Post November 27th, 2009, 7:22 pm

[ADVICE] How to render your gmax models

This is something I found out a while ago while they were teaching use kerkythea in class. I came to realise that you could use kerkythea as a render engine for your gmax models, and seeing how there's just so many people that use gmax over 3ds max, for god knows what reasons (can't afford it, can't pirate it...).

I'll start with a little bit of background information to what you should expect in the following guide.
We're going to be using kerkythea as a rendering engine. Kerkythea, is a stand alone render engine, in my field it is known a lot because of the integration it has with sketch up, which is a really easy modelling tool. kerkythea also can be, somewhat, integrated in a whole bunch of other modelling programs like, gmax or blender.
Take note that it's not that kerkythea can render your actual gmax model, we use an exporter plug in that it has many limitations and one of the biggest ones is the lack of camera animation support, that means your camera isn't really exported animated (if you expected to render it and get the frames automatically). I'll try to fill this guide with a lot of images as well, so you understand what's going on and what you should do rather than just read text.
I will not lie, any rendering process is hard to understand at the beggining and your renders will come up depending on your ability not in the quality of the program you used to model or render.

Rendering gmax models
Like I said before, we're going to be using kerkythea. You can grab it here.
We will also be needing this which is our exporter plug in.
And of course, gmax.

If you don't have gmax installed now would be a good time to download it and install it.

Start by finding the exporting plug in and extracting it. If you can't find it, the name should be GM2K0.5.rar Inside the extracted folder you'll find a folder named Maxroot. Copy the Maxroot folder on gmax's root folder. And after this step, the fun begins :D

Run gmax, we will be installing the plug in first. When done loading up go to customize -> customize user interface.
There will be several dropdown boxes and a list box, it should look like this:

Change to the toolbars tab and click the category dropdown and if you did the previous steps correcly (can one even fail at copy+pasting?) you should be able to see an option labelled "U3D Tools" if you scroll way down.

You will now see an option (In the list box) labelled "GM2K0.5" Click it - hold it there! - and grab it to any other tool bar you have in your UI. For example I grabbed it next to the materials editor.

After grabbing it:

The plug in should now be succesfully installed to use.
Here's how the plug in works, the plug in consists of two main components what I call the "listener" and the "sender". The "sender" is what we just installed. You create your model, add a camera and press the button labelled "Render K" (The one we grabbed into the UI) and it enables the "listener" to... basically "hear" gmax. The listener is a file found inside the GM2K0.5 folder (The extracted plug in folder) called GMaxSLGRAB.exe. When the sender is activated the listener grabs whatever model the sender is sending it. Yeah, that's how it works. It's pretty much simple when you do it, so let's try it!

I have this old model of cornelius rooster! that I made and that I like to use in tutorials. You can download the scene here:
Beware that it doesn't have legs, though :P

Cornelius Rooster in all his might!
The scene is ready to make the test we need so you finish this lesson.
Camera has been added for you and some quick materials are already in the model.

Continue by clicking the "Render K" button (The one we had to grab to the UI) and a box with a lot of options should pop up, pay no attention to them for now and just press the "Export Scene" button and wait for a little while. Took around 1 minute for me, as you can see the more geometry you have the more time it will take to export, freezing is nothing but normal since the plug in can't handle that much at one time. After a while it should say it's ready to be grabbed with the listener.

Now go to the plug in folder and run the "listener" which is the file named GMaxSLGRAB.exe and click the big hude "Grab" button which is the only thing you see.
It should then (after a little while) ask you for a file name to save as XML file. This is the file you will open with Kerkythea to render, finally!

Install kerkythea, if you haven't done it.
Run kerkythea and open the XML file. The model should load and you should see it in the viewport.
To make the viewport display something other than wireframes go to view->adjust and select solid rendering.
Oh no! The model is all black!
That's because, like I told you the exporting plug in is actually pretty bad. I recommend always modelling in gmax and add your materials in kerkythea. After all, kerkythea can do much more better materials than gmax.

Go to settings (in the menu bar) and then select materials. The "line 13" is the material the model is composed of. It's one single material for all the model. Double click it and it should open the material editor.
Just to finish this lesson, rick click the "diffuse" text and add a color. Select any color you like. I gave it a green, added an omni light and here's my results.

To render, all you have to do is click the green circle icon with a little man running and there should be a few quick options that are kinda self explanatory. The "Settings" dropdown controls the "quality" of the rendered image. The higher the number the better, but in my experience you should never go higher than 7, it takes a long time (specially in complex scenes that aren't just one model) from 7-12 the difference is kinda really small and totally not worth the ammount of time spent and from 13+ they're just meant for different

That's about it. Pleaseeee, don't worry if you can't change the materials in the cornelius model, the way it is modelled makes the plug in work even less (line modelling) and makes it not recognize the geometry separately. Your models shouldn't have as many problems as my old one did.

Notes: This method works best for when you make a model and want to make a few concept renders. To render actual real frames you'll have to manually create/move the camera to make the model rotation.
You can make "walkthrough" animations in kerkythea
Kerkythea has better material libraries than gmax, remember that.
Unofficial Mod Night: