In this beginner’s tutorial we’re going to create a bokeh effect in 3ds Max. The term bokeh is familiar from photography. When depth of field is shallow, part of the photo is blurred. Bokeh refers to that blur or the quality of it. There are a few different methods of creating shallow depth of field in 3ds Max, but this time we concentrate on the ‘Depth of Field / Bokeh’ camera shader which is a new feature in 3ds Max 2011. The Bokeh shader gives us nice tools to control the quality and the look of the out of focus areas.
We’re going to render the bokeh effect with Mental Ray. By default 3ds Max uses the Scanline renderer so we have to change that. Change the renderer to Mental Ray ().
We’re going to create a simple 3d scene and finally add the bokeh effect to it. If you are just interested about the bokeh effect itself, go ahead and skip to step 13.
We’re going to create a simple scene with some text in it but first we create a background. Create a Plane () in the front viewport . Modify the Plane ( ) according to the following parameters:
Open Material Editor () and create the material for the plane:
Create a Text shape () in the front viewport . Modify the text ( ) according to the following parameters:
Feel free to select different font or write something different. I chose Century Gothic because those round shapes are good at catching highlights.
At this point the text is just a shape and can’t even be seen in renderings. Let’s turn it to a 3d surface. Add Bevel modifier to the text (). Apply the following parameters ( ) to the Bevel modifier:
Open Material Editor () and create the material for the text:
Let’s prepare the scene for rendering:
Now is a good time to render the scene for the first time so hit render () and you should see something like the picture below.
This is our first render so obviously there are some problems:
Let’s adjust the sampling settings to get a more polished render. Go to the render setup and increase antialiasing quality by increasing Mental Ray’s sampling values ():
Now the aliasing issues are fixed and it’s time to illuminate the text. By the way, if rendering time is an issue you could use the default sampling values for now and use these high quality settings only in the final rendering.
Create Mental Ray area omni () in the front viewport and apply the following parameters to it ( ):
Place the omni light according to the picture below.
When you render the scene you should get something like the picture below. Move the light if necessary.
The illumination is improved but the text is too dark and therefore merges with the background. Let’s address these issues with soft shadows and glare. Modify the omni light () to get softer shadows:
Apply Glare Camera Shader () Just turn the output shader on, the glare shader should be selected by default. Open Material Editor ( ) and drag and drop the Glare shader from Camera Shaders to an empty material slot in Material Editor ( make sure to select ‘instance’ when asked ). Make the following adjustments to the Glare shader:
Render the scene the see the effect of these changes. Now shadows are softer and the text is brighter and has a nice glow.
At the moment our scene is really flat so there is no point in adding a bokeh effect just yet. First we’ll create something that will be out of focus in the final rendering. Let’s add some sparkles to the scene. Create a super spray () in the top viewport and apply ( ) the following parameters to it:
Next we’re going to create a spline and force the particles to travel along it. Create the spline:
Create a path follow object (), go to the modify panel, and apply the following parameters to it:
Bind the super spray to the path follow object:
Particles should immediately follow the path like in the picture below.
Tip. If you’d like the particles to stray away from the spline, try increasing the particle speed in super spray and/or adjusting Particle Motion settings in the path follow object.
Open Material Editor () and create the material for the sparkles:
Render the scene the see the particles. The glow is really strong but wait till you see it with the Bokeh effect.
Apply ‘Depth of Field / Bokeh’ Camera Shader (). Open Material Editor ( ) and drag and drop the bokeh shader from Camera Shaders to an empty material slot in Material Editor ( make sure to select ‘instance’ when asked ). Make the following adjustments to the Bokeh shader:
Now we’re ready to render the final image with the bokeh effect. I made some adjustments in Photoshop as well:
Let’s continue in the discussion. Patience with the rendering!
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