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Beginner Tutorial

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This is a continuation of the Coffee Mug Modeling tutorial. The information presented here builds on the lessons learned in that tutorial. In this section we'll be rendering the mug to produce a final image. If you have skipped the modeling section, you can grab the coffee mug model here. With the Mug model open, make sure you're in the 'Model' interface tab and let's get started.

It would be simple enough to just press 'Render' and have an image of the coffee mug at this point, but it wouldn't be that interesting of an image, especially with the default settings. And while rendering a single object has its place, in most cases users will be using MODO to render out a scene, where there are multiple objects, a background, and some distinct lighting. In this Rendering section we'll be assigning a UV map, adjusting the surface of the mug and cloning it, using a preset to make a basic scene, and then adjusting camera and render item settings to produce pleasing results.

Making a UV Map

The first thing we want to do is to apply a UV map for later surfacing. If you're not familiar with what a UV map is, don't worry, this will be a very simple process. UV maps are simply a way of assigning how a flat texture gets applied to a 3D surface at render time. To make things a little easier, I want to hide the handle first. Using the lasso selection method covered in the previous tutorial, from a side view, drag out a shape, selecting just the handle. It will be pretty tough to select the entire handle without also selecting some of the body polygons, so if you just select the main part of the handle, you can also use the grow selection shortcut- 'Shift+Up Arrow' to add the adjoining polys where the handle meets the body. Once the entire handle is selected, press 'H' to hide the geometry. Hiding geometry is a great way to concentrate on just a group of polygons in an object layer, and to ensure that geometry remains unmodified, as geometry that is hidden cannot be selected, or edited.

Step 01

In the bottom subtab of the toolbox are some UV tools, not as many as in the 'UV' mapping interface tab, but enough to do what we need to do here. Select the 'UV Projection Tool' toward the top of the toolbox and LMB+click in the 3D viewport to activate the tool. In the tools properties panel, set the 'Projection Type' to 'Cylinder', making sure the axis is set 'Y', so the map will wrap around the cups height. Leave the 'Settings' on 'Automatic'; this sizes the cylinder volume to match that of the selected (or in this case visible) polygons' outer bounding box volume. (A bounding box is simply a rectangular volume of space the represents an object's total height, width and depth). That's it, the map is made. Press 'Q' to drop the tool accepting the UV map values. The map you just created in this way is sort of like the equivalent of shrink-wrapping gift wrap around our 3D object, which also happens to be a cylinder, producing a perfect wrap. Next, we'll assign an image map that matches the logo on the original reference image. Press 'U' to unhide the handle, making it visible once again.

We're pretty much finished now with the 'Model' interface tab, so switch to the 'Layout' tab for this next section, or if not using the tabs, press Ctrl+Tab and select the 'Layout' workspace option form the popup menu. We'll be focused on laying out the scene for rendering, and this tab has all the functions for doing just that. The Layout section is unique in that it has tools for cloning geometry, which is precisely what we are going to do next.

Before we continue there is a rather important concept users must understand to use the tools to their best benefit. So far you've used the 'Polygons' and 'Edges' selection modes to modify the geometry, now while laying out the scene we'll be working in 'Items' selection mode. In 'Items' selection mode, users can only modify an items position, rotation and scale, collectively known as its transform values. The previous modes, 'Vertices, 'Edges' and 'Polygons' are collectively known as the component editing modes and are strictly for editing the geometry itself. Two distinct operations take place in either the component or 'Items' modes (though their result will be identical, which often causes confusion), so they can be thought of in this way that each item layer in the 'Items List' is a container for geometry. While in Items mode, you transform the container, but while in any of the component modes, only the contents of that container can be edited.

The upper right viewport of the Layout interface has its own series of tabs and users can select the 'Items' tab to get a list of all the available items, or layers and they are sometimes referred to in the current scene. So, now while in 'Items' selection mode, make sure the mug layer is selected in the 'Items' list. LMB+click on the layer name (likely called 'Mesh', or 'Coffee Mug' if you grabbed the included file), highlighting the layer. Now any operations applied to the scene will only affect that selected layer. The toolbox on the far left side of the screen has a row of buttons. Hidden underneath some of the buttons are alternate tools. These hidden tools are specified with the small gray arrow in the lower right corner of the button itself. LMB+click and hold on the button to open a context menu displaying all the alternate options. The actual tool we want is hidden under the 'Scatter Clone' button, so LMB+click and hold over that button to open the popup and then choose the 'Instance Scatter' button, enabling the tool.

