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How to create Ocean in 3ds Max using mental ray

3D Water – The Ocean

In this tutorial we will create and render a 3d water surface in 3ds max that can be used as any water body. We will use Mental Ray renderer and Daylight System in the scene.

Step 1

By default 3d max uses Scanline renderer. Change the renderer to the Mental Ray. Go to Rendering-> Render Setup->Common Tab -> Assign Renderer -> Production.

Step 2

We will have create a geometry. Create a Plane. Go to Create Panel -> Geometry -> Standard Primitive -> Plane.

Set Length to 500 and width to 500.

Step 3 

Create a Target Camera just above the Plane . Go to Create panel -> Cameras -> Target.Activate the Perspective view and press C in the keyboard to activate the Camera view.


Step 4

Open the material editor and crate an ocean material.

Click on get material and select Arch and Design

Select Ocean plane and assign material to it.

Select Water,Reflective Surface template.


Step 5

Now we will illuminate the ocean with the daylight system. Daylight system is a simulation of real world sun. Go to Create Panel -> Systems -> Daylight in the top viewport.

Daylight Parameters

  • Sunlight : we will use mr Sun
  • Skylight : mr Physical Sky
  • Position : We will set it manually.


Step 6 First Render of the 3D Ocean

We have the ocean and the daylight system so it’s a good idea to check how the rendered image looks like. Your image should look similar to picture below. In the background you see the mr Physical Sky environment map which was added automatically in the previous step. The brown line represents the ground in the background map. Thanks to Metal Ray’s lume shader the plane looks like and 3d ocean already. However, there are some things I’d like to change:

  • Horizon should be lowered to hide the ground
  • Smaller Waves
  • More blue and saturated colors to both ocean and the sky
  • Little brighter image

Step 7

Color, saturation, and brightness of the image can be adjusted in the parameters of the Daylight:

  • mr Sky Parameters
    • Multiplier: 1,1 ( increases the intensity of the sun )
    • mr Sky Advanced Parameters
      • Red/Blue Tint: -0,1 ( changes the hue of the light and sky )
      • Saturation: 1,3 ( changes the saturation of the light and sky )

And if you feel like it, do some color correction in Photoshop:

  • Brightness: 35
  • Contrast: 25

Now our 3d water is complete. Next we’re going to see what else we can get out of the daylight system.


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Amod Mantri

Co-Founder and Content Writer
Amod drinks lots of coffee and writes articles. A student by day , blogger by night. When a team needs a gum to hold itself together , he is there to chew it.

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