# 3D Birthday Balloons in 3ds Max

05 Apr 2010

In this 3ds Max tutorial we’re going to create colorful 3d birthday balloons and render them with Mental Ray. This is a fine example of the power of 3ds Max. With just a few standard primitives and modifiers you can get believable results fast. I am using 3ds Max 2010 but this should be doable with many older versions as well.

## Step 1 The Basic Geometry for the 3D Balloon

Create a Sphere ( Create panel > Geometry > Standard Primitives > Sphere ) in the top viewport . Modify the Sphere ( Make a selection > Modify panel ) according to the following parameters :

• Segments: 100 ( you might want to increase or decrease this later depending on your needs )

## Step 2 Make the Sphere Look Like a Balloon

Add FFD 3x3x3 modifier to the sphere ( Make a selection > Modify panel > Modifier List > Object-Space Modifiers > FFD 3x3x3 ) and activate the Control Points sub-object level. Select the bottom middle control point and move it 160 units downwards like in the picture below ( it doesn’t have to be exactly 160 units ). Check both front and left views to make sure you really select the middle control point.

## Step 3 The Knot of the 3D Balloon

Next we’re going to create the balloon knot. Again, we can create it fast by using just standard primitives and a few modifiers. First create a Torus Knot ( Create panel > Geometry > Extended Primitives > Torus Knot ) in the top viewport and apply ( Make a selection > Modify panel ) the following parameters:

• Base Curve
• Segments: 120
• P: 3.0
• Q: 1.5
• Cross Section
• Sides: 12

Place the knot to the base of the balloon like in picture below.

## Step 4

Create Cone and Torus ( Create panel > Geometry > Standard Primitives ) in the top viewport. Use the modify panel ( Make a selection > Modify panel ) to modify them according to the following parameters:

• Cone
• Height: 8.5
• Height Segments: 20
• Cap Segments: 1
• Sides: 50
• Torus
• Segments: 50
• Sides: 40

Place the new objects according to picture below and combine them into a group ( Make a selection > Group > Group ).

## Step 5 Finalizing the Geometry of the Birthday Balloon

Add Noise modifier ( Make a selection > Modify panel > Modifier List > Object-Space Modifiers > Noise ) to the group you just created and apply the following parameters to it:

• Noise
• Scale: 60
• Fractal: YES
• Roughness: 0
• Iterations: 6.0
• Strength
• X: 10
• Y: 10
• Z: 4

Fix the placement of the group ( in both front and side viewports ) and your model should look like in the picture below. Combine all objects into a group ( Make a selection > Group > Group ). Now the geometry of the birthday balloon is complete.

## Step 6 Activate Mental Ray Renderer

Next we’re going to create material for the balloon and render it with Mental Ray. By default 3ds Max uses Scanline renderer so we have to change that. Change the renderer to Mental Ray ( Rendering > Render Setup… > Common tab > Assign Renderer > Production ).

## Step 7 Arch & Design Material for the Balloon

Let’s open the Material Editor ( Rendering > Material Editor… ) and create the balloon material :

1. Select the whole balloon and assign material to it
2. Material type: Arch & Design
3. Template from the drop-down list: Translucent Plastic Film, Light
4. Color: bright red (R0,9 G0,0 B0,0)
5. Transparency: 0.6
6. Glossiness: 0.6
7. Glossy Samples: 32 ( If you need higher quality glossy transparency, you can increase this. However, 32 should be enough for many purposes. )

## Step 8 First Test Render in 3ds Max

Change the background color to white ( Rendering > Environment… > Common Parameters > Background > Color ) and make the first test render. The render should look like picture below. It’s nothing special, but stay tuned. We’ll make it shine really soon!

## Step 9 Window Reflections

Next we’re going to create more interesting reflections. Let’s create geometry and material for window reflections. Create four huge boxes in the top viewport with the following parameters.

• Length: 2700
• Width: 2800
• Height: 1

Combine the boxes into a group named ‘Window reflections’ ( Make a selection > Group > Group ). Assign a new standard material to the group and make the following adjustments to the material:

• Color: pure white
• Specular Level: 999

Your boxes should look like in picture below:

## Step 10 The Illumination

Create Skylight ( Create panel > Lights > Standard > Skylight ) with the following parameters:

• Sky Color: pure white

When you work with Skylight you have to turn Final Gather on. In 3ds Max 2010 Final Gather is on by default but in older versions you have to turn it on ( Rendering > Render Setup… > Indirect Illumination > Final Gather > Enable Final Gather ).

Create Omni light ( Create panel > Lights > Standard > Omni ). Adjust the Omni light so that it affects only the Window reflections:

1. Click ‘Exclude…’ button
2. Select ‘Include’ in the top of the new dialog
3. Select ‘Window reflections’ from the list
4. Click the right arrow in the middle of the dialog
5. Click ‘OK’

The include parameter makes the Omni light affect only the Window reflections. This way you can adjust the intensity of the reflections by adjusting the Multiplier of the Omni light.

Rotate Window reflections 45 degrees and place the objects according to picture below.

## Step 11 Rendering a Test Image

Render a test image to see if it looks like picture below. If the reflection appears in the wrong location, just move the Window reflections group.

