Rendering with GMax

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One of the advantages of using 3D Studio Max over GMax has always been the capability of the former to perform a quick or full rendering of the model one is working on.
Yet, with the right plugins and a bit of effort, one can add such a rendering function to GMax.

This article gives instructions on how to set up and the basic usage of such a plugin.

Prerequisites

  • An installation of GMax 1.2 (installed gamepack does not matter)


Download

Here

Installation of the rendering plugin

  1. Unzip the downloaded plugin
  2. Rername the folder "RenderSuite" or similar
  3. Running RenderSuiteInstall.exe from the folder and follow the instructions
  4. Delete the .bat file the installer creates on your desktop
  5. Inside your main GMax Folder, create an empty text file
  6. Put these lines inside said text file:
    • For FS9:
    echo on
    cd %cd%\RenderSuite
    start GmaxRender.exe
    cd..
    start gmax.exe -p gamepacks\FS2004\plugin.ini

    • For FSX:
    echo on
    cd %cd%\RenderSuite
    start GmaxRender.exe
    cd..
    start gmax.exe -i gamepacks\FSX_GMaxGamepack\gmax.ini -p gamepacks\FSX_GMaxGamepack\plugin.ini

  7. Save the text file as "GMax with Render.bat" or similar. When asked to change file type, say "Yes"
    • Create a shortcut to the batch file for the desktop, if so desired
  8. Start GMax with the .bat file or the shortcut leading to it
  9. There should be a "Rendering" entry in the main menu bar. If not, refer to the troubleshooting section


Using the RenderSuite

General setup and usage of the render suite is fairly easy as outlined in the following general procedure.

Warning: FSX Materials
The RenderingSuite (or the contained YAFRAY render engine to be more specific) can't use FSX materials, so either:
  • don't use RenderSuite for rendering FSX models in GMax or
  • use RenderSuite for models in very early stages, i.e. without textures or temporary textures, etc... or
  • set up standard materials with textures and then run the "Select By Materials" script to mass assign the render-friendly textures to your scene objects


  • Put some lights into your scene. Spots, Omnis, anything that will properly light the object. Default properties are okay for a start
  • Put a camera into your scene. Free or Target
  • Adjust the angle and position of the camera, so that the desired objects are rougly in focus
    • Make sure to tick "Manual Clipping" in the camera options!
      • For interior spaces, a 15mm lens and 0.1m near clipping treshhold works well
  • Click any viewport's name, then go to "Views" and select "Camera01". The viewport should now show what the camera is seeing
  • The custom camera can be controlled like the default camera in the "Perspective" or "User" viewport mode. Fine tune, if needed
  • When ready, select "Rendering" from the menu
  • Select any of the two clients
    • YAGMAX seems to work best for the author
    • RenderSuite output an untextured model and requires that any scene object has a material applied
  • Rendering options should be left at default for now
  • Make sure that the active viewport is set to "Camera01"
  • Click YAFRAY Render
    • Note: Depending on the number of objects and polygons visible in the scene and selected rendering resolution, the following can take some time
  • Wait. There should be activity in the listener window on the bottom left of GMax' main screen
  • After a moment, a window labeled "RenderSuite" should pop up, in which the rendered content of the "Camera01" viewport is slowly drawn
    • In case no window pops up, refer to the second entry in the troubleshooting section
  • In case of a pleasing rendering result, clicking the disk icon will save the output image in Windows Bitmap format to the "RenderSuite" folder
  • This is the basic process. Plaing with the options for the camera, lights and YAFRAY can yield better results. The worst that can happen is a weird looking or empty render image


Example Render Images

Boeing 737-200 rendered with RenderSuite's YAGMAX mode


Troubleshooting

  1. No "Rendering" menu
    • Redownload RenderSuite, if the .zip file is not present anymore and extract the "Maxmenus.mnu" file from it
    • Copy the .mnu file to "Gmax\RenderSuite"
    • While in GMax, go to "Customize", then "LoadCustomUI scheme"
    • Browse to the "RenderSuite" folder, then select "Menu File (.mnu)" from the dropdown box above "Open"
    • Select the "Maxmenus.mnu" file and click "Open"
    • You should now have a "Rendering" menu item. if not, restart GMax or repeat the procedure

  2. No rendering window after clicking "Render"
    • Open Windows task manager (CTRL+Shift+ESC)
    • Select "GMaxRender.exe" in the process list
    • Click "End Process"
    • Browse to your RenderSuite folder in Windows Explorer
    • Start GMaxRender.exe
    • The rendering window should now pop up and start to display the rendered image. If not, restart the rendering process

  3. YAFRAY crashes upon rendering
    • Don't use FSX materials
    • Make sure to hide any objects not visible in the render image, such as those behind the camera

  4. When using RenderSuite for rendering, it displays an error about empty objects and/oror objects without materials
    • Assign temporary materials to the object(s) in question. They won't need to have a diffuse map
    • Hide any dummies from the scene

  5. Untextured objects on the render image
    • Don't use FSX materials, use standard ones instead