Step 2

LMB+clicking the 3D viewport will activate the tools interactive mode. You might not see anything in the viewport right away, aside from a tool handle, but if you press the 'A' key while hovering the mouse cursor over the 3D viewport to view all items in the scene, you should see 8 coffee mugs scattered all around. In the tools property panel, you can adjust the 'Count' value to any number you like, I wanted quite a few mugs, so I set mine to 25. I also want all the mugs to rest on the ground, so the 'Range' for the vertical axis 'Y' was set at 0m. To randomly rotate the clones, I set the 'Y' rotate value to 360°and then adjusted the range on the 'X' and 'Z' axes to bring the mugs closer together. The Clone tool has no idea about intersections, so some mugs will overlap, we'll fix that in the next step. If you're not happy with the placement of the clones, you can adjust the 'Seed' value till you receive a result you are happy with. Once finished, drop the tool by pressing 'Q' on the keyboard.

Now in addition to the original mug, you now have a number of pink wireframe clones. That pink color denotes that the duplicates are indeed Instances. Instances are virtual copies that reference the original mesh item. I chose them for two reasons, one, they contain no real geometry, just a reference to their originator, so they keep the scene file light and its size small, and two, any modifications made to the originator will propagate to the clones automatically making it easy to modify them later on.

Unlike other types of duplicated objects, such as Replicators, users have individual control over each Mug instance, so while still in 'Items' mode, users can LMB+click on any mug to select it, then press the 'W' key to move (transform) the mugs position. If you LMB+click on the green circle handle, it will constrain the movement parallel to the ground plane, making it easy to modify each items position. While the move tool is active, you can simply LMB+click over another mug instance to select it and then use the tools handles to move it around. Keep doing so until all of the mugs are positioned so they are no longer intersecting. Pressing 'Alt' and tumbling the viewport will help in getting a better view of the scene when making adjustments. 'Pressing 'Shift+A' will zoom the currently selected items to fill the entire viewport, making it a little easier to navigate around amongst the multiple items. I also added some rotation here and there and ended up with the results shown below.

Step 3

The 'Items' list has now gotten a little over-filled with layers, so first I want to organize that a little. LMB+click on the top most Instance layer, and scroll to the bottom and hold the 'Shift' key, and LMB+click on the bottom most layer, selecting all the layers in between. Now press 'Ctrl+G' to group all the layers together into a 'Group Locator'. Toggling the small ' arrow ' arrow icon preceding the name will hide all the layers in the list making it easier to navigate.

We need just one additional piece of geometry to fill out the scene and for that we'll use a 'Preset' mesh. In the 'Preset Browser' across the bottom of the screen, select the 'Meshes' tab and locate the 'Basic' folder, opening it. Inside you will find a few simple objects. LMB+double click on the one named 'Ground Plane'. This will serve as the ground in our scene, most importantly catching cast shadows, so the rendered mugs do not look like they are floating in space. Next, we'll move on to Surfacing and Rendering, make sure to save your scene before continuing.

Setting Up the Render

For the rendering portion of this tutorial, we'll close it out working in the 'Rendering' interface tab, so switch to that now. In the upper right viewport, expose the 'Shader Tree' panel, all the surfacing and render settings are set through the items in this list.

First, we want to position the camera. That can be done in the main viewport area. There are three 3D viewports to work with in the Rendering interface, a render 'Preview', giving a quick reduced quality sample of the final image, a Camera view that shows exactly what the camera will see geometry wise, and an advanced OpenGL 'Perspective' view similar to the one in the 'Model' interface. By LMB+clicking in the upper right, you can navigate around, using the standard viewport controls, 'Alt+LMB+click and drag' to rotate the view and 'Ctrl+Alt+LMB+click and drag' to zoom in and out. Although when doing these action in this viewport, users are actually moving the 'Camera' item, this is a great time saver, where there is no need to select the Camera item and then activate a transform tool. As you change the view, you will see the preview update in real time. I know I wanted my scene to center on my initial mug model, so I zoomed into that one quickly by selecting it and the pressing 'Shift+A' to frame it in the viewport, and then slowly zooming out, moving the camera backwards until I had the view how I wanted it. I also wanted a slightly wider angle of view than the default settings provide; this can also be adjusted interactively by holding the 'Ctrl+Alt' keys down and RMB+dragging in the viewport. Feel free to move any of the Mug items once the camera is set using the perspective viewport. It's a huge time saver to see how the rendered image will look while you're making scene adjustments. Once the Camera position is set, and all the items are in place we can get to the surfacing and rendering. Once you are happy, make sure to save your scene.

