Chandelier Modeling Tutorial

Modeling crystals and optimizing geometry, grouping and materials.

01. Overview

In this tutorial, we will be showing you step by step how to model this product. We will be taking this product model from start to finish. You can download the model file here to check against your work.

Supplier Image

Final 3D Render

02. Collecting Information

Starting with research, you want to find out as much about what you’re trying to create before diving in and guessing. From the description on the website, you’re able to find dimensions, materials and details about what you’re trying to create. Based on what I found on the website, the supplier only has one perspective view of the product and we only have basic dimensions and the main materials to reference.

03. Blocking

a. Basic Dimensions

In 3DS Max, create a camera at a similar angle to the supplier image and a box with the overall dimensions to help block out proportions.

Render from Camera View

b. Basic Primitives

If the description of the object includes details such as crystal size, mount diameter, etc., you would match those dimensions. Here however, you don’t have those details. Assume that as details are added, proportions will have to be adjusted. Use cylinders with these values to start blocking out details.

Render from Camera View

04. Modeling – Interior Details Pt. 1

Here, instead of lengthening the center rod down further, adjust the bottom piece to stay within the overall product dimensions. Adjust dimensions as need be, In a new edit poly modifier on top of the primitive for the top piece, use inset on the top and bottom faces, delete the inner faces and in the border selection mode, bridge the loops to create a hoop. Add chamfer modifiers on each piece with appropriate values.

Render from Camera View

05. Modeling – Interior Details Pt. 2: Socket

Start adding some of the details within the chandelier. Because the inside will be covered by the crystals, these details aren’t as crucial to get exact, but these need to be modeled to display realism and functionality. Using the lathe technique demonstrated in the previous modeling tutorial, create a lightbulb socket.

06. Modeling – Interior Details Pt. 3: Lightbulb

Understanding to light bulb type in our lighting fixtures is important, as it will help you accurately depict how these products are lit and tell us which type of bulb needs to be modeled. In this case, the light bulb doesn’t necessarily need to be exact as, again, you won’t be seeing it much and the light bulbs aren’t included with the product. Add a shell of .02” for the outer amount to the light bulb and include a basic filament.

07. Modeling – Interior Details Pt. 4: Grouping

With this piece finished for now, group these three objects and name the group “lightbulb”. You will be working with a lot of objects for this product, so staying organized and optimizing selections will be important.

08. Modeling – Interior Details Pt. 5: Adjusting Pivot Point

Before using the array tool select Affect Pivot Only in the Hierarchy tab. Use the align tool found in the Tools menu (Hotkey: alt+A) to align the pivot of this group with the center of the chandelier.

09. Modeling – Interior Details Pt. 5: Arraying Group

With the lightbulb group selected, open the Array tool dialogue box under the Tools menu. Set the rotation to a total of 360 degrees and Re-Orient. Keep your arrays as instances for as long as possible. Use instances so that editing an object edits its duplicates as well, as opposed to change them all individually. Using instances helps reduce render time, as 3DS Max’s compiler only has to calculate the geometry once. The supplier image hints at 3 lights, but the description says 4, so set the Count to 4. Click Preview to show the array in the viewport.

Render from Camera View

10. Modeling – Crystals Pt. 1: Arraying Primitives

To start modeling the crystals, drag out a plane with 1.3″ for length and width. Line up the center of this plane with the center of the fixture and make sure it’s in far in front of the fixture for now. Use the Array tool with move instead of rotate and a Count of 6. Note that in the front and side views, 3DS Max interprets up and down as the Y axis, whereas in perspective, the Z axis is up and down.

11. Modeling – Crystals Pt. 2: Creating Crystal Shape

a. Add an Edit Poly modifier on top of the plane. In the vertex sub-object mode (Hotkey: 1), use the Cut tool (Hotkey: alt+C) to cut the plane into 4 triangles, clicking on one vertex and then the opposite corner’s vertex. Pull the center vertex of the triangles forward.

b. In the border sub-object mode (Hotkey: 3),
drag the border back while holding Shift to add depth of the crystal.

12. Modeling – Crystals Pt. 3: Continued

Select the top crystal and click the Make Unique button.

