refract map's Source to From File. Go to the Top viewport and create a Sphere at X = 300, Y = 0, Z = 200. Set Radius to 20.
Under the Render Cubic Map Files section of the Reflect/Refract map, click the To File button. Enter Water in the File Name box, set Save as Type to BMP, and accept RGB 24bit as the BMP Configuration.
Figure 2.5 The temporary sphere used to create Reflection maps for the water material.
Using 24-bit files, as opposed to 8-bit, preserves more color depth information and results in a richer image.
Hide the following objects: SuperSpray_Stream, SuperSpray_Splash, and Sphere_Boolean.
This will prevent unwanted objects from showing up in the reflection maps.
Click the Pick Object and Render Maps button and choose the sphere you created in step 8 to render six orthogonal views from the point of view of the temporary object.
3ds max 4 should now render six 100x100 bitmaps and assign them to the Up, Down, Left, Right, Front, and Back slots. Because this set is not a complete room and consists of only two walls and a floor, several of these maps will be flat black. You can change the slot assignments so that all slots have some texture to them.
Figure 2.6 The six orthogonal views that are automatically rendered using the Render Cubic Maps function.
Click the Up slot and choose water_DN.bmp. Click the Right slot and choose water_LF.bmp. Click the Front slot and choose water_BK.bmp. Delete the sphere.
Unhide SuperSpray_Stream, SuperSpray_Splash, and Sphere_Water. Assign the Water material to the SuperSpray_Stream particle system.
Figure 2.7 The finished material as seen in a magnified Material Editor window.
Go to the Camera02 viewport, still at frame 35. If you render another still, you will see that the water looks quite a bit more realistic.
Assign this material to the SuperSpray_Splash particle system as well.
Figure 2.8 The final material, applied to the water stream, shown at frame 35.