Step 3


Surfacing the Mugs

Before we start surfacing the mug, I want to adjust the lighting as it plays such an important role in a rendered scene. I like to work in a facsimile of the lighting I'll use for the final render when adjusting surfaces. In the Shader Tree, this is the viewport panel labeled 'Shading' found to the lower right of the 3D viewports. In there are the various items or layers that represent the shading or rendering of our scene. Selecting one of the layers will display its attributes in the 'Properties' panel to the right of the screen. If it is not visible, select the 'Properties' tab, exposing the viewport. The very top item in the Shader Tree is called the 'Render' item, this item holds the settings related to rendering the scene, such as frame size, Antialiasing and other quality related settings and also Global Illumination.

Global Illumination is a technique used in 3D graphics to mimic the effects of real world light bouncing around in a scene, producing extremely realistic results. It is such a common technique to use, it is turned on by default in a new scene. If it is not turned on for your scene, or you want to just know where it is; located on the right side of the 'Properties' panel are several subtabs, select the 'Global Illumination' tab and then under the 'Indirect Illumination' options select the 'Enable' toggle, leaving the rest of the settings at default. If it wasn't already turned on, then you should notice a dramatic change in the 'Preview' viewport right away.

Step 5

When enabling 'Global Illumination', MODO lights the scene using the settings of the 'Environment' item. By default, this comes from a gradient applied to the 'Environment Material'. I prefer the look of Image Based Lighting, so I want to add an HDRI environment. This can be done easily using the presets MODO provides. The Preset Browser can be opened from any interface layout inside a popup window. This is done by pressing 'F6' on the keyboard. In the 'Preset' browser on the left side, there is a navigator. Using the controls (LMB+click to twirl open the small arrows) locate the "Environments > Outdoor" folder, LMB+double click on the 'Beverly Hills' preset (just like adding the ground mesh earlier) to add the Image to the Environment item. Press 'F6' again to close the window.

The lighting will again dramatically change for the scene in the render Preview producing a nice outdoor look to the rendered image, already improving it quite a bit from the initial settings. The lighting in the Beverly Hills image will be coming from the right hand side for my image (-X), so I also want to rotate the Directional light to try to match that. This can be accomplished most easily in the 'Perspective' view across the bottom. Press 'Ctrl+Alt' and dragging in the viewport to zoom out and then select the 'Directional Light' item in the viewport, but LMB+clicking over it when it highlights. With the item selected, modify the 'Action Center', selecting the 'Origin' option, allowing you to easily rotate the Light from the worlds center. Press the 'E' key to activate the rotate tool and then grabbing just the 'Y' axis handle (the Green' circle) rotate the light about 45° to the right.

Now onto the surfacing. Earlier in the modeling tutorial, a Material tag was applied to the model, named 'Mug'. This action also created what is called a Material Group. Not to go into too much detail in this tutorial, but this particular item creates a procedural mask that limits any surfing contained under that Group in the Shader Tree to just surfaces tagged with that name. It's covered more in-depth in the Shader Tree documentation. Each 'Material Group' mask contains a 'Material' item that controls most of the attributes of any surface- what color it is, how shiny it is, etc. We need to select this item in order to edit it in the 'Properties' panel. While its not that hard to select the proper Material item in the Shader Tree in this case, MODO has a great feature to allow users to quickly see what layers are attributed to any part of the scene, by using a shortcut in the 'Preview' viewport. RMB+click over one of the Coffee Mugs in the Preview panel, opening a context menu with a list of all the layers that apply to the mug. In the menu, LMB+click on the 'Material' item, directly under the 'Mug' group, selecting it in the Shader Tree.

Step 6

Looking over the attributes in the Properties viewport, I want to first adjust the color, as it is much lighter than the mug in the original image. You can LMB+click anywhere on the 'Diffuse Color' swatch opening the MODO Color Picker. Adjust the value to a much darker gray color without going completely black. The original is also quite matte (as opposed to Shiny) so I will modify the 'Roughness' value to 90%, this softens the overall sheen, looking more like the original matte surface. I want to go for realism, so I also enable the following settings 'Conserve Energy', 'Match Specular' and 'Blurry Reflections', changing the 'Reflection Rays' setting to '128' and changing the 'Specular Amount' and 'Fresnel' settings to '10%' and '20%' respectively. These particular attributes are all explained in detail in the 'Material' item documentation. They all happen to be render intensive as well, so if your system specs are modest, you may do best to keep them at the default disabled state. You can see now its much closer to the original mug.

Step 7

Now we'll finally utilize that UV map we made earlier to apply an image to the mug. It's likely you don't have a texture with a MODO logo handy, so grab this one and save it somewhere so you can apply it to the model. Using the 'Add Layer' button at the top of the Shader Tree, select the 'Load Image' option from the popup menu, navigate to where you saved the image to, and select 'Open' loading the image. The image should appear right away on the surface. If the image did not show up properly, it is probably not assigned to the UV map properly. To the left of the layer name is a small '+' icon, LMB+click on it to open the 'Texture Locator', this controls how the image maps onto the mug surface. Make sure the 'Projection Type' is set to the 'UV Map' option, and then, if there are more than one maps listed under the 'UV Map' option, select the alternate map.

