Modeling a Japanese Lamp

Modeling a Japanese Lamp
Difficulty: Easy
Description: A tutorial describing the creation of a japanese-style lamp.
Author: Dante; Date Added: 2009-10-03; Views: 24789
Because let's face it - Japanese means awesome, far as style goes. And if you disagree, I'm going to eat your liver, and that's that. Anyway, at some point, I'm sure you've all felt that modeling, besides the means to express yourself, as an artist (and as there's so many different kinds of artists, in the first place) it could also be used to make things for yourself and your friends. But what if that doesn't please you? What if you're also going for "less is more"? Or perhaps you're just lacking ideas and perusing tutorials - as let's face it, we all do sometimes. Enough hogwash. And yes, it's simple enough that ANYONE with even half a functioning right brain can do this for themselves, having just picked up the program.

Things to keep in mind
- Keep it simple, stupid; that's pretty much where it should all come from
- Less is more, sometimes, but not always; don't use that as an excuse to be a mediocre wretch
- Read through well, I've had a bunch of trouble learning some of the intricacies of modelling even with a book of 3DS MAX open in front of my face;

Things you need
- A bit of patience, perhaps a mug of coffee
- 3DS MAX (8 or 9 is fine) with VRay
- The following reference image:

Simpler than this... it could get, but then what's the point? Bare minimum, but not below that. There will be steps, with thumbnails, to keep unwanted downloading and page stretching to a minimum.

Step 1

To prevent any outside interference, or unneeded materials or stray settings, go to File -> New, then hit File -> Reset. Everything should be as when 3DS MAX loads, pretty much with the 4 viewports (unless perhaps you enjoy working in another viewport configuration, in which case, disregard this note). Save the reference image, just in case you haven't already, you're gonna need it for... reference! Amazing!

IF YOU ARE ENCOUNTERING DIFFICULTIES WITH THIS STEP (yikes, did I ever have problems learning Max, way back when) ALLOW ME TO PRESENT SOME FURTHER READING: - If you can spare the time, that is a video tutorial, complete with audio - it details the workings of workspace setup, with a little more detail than there. But as a general rule, I like to keep all my tutorials detailed.

Step 2

Since the picture isn't particularly useful for old-school reference modeling (i.e. a front reference, side reference, and top reference), we're merely going to create a plane for it to be on, in the front viewport, to aid in roughly sizing the height and width of the lamp. (I prefer to model roughly based on reference, no matter what kind is provided, because I'm terrible with proportions!)

Hit Alt + W with the Perspective viewport selected to maximize it, S to turn on the Snaps Toggle, and make a plane roughly rectangular so when we apply the picture, it won't be skewn like shite.

Now move the pivot at the very base of the plane, so you don't get a headache trying to rotate it properly, and into place (i.e. vertically). For those of you unfamiliar with doing so, simply go to the hierarchy tab, click Affect pivot only and only the pivot (i.e. what the object rotates around at this point); match the place where the XYZ axes are on the image I've presented.

Hit A, for angular snap (i.e. the object rotates in increments of 5 degrees), then E for the rotate tool, and drag on the guiding circle until it's vertical. It's actually ridiculously simple once you get around to rotating the thing a few times. And there's a display of how many degrees you're rotating the thing, so it's rather impossible to miss the 90 degrees.

Step 3

Now, to apply the material on the reference plane - hit M, to open up the big material browser, pick any material there, search for DIFFUSE, (yes, it's in the rollout), and click the little box next to it. Thereupon, double click on bitmap, and browse to your desktop (I am assuming that is where you saved the image) and load it up.

This is what it should look like, basically. You're meant to click where the M is now, and also after loading the bitmap (the sphere will change to the texture); also, notice that I have modified Self-illumination value - if the texture is too dark, generally speaking, you can modify the number (between 0 and 100) to make the texture brighter. Also, a note: this is standard 3ds max material, which has this setting. Standard VRay materials (yes, VRay does have separate materials ) do NOT have this setting, and will not show up so well.

Also, to test your powers of observation, I have intentionally not mentioned the button you're meant to click to make the texture appear (you should really FOCUS on the tutorials, otherwise you're never gonna learn anything) --- see the little checkered cube that isn't pressed down in the picture I've presented? That's called "Show map in viewport", and it's really important if you want the texture to show up. i.e. it WILL NOT show up otherwise.

This is what you should have at this point. I have intentionally left out highlighting the important areas, because you must concentrate, if you want to remember this even 2 days from now.

Step 4

Alrighty, let's get down the actual modeling. It's a fairly simple model, and assuming you're familiar with the move tools, it should be quite easy to do. But in case you're not quite familiar, I'm going to direct you to another tutorial (from the same series presented earlier as further reading) - - again, video, audio, and it's a lot nicer to understand what I'm doing there, as opposed to me writing the inner workings of the tools in text form - quite hard to understand that way.

I'm hoping you've seen the tutorial (woefully enough, I cannot spell out the process of modelling the lamp here, because it's fairly simple, but it will take in excess of 3-4-5 pages which are all neatly surmised in the lesson there), so that I may provide a few tips about the modelling itself. It's tricky even with the tools, especially if you like to model like I do - i.e. symmetrically.

#1: The idea here is that, being a glorified rectangle, you're going to model one side of the lamp, then copy it 4 times around, so that it becomes nice and even.

Trap #1: Unless you know that the wisest way to go about things, when going for even-ness is that you have a pivot point right in the middle of your lamp, and that you create ONE SIDE of the lamp, and then duplicate that side at 90 degree angles, to fill out the rest of the lamp. The problem with that is, say you model just one side. Let me present this theory right now.

Let's flesh out the basic idea, at this point. Every color represents a different box. Every box is... well... a box. We're going to use all manner of boxes to create this little lamp. It's not complicated, all you have to do is mess around with them until they're the size you need.

Now select one of those horizontal boxes that would house the light, select "Affect pivot only" and hit "Center to object". This is now basically the center around which we're going to move this side of the lamp to make it symmetrical (sure hope I spelled that right). Notice: when you've affecting the pivot, as it were, you get that set of three 3D arrows to indicate that you're indeed working with the pivot, as opposed to the axes, that show that you're moving the model (as OPPOSED to the pivot). Remember Undo is your friend (Ctrl + Z ftw!).

Now for a bit of tricky pivot adjusting, so bear with me, take it slow, read it through a few times. DESELECT THE AFFECT PIVOT OPTION AS IT CAN SOMETIMES REMAIN ON AND CONFUSE YOU. Select the tall box -

Now right click it, and convert it to an editable poly -

The right-hand side of the screen will change from the CREATE tab to the MODIFY tab (if necessary, review the first few thumbnails presented in the tutorial to make sense of the placement; as a note, it is on the far right) -

Notice the ATTACH button, hit it, and select the other long box, that's on the other side of the lamp's face (as it were, it has 4 faces);

If done correctly, and you actually colored the boxes into silly colors, both boxes should have the same color right now.

Now you have to play it by ear, to prove you've been following along.

Select the attached boxes (now 1 item), and center the pivot, so it's right between them.

Go to Tools -> Align (or hit Alt + A for the hotkey), and select the upper box - this is to align the pivot point of the 2 tall boxes to the pivot point (that has hopefully been CENTERED by now) of the upper LID I guess. This is all done with the "Affect pivot only" option selected.

Step 5

Now that the pivot is properly aligned, we can begin to attach some more things items into groups, for easier DUPLICATION and subsequent ROTATION.

But how do we go about doing that? Let's first ensure that we have a proper foundation. Select the tall boxes, hit E, HOLD SHIFT (this is to duplicate them, instead of rotating the originals), and rotate them to 180 degrees. You should have this now:

Now to really play by ear (and yes, a tutorial that's worth anything will make you THINK in order to EDUCATE yourselves), you have to attach the remaining objects into clumps, align their pivots to the midline of the lamp, and duplicate them so the lamp is nice and even. And symmetrical.

It's entirely possible my proportions are somewhat off, and you might have to either adjust them, or duplicate them with the off proportions and adjust them manually, both would be beneficial for your knowledge of moving things around, and duplicating them. But again, you must think for yourselves and customize the model to fit your requirements and taste. This isn't Star Wars Episode 3.

If all goes well, you should have this, by now. Note however that I modified my standard VRay settings to give a decent overview of what it should look like. Yours will probably look less like a clay render, and more like... a standard uglyarse 3ds max render. Fear not, we'll get to those in just a minute.

Step 6

If you're inclined to skip the modelling, plus the following step, I will provide here a link to the already modelled lamp with the test render settings, which I will detail below anyway. Click to download source file

Render settings baby!

These are the general test render settings, which you can use for pretty much everything. It's a cookie-cutter setup, that might need adjusting at some point, but for the purposes of this tutorial... they're sufficient.
Also, for the purposes of further reading:

I treat the subject completely there, and it's oriented at beginners, with test and final render settings. So, on to the cookie cutter settings - series of images - just copy them down.

It should pretty much take care of itself now, and the render should look like the test render that I've presented.

Step 7

Now, for the actual render setup: create a 2500x2500 plane, and place it horizontally. Lower the lamp to the grid in the middle, unless you've done that already, assign a VRay material with a light grey color (it's going to be colored light blue by the environmental light anyway.

Now you can work on making the material for the lamp. and you have a backdrop against which you can test the settings.

I'm going to randomly decide that now we get to work on the backdrop, beyond making it blue. Here are the floor textures, along with screenshots of the settings you need to use to use to make them all shiny. Not the highest quality wood, but this is all to prove a point. If it's ugly, you'll want to make it prettier, which is the point - THINK FOR YOURSELVES.

First off, select the ground plane. Click on the drop down button for the modifier list, and select UVW map. This will allow us to increase the tiles on the texture, and make it repeat more times, instead of just one. At higher resolutions, and given that the texture I've provided is TILEABLE (i.e. you can't tell it has edges), it won't look like pixellated crap. Now, when you've applied the UVW map, set U Tile, V tile and W tile to 3.0, each.

And the texture settings - (hit M and stop asking how to get to those)

Note: for the final render settings, you're going to want to set Subdivs and Max Depth to 20, so the reflections won't look like pixellated shite. It will increase render times quite a bit, but look very nice.

Here's another test render - lookin' not too shabby!

Now for the wood that the little lamp is made out of - here are the textures. Same settings, except perhaps the gloss which will be 1.0, and the bump which would be 3 instead of 30.

Far as the actual paper or whatever the "shades" that the light would come through, here's the texture. It's a pretty fancy texture, with sub surface scattering (SSS), which really adds to the realism, I suppose. Nothing to explain, just recreate the texture as will be detailed below.

That should pretty much tide you over, and help you get the final render in. For the piece de resistance, add a small VRay light inside the lamp, and set it to about 30 or so, render, and adjust as desired. Serve chilled, with a glass of '76 Chardonay. Or something.

That should be it. If you want a really high-quality render, kindly check the Vray tutorial I've posted a link to in this tutorial, it's already quite long winded as it is.

Good luck with this thing. :)
Final source file here: clicky