Monday, January 18, 2010

How to Create a 3D Magic Illustration in 3ds Max tutorial

3D Magic Tutorial – Final Effect

In this tutorial, I will show you how to create an awesome 3D magic top-hat! We will use 3ds Max and Adobe Photoshop to render and then post-process the image.



Magic Stars

Let’s create a star with five sides and an arc by going to ‘Create Panel -> Shapes -> Splines -> Arc/Star’.

Magic Stars – Loft

Now select the arc and go to ‘Create Panel -> Compound Objects’ and choose a ‘Loft’. Pick your star as a shape. Duplicate them and group as on the image below.

Magic Top-hat

Use ‘Line’ again to create curve similar to mine one.

Magic Top-hat – Lathe

We have to rotate this curve about an Y axis to create a 3D object. Use a ‘Loft’ modifier to achieve that with ‘Direction’ set to Y and ‘Align’ set to ‘Max’.

Magic Top-hat – Final Touches

Our top-hat looks quite nice but it has no thickness, it’s a bit rough and indifferent. To fix that and make it smoother and less linear simply add it a couple of modifiers as follows:
  • Shell with outer amount set to 0.0254m
  • Turbosmooth with iterations set to one
  • Noise – X=1.4m, Y=1.4m, Z=-1.9m
Settings above work for me but you may need to change them so feel free to do it.

Magic Stick

The last thing wee need is a magic stick. Create a cylinder. Use 0.015m for radius and one meter for height. You may also increate the number of sides to 18 or so to make it smoother.


The next step is to put everyting inside of near the top hat. Also try to create some magic shapes around like stars, moons etc.

Particle Flow Stars


I used particle flow to create my stars faster. Simply create something similar to what I got. Don’t forget to change particle emitter’s direction to make your particles go upwards. Create a star shape, extrude it and pick your newly created 3D star as a ‘Shape Instance’ inside of particle flow view. All the particles should become stars now. You may also add a wind and a drag as forces.

Rendering Your Scene

I basically used standard lights on this scene with sharp shadows (VRayShadow should work fine here). I’ve also created a ground plane with color set to dark grey. Output size was set to 1680×1050px and it was rendered with VRay.


Paste your scene into Adobe Photoshop. It should look like on the image below but I recommend to improve your render as much as you can before going to the Photoshop.

Colorful Background

Draw something like that using your brush tool (B).
Go to Filter -> Gaussian Blur and set the radius farily high like to the 80 pixels. Afterwards set this layer to ‘Vivid Light’.
Create a new layer and press D to reset you colors to black and withe. Go to ‘Filter -> Render -> Clouds’. Use ‘Overlay’ for the blending mode and decrease layer’s opacity to 25%.
Paint some light rays over the top hat. Use your brush tool or rectangle tool to do it.

Final Touches

Finally, add some particles everywhere using brush tool or a star photo. There is one more thing I haven’t mentioned about before. You can add some more 3D objects to your work and paint on them in Photoshop. I used here some shapes that I’ve created half an year ago because they looked nice in this particular case. They are not necessary so I leave it up to you!


Below you can find the final work. Click to enlarge! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Next tutorial is coming next week! Don’t miss it!
One more thing: I will refine this image soon and add in some more details to it! Check back soon for the newer version!