Thursday, December 25, 2008

Creating a mirror with unlimited reflections

by Sushant Sudame

Before starting this tutorial, I assume that all the readers have a basic knowledge of 3dsmax.

Most of us know how to create a reflecting mirror in 3D max. It’s easy as apple pie. For those who do not know. The steps are here.
  1. Create a plane or a box or any geometry with flat surfaces.
  2. Open material editor and click on the diffuse spot of any empty slot.
  3. Select flat mirror form the new material library.
  4. Apply material to the geometry. (Plane is the best to choose.)
  5. Now, create any object in front of the geometry or the mirror.
  6. Add a light, preferably omni in the scene.
  7. Render. The reflection can be seen clear as a crystal!

For all those artists who have been through this, know its limitations. Flat mirror material cannot reflect its own reflection. Confused? Most of you must have been to a barber shop? What do you find? Two mirrors in front of each other, showing multiple reflections. Flat mirror fails in that way. Either you arrange the scene to cheat a bit or you use one mirror.

Setting up the scene with flat mirrors can be interesting but you cannot create an animation as they fail to reflect their own reflections.

To create a multiple reflection scene, what can be done? Before proceeding further, let me tell you that the people who have a low end system must follow the further steps at there own risk. Now let’s make the material and the scene.

  1. Select an empty slot.
  2. Change the Ambient and diffuse colour to black and specular to white.
  3. In maps, apply Raytrace to the reflection map with reflection value set to 100.
  1. It’s a bit tricky. Create a frame for the glass.
  2. Now create a plane over the frame that is going to be used as the glass.
  3. Apply the material to the plane. ( You can also use a multi sub object material to create the complete assembly).
  4. Make a clone of the complete mirror setup and place it in front of the old one.
  5. Create any object between the two mirrors, let’s say, a teapot on a box.
  6. Adjust the camera angle to render.
  7. I placed a skylight with intensity 1.5 and light tracer left on. Even without any light in the scene, it is going to work.
  8. Render the scene.

This mirror is much superior in performance, over the flat mirror. The flat mirror can be only applied to the flat surfaces, but this mirror can be applied to any kind of geometry, even complex mesh objects such as automobiles, characters and even to NURBS objects. If you have noticed rivets or spoons, they have a kind of bloated reflection. The material will solve the issue of creating such reflection as well. So enjoy your new mirror and feel free to contact me for queries at Please critic this tutorial. Your suggestions are most welcome.

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