## Step 12 Finalize the 3D Balloon

If you look closely you might see minor aliasing problems in the edges. To fix this, just increase antialiasing quality by increasing sampling values ( Rendering > Render setup… > Renderer > Sampling Quality ):

• Samples per pixel:
• Minimum: 1
• Maximum: 16

Render the image again and that’s it for a single 3d balloon. Just make some color correction in Photoshop.

• Saturation +15
• Brightness -20
• Contrast +40

## Step 13 Multiple 3D Balloons

Our transparent and reflective material really shines when multiple balloons are rendered so let’s try that. Make several copies of the balloon material by drag and drop. Just change the name and color of the new materials. Next make many instance copies ( move while pressing shift in keyboard ) of the balloon , apply materials, and move them around. I have 92 balloons in my final scene.

## Step 14 Rendering 92 Birthday Balloons

Render the final image. The rendering might take some time because of the reflections, blurry transparency, and antialiasing. I bumped up the quality settings and made a very high resolution ( 6000 x 4500 px ) render for a stock agency and it took about a week to render it ; )

## Step 15 Making the Image Pop !

Do some color correction in Photoshop to make your image pop!

• Brightness +50
• Contrast +40

( your final image and color correction needs might be different )

I hope you enjoyed this! I’d love to hear how this tutorial is working for you!

## 83 Responses to “3D Birthday Balloons in 3ds Max”

1. Khoo says:

I have problem doing colour correction in Photoshop. I read from another site to render and save files as .tga. did that but can’t import it back into the scene. I followed and got everything else except the colour correction bits…appreciate if you can add instruction for that. Step 12 and Step 15. I’ve book marked your site and will come back to work on all the projects.

• polygonblog says:

Save the rendered image as PNG file (TGA works as well), open it in Photoshop, and do the color correction there. In this tutorial your are not supposed to import the image back to the scene. Color correction is just the last thing you do to the rendered image. You can of course adjust colors also in 3ds Max but it’s just much easier in Photoshop.

2. Hagane says:

you’re the best

3. mona says:

thanks alot i love your tutorials.this is really good

4. Maria Tereza says:

Hi I love your tutorials, I just create the monster! But I can not find the template “Translucent Plastic Film, L”. Could you help me?

5. Maria Tereza says:

I’d like to show you how it was without using the template:

• polygonblog says:

In the material settings, go to the ‘Advanced Rendering Options’ rollout and turn ‘Thin Walled (can use single faces)’ on.

Hi.I love this tutorial.Awesome.thx

7. iKlsR says:

super cool… i did this in blender just a while ago… i’ll soon show you my render on twitter @iKlsR

8. Pitter says:

hi! It’s very intersting.

Go Man…

9. kuben says:

very professional expressional still you have… thanks for your simple but detailed presentation. kuben from turkey

10. kylo says:

Very good quick tutorial, short snappy and to the point with all of the essentials. If any one has done this and can help with this it would be appreciated, if I am using linear workflow with a Gamma correction of 2.2 – Colour & Materials selected and input and output Gamma to 2.2 how would I compensate for the washed out colour appearence in 3ds Max.

I can do it in post production in P-Shop and have attempted to do it by adjusting the exposure settings in Max but am trying to get my head round linear workflows so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

11. Ananya says:

superb and very helpful.keep doing like this…

very nice tutorial,

but in the omni Exclude, i think u meant to exclude the balloon not the 4 boxes..

thank you

• polygonblog says:

Actually I change the Exclude to Include first. But you could do it just like you said. Clearly you understand how to use this feature.

13. Kritika says:

awesum MAN..sumthng really diffrent..!!

14. Thomas says:

Awesome =D

15. Kevin Taylor says:

Love you’re tut’z man… Great work… Just keep doin’ you’re thing…

16. hi !!!!
tis is very nice.
thanks.

its superb
thanks
i love it
its looking as if a real balloon
do post more tutorials

18. Jaishree says:

Gr8 tutorial!!!
It seems as if its a real balloon.
Kindly post in more tutorials pllllllzzzzzzz…

19. el.toro82 says:

wow, its amazing. just need it for my nephew birthday pic.
U give me inspiration to make it with my own hand than download it. i wonder how it be….
anyway, thanks for great tutorial that u make me really jealous with your ability. keep working, and i can’t wait for next tut.
regards from me…

20. Ganesh Srivastav says:

Sir,

This was a thing i was trying to do from a long time.

Thank u and u r the best person i have seen sharing knowledge

Did u work for any films.

21. Gintas says:

Help!
Something wrong :S. The window doesn’t reflect. Why!?
Here is screenshots…

and

http://www.part.lt/img/9f4a4cb1c0a75b3c3d832f7062b3a5ef883.jpg

Btw, great tutorial .

22. Bob says:

One word: FANTASTIC!

Thanks a lot for this tutorial!!!

23. Yamen says:

Daaamm … I lost the “Reference” ballon in the scene !!!lol ;P I made like 200 balloons ! lmao just kiddin..

24. Masashiro says:

Simply beautiful!!!

25. Yoza says:

Excellent tutorial, nice results, excellent instuctions. does exactly what it says on the tin. A1.

26. sarath says:

THANK U sooooooooooooooooooooooooo much dear friend

27. cyri2lu says:

Just an amazing tutorial, THX a lot !!

28. Calvin says:

Very good tutorial, I really enjoyed following it and learning from it.

29. Nio says:

Very good lighting, thanks for the useful lesson