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Gmax - Rendering

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Oki, this actually isn't a strictly BF2 related tutorial and while to some this might be just stating the plain obvious, I still thought that somebody might appreciate this, it sure makes posting Gmax WIP - pics a whole lot nicer looking that those crappy low-res pics you can take out straight from the prog :P

So, as everyone working with Gmax have probably noticed, there is no built-in renderer in Gmax, thus we have to find out a way to do it externally.

For this tutorial you will need the following:

-Gmax 1.2

-MD3 exporter plugin for Gmax

-3dExploration or some other program that recognizes .MD3 files and can render them

Chapter I - First things first

-As you know, on top of the fact that gmax hasn't got any rendering capabilities, it's export capabilities are very limited also. Because of this, we'll need to change that. The easiest way is to get this plugin and put it in your /gmax/plugins folder

-Now that we've got that covered, we need a program that can decipher .MD3 files. My personal program-of-choise is a program called 3dExploration. The thing is that the program's development has been discontinued and there is no download link for it in the company site.

Grab it here: here (5.1mb)

Ok, now we're set

Chapter II - Gmax

-Ok, I assume at this point that you have a mode. The most important thing to remember is that when you want export with the plugin, the textures have to be in .tga - format

-The next limitation is: mesh size - the plugin will complain if the mesh is too big, the easy remedy is just to scale down your mesh.


-Ok, we're ready to move on, now in gmax select: "File -> Export ...", choose a filename and make sure that the format is "Quake 3 (*.MD3)

Hit "Save" and a dialog will open.

*"The following frames" - field enter "0"

*You will probably soon enough find out that the plugin will complain about several things, these including: no uvmapping on some particular objects, mesh too big etc. When you're exporting your model for the first time, it's a good idea to keep this checked, but in the future if you for example just want to check out what does the partially textured model look in HQ etc., you can uncheck this, as the model gets exported despite the uvmap warnings. At this point, your screen should not be much dissimiliar to this:


Ok, we're good. Now we move on to 3Dex

Chapter III - Rendering in 3dExploration

-Ok, this is the easy part as the program is really quite easy to use.

-Using the progams built-in folder explorer, manouver yourself to the location of the .MD3 - file you just created. Open it up and you should see it in the 3D view.

-If you're not seeing textures on the mesh there are two possible causes: you've used the wrong format, they have to be in .tga as I mentioned, or for some reason the textures are disabled in 3dEx. To check this posibility out, make sure that you've got "Show Textures" checked and "Use default material" unchecked under "Render -> Material"

The actual rendering happens via a button above the 3D preview screen:


You can either select "Z-buffer AA x 2" for a very quick render that shows the textures in HQ or for more detailed rendering with shadows and such you can use the raytrace renderer. Fiddle around with it's options to spesify the exact quality settings.

Even though the mesh I used for this tutorial really isn't the best possible as it really doesn't bring out the best advantages of HQ rendering you can still see there is a major difference, here's a render of the mesh with raytrace rendering @ maximum settings:


Here's a few tips and tricks for further 3dEx usage:

-You can make your render look a lot different with different light conditions, in 3dEx, go to "Render -> Lights" to change them. The render above was with "Colored Lights 2"

-Press F11 for fullscreen

-You can render straight to an image file via "File -> Render to file ...", settings are pretty self-explainatory

-You can now save your file in various different formats, just use "Save as" and you can save your file in pretty much all major formats.


That's about it, comments, feedback and suggestions would be highly appreciated. I'd especially like to hear of different rendering programs as 3dEx is basically a buried, discontinued, trial program :roll:

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I keep having this problem:


and then gmax shuts down. Although it made the exported the file it seems to be corrupt and the renderer wont open it.

So when does this exactly happen? The moment you hit "Export" (aka. the second image in my first post) or some other time? Have you tried doing it with different objects? Also; you do have the the ExportMD3.dle in your xxgmaxpluginsExportMD3.dle, right? Not in xxgmaxgamepacksBattlefield2plugins?

If the plugin in fact is in the right place, have you tried exporting with the regular gmax setup (Not with the "Battlefield 2 Game Tools game pack")?

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