3DS Max Tutorials For Beginners

3DS Max Tutorials - Neon Light Glow

by Wendy Huther

Neon Light Glow

In this tutorial we are going to create a neon light with text and a spline with a lathe modifier. The light material is very effective, actually we will make it with Architectural material, Final gather and Mental Ray Render. So follow the tutorial and in no time at all you'll be able to apply this new technical ability in any way you like. Enjoy!

3ds max neon light

Step 1.

Let's start!

Open 3ds Max, start with a new page and save it in your scenes folder in 3ds Max.

Step 2.

We will create the base of the neon light, to do this we will first click anywhere in the front viewport then press ALT W so we can work in full viewport.

Go to shapes and select line.

We need to create half the shape of the base then we will add a Lathe modifier, so to do this imagine that the first vertex will be in the center of the top try to drag the line clicking to leave vertices in the same position as this image, the last vertex will be in the center of the bottom, right click on the last vertex to finish the line.

Don't worry about the curved corners we will create them next.

drag the line

Step 3.

Press the modifier button then under the parameters for the line choose vertex.
Right click the mouse on the vertex situated on the corner, then from the drop down menu choose Smooth. Select and move the rest of the vertices to create curved corners, it might take a little bit of practice.

create curved corners

Step 4.

Once we have the shape we are looking for go to the modifier List and choose Lathe.

Set the Lathe parameters to:
Enable - Weld Core
Segments = 32 (that will make it smooth)
Direction = Y
Align = Min

Press ALT W to see what the object looks like in all 4 viewports. Look at the perspective viewport, if you need to make some adjustments just go back to the stack and choose vertex to move the vertices.


Step 5.

We are going to create a small cover for the top of the neon light, to do this we will repeat the anterior exercises.

In the front viewport draw a line starting in the center of the light base with a small curved corner at the edge, right click the last vertex to finish the line.

Apply the Lathe modifier, (notice that the Lathe modifier has kept the parameters we used before)

We will not add any more details to our neon light.

create a small cover

Step 6.

In the Shapes panel we will find Text. There are loads of fonts to choose from, in this tutorial we will use Arial Rounded MT Bold.
Keep the default size of 100. (Change the size for your image)
In Text - delete the Max Text and write the number 3. Now click in the front viewport.

create text

Step 7.

Press the modify button, in Rendering

Enable in Rendering

Enable in Viewport

Thickness = 3,0

Sides = 25

enable text in rendering

Step 8.

Now back to the modify panel and add a Shell modifier.

add shell modifier

Step 9.

Let's make a copy of the text. In the Top viewport hold down the shift key on the keyboard drag the 3 text to the right, then in Clone Options choose Copy and press Ok.

copy text

Step 10.

Now we can just go back to the stack, in Text all we have to do is change the 3 to D.

change text

Step 11.

To make the neon light a bit more realistic we need to connect the neon numbers to the base, so we will add a Edit poly from the modify list, choose vertex then carefully select the bottom section of vertices and delete them. Delete the inner D vertices too.

Click on the Edit poly to close the mode.

convert to edit poly

Step 12.

In the left viewport press ALT W to work the full viewport. Move the letters so we can easily work just on the D first. We will create a line with 5 vertices.

create a line

Step 13.

In the line parameters

Enable In Render

Enable in Viewport

Thickness = 2

Add the Shell modifier the same as we did for the Text.

add shell modifier

Step 14.

Rotate the line, situate it in the text D.

You can go back to the stack and in Line - vertex mode - you can change the position of the vertices until the shape fits.

rotate the line

Step 15.

Create a copy of the line by holding the shift key on the keyboard and moving it to the side. Situate it at the other side of the text. The trick now is to keep going back to the stack and work in the Line - vertex mode - move the vertices to model the shapes. You can also go back to the Edit poly - vertex mode - on the Text to model it.

create a copy of the line

Step 16.

Now we will do the same to the text 3. The text 3 will be situated higher, to do this just move the bottom vertex on the line. The finished neon light should be something like this.

do the same to text 3

Step 17.

The neon light is nearly finished, let's just add a curved line as a cord.
Press the modify button then in vertex mode right click each vertex to convert to Smooth or move them.

curved cord

Step 18.

We have finished the neon light, if we add the material we won't notice the glow effect very well, we need to create some background first.

I have created a box, with two sides, top and bottom. I've added a target camera and an omni light.

Parameters for the omni light:

Ray Traced Shadows on
Intensity = 0,1

create a box

Step 19.

Press M to open the material editor, we can add a wood map to the floor, a nice pale green Standard to the walls, black plastic to the base, chrome to the metal cover on the top of the base, dark grey Standard for the tubes that connect the text to the light.

To create the neon light material we need to use Architectural
Click on Standard and select Architectural from the Material/Map Browser.
Diffuse Color = choose a bright lime green from the color selector.
Luminance cd/m2: = 8000,0 (you can adjust this amount)

neon material

Step 20.

In Rendering on the main toolbar or press F10 scroll down the Common Parameters until Assign Renderer.
In production = Mental Ray Renderer.

mental ray renderer

Step 21.

In Indirect Illumination - Final Gather

Enable Final Gather
Rays per FG point = 300 (you can adjust this amount)
Diffuse Bounces = 2 (you can lower this if you like)

Play around with these amounts as rendering can take longer, but the end result is with it.

final gather

no Luminance

Architectural bright lime material with no Luminance cd/m2

Architectural bright lime material

Architectural bright lime material with 8000 Luminance cd/m2

Hope you have fun with this tutorial, you can make neon lights, neon signs or any glowing material. Enjoy!

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