The image we just applied is a transparent PNG; because of the layered approach of the Shader Tree, the transparent edges will show the regular material color underneath our image instead of making the surface transparent. This is exactly what we want, making it easy to add labels, markings and other non-rectangular images to a surface easily.

Step 8

One problem you'll likely notice right away is the fact that the inside of the mug has a logo as well, since the mug is one continuous surface, it projects all the way into it, so the easiest way to remove the unwanted logo is to apply a different surface to the interior of the mug. This is where it turns into a good idea to have cloned using 'Instances', any changes made to the original now will propagate to all the clones. Press 'Q' to drop any tools and then 'Esc' to drop any selections. In the 'Perspective' viewport, RMB+click over any of the pink mugs and from the popup context menu that opens, select the 'Select Source of Instance' option. Press 'Shift+A' to zoom to that model. Make sure to switch to 'Polygons' selection mode, since we're now editing the model itself. Rotate the view to see the inside of the mug and LMB+click to select the base of the interior. Press 'Shift+Up Arrow' to grow the selection until it encompasses the entire inside of the mug. Now to assign a new material tag, overwriting the previous. Press 'M' to open the 'Assign Material' dialog and name the surface 'Inside Mug', pressing OK to accept the rest of the default settings.

You can see in the 'Preview' that the insides of all the mugs are now back to the default values, but the logo is gone. I want to make the inside material match that of the exterior, so to make things easy on myself I will instance the material, so that changes to it will also change the instance later on if I need to edit them. Do this by first selecting the mug exterior 'Material' in the Shader Tree that we just modified, RMB+click on it to open the context menu popup and select the 'Create Instance' option. There are now two 'Material' items in the group, one of them has its name italicized. LMB+click on the italicized one and drag it above the material inside the 'Inside Mug' group and release the mouse button to drop it. LMB+click to select the 'Material' that was already in there press 'Delete', removing it from the tree as it is no longer necessary.

Now the insides have no logo, the surfacing matches the exterior and since the interior mask contains an instance, any changes made to the original will propagate to the instance, so subsequent edits will effectively change both surfaces, another great time saver. Go back to the original 'Material' and make it green, just to see, isn't that cool? You can see your progress by pressing 'F9' to render the scene. Feel free to make adjustments to the Shader Tree to get a feel for what does what if you like. Once you have the scene the way you like, make sure to save it. Here is where mine is.

Step 9

The image looks much better now, but I want to add a couple more effects to make it a little more realistic. Some of these settings may become quite render intensive (meaning they will take a long time to calculate) so if your machine specs are modest, or you don't like waiting for renders to complete you may want to proceed with caution. The first settings I want to adjust are those of the light. The shadow it is casting is a little harsh and that's a dead giveaway that an image is computer generated. So to soften the shadows out, select the 'Directional Light' item in the Shader Tree and in the Properties viewport, change the 'Spread Angle' value to 10° and the 'Samples' setting to '128' making the light look a lot more realistic.

Now for the Camera, select the 'Camera' item in the 'Shader Tree' so we can edit its attributes. The shallow depth of field look is very popular, so let's enable that feature also. It is found in the 'Camera Effect' subtab of the Properties viewport. LMB+click the 'Enable' toggle under 'Depth of Field'; you can also select the 'Autofocus' button, this will cause MODO to fire a single ray from the center of the camera and set the 'Focal Distance' at the first surface it encounters. Hitting 'F9' to render out the scene at this point gives me this result.

Coffe Mug Render

A pretty impressive image considering its just a basic coffee mug. This tutorial should've given you a good overview of working from start to finish in MODO, and the steps that are required to complete project including setting up the scene, the difference between the component and Items selection modes and how to enable and use MODO's Global Illumination rendering engine. If you'd like to explore further, you may wish to assign some preset surfaces to the Ground Plane, select a material in the Preset Browser and drag-and-drop it somewhere in the 3D viewport and dropping it onto the ground plane.

If the image looks too grainy for you, you can increase the Antialiasing level in the 'Render Item' under the 'Settings' subtab. For the 'Soft Reflections' and Soft Shadow options of the Material and Light items respectively, it can also help to increase the 'Samples values. Keep in mind that as the number of samples increase, image quality will increase, but so does the render time.


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Kinchie June 30, 2014 at 3:00 PM

1st mission accomplished - nice tut that leaves happy but us hungry for more gnarly modelling and render lessons


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