Select any of the crystals that are still instances and add a Symmetry modifier with the following settings. Double click the Symmetry modifier (Hotkey: 1) and move the modifier’s gizmo.

13. Modeling – Crystals Pt. 4: Modeling Connecting Rings

a. Drag out a Circle from the Spline section of the Create panel, using these settings.

b. Since these are smaller details, don’t use adaptive interpolation. The default of 6 steps provides too much faceting, so 10 steps will be enough for these.

14. Modeling – Crystals Pt. 5: Adjusting Shape

Add an Edit Spline modifier. Select the entire circle in the Spline sub-object level, and scale it inwards along the X-axis.

15. Modeling – Crystals Pt. 6: Consolidating Objects

A. Use the Array tool to duplicate the rings accordingly. Select the top crystal and Attach the other crystals. Add a Chamfer modifier to your crystals object and set it to Standard with 1 segment. Consolidate objects where you can to make them easier to select. Having one group with several objects is easier to adjust when instanced, but also causes a 3DS Max scene to lag more than one object with multiple sub-objects.

B. Attach the rings as one separate object as well.

16. Modeling – Crystals Pt. 7: Grouping Consolidated Objects

Group these two pieces together and name the group crystalSegment. Line the top crystal up with the top rim.

17. Modeling – Crystals Pt. 8: Arraying The Crystal Segments

Move the pivot point of this group to the center of the product. Use the Array tool, set to Instance with 48 for Count. Open one of the crystalSegment groups and scale down the top crystal in the Element sub-object level. Group all of the crystalSegments groups into one group called crystals.

Render from Camera View

18. Wrapping Up The Modeling

Add cylinders that line up with the top rim using the pivot point and array like so:

19. Brief Unwrapping

For certain products with distinct features like patterns, distressing or wear, you would want to unwrap those features to avoid textures stretching. One of the main materials for this product is chrome. The chrome pieces include the top and bottom rims, the mount and bolts, the center rod, and the supports for the top rim and light sockets. Hide the crystals group and unwrap the isolated pieces using a UVW Map modifier set to Cylinder with the Cap option checked on. Attach all of these objects together, name the object frame and add an Unwrap UVW modifier. Open the UV Editor and in the Edit UVWs window, select all of the faces and click Rescale Elements. This will ensure that any textures used with the chrome material will be the same scale.

In the material editor, create a VRayMaterial with a CheckerMap set to 10×10 in tiling in the Diffuse slot. Apply this to the pieces to test out the UV’s.

Checker Map Tiling set to 2

20. Material Planning

This Sku will be made of 7 different materials: Chrome, an unidentified shiny metal, light bulb glass, socket plastic, filament, crystal and frosted glass. In the material editor, create a new Multi/Sub-Object material with 7 slots and name them accordingly.

21. Material 1: Chome

Create a new VRayMaterial and name it chrome. Refer to the materials section and plug in the values for chrome. Drag the chrome V-Ray Material into the first slot of the Multi/Sub-Object Material.

22. Applying the Multi/Sub-Object Material

Select one of the chrome objects and in the Element sub-object mode, use the Polygon Material ID’s dropdown to set the entire element to the corresponding chrome material slot. Do this for all of the other chrome pieces and apply the Multi/Sub-Object material to all of the chrome pieces.

Render from Camera View

23. Adjusting The Chrome Material

Comparing the chrome material on the model versus the supplier image, the chrome material’s reflections are a bit too harsh. Material presets are a great place to start, but they will not work in every situation with default settings. Lower the RGlossiness value to soften the reflections. Also note that the reflections will vary based on the the objects surrounding environment. The reflections themselves don’t need to be exactly the same. However, the quality of the reflections needs to match.

24. Adding Realism Pt. 1

Drag a grunge map into the Material Editor and plug it into the Refl. gloss slot in the chrome material. Name any non-procedural maps with the SKU as the prefix, followed by the purpose of the texture. Set the blur to 3. With the grunge map still selected, view the texture on the material in the viewport. Because these objects are unwrapped, there is no stretching.

25. Adding Realism Pt. 2

By default, the RGlossiness map contribution in the chrome material is set to 100%. This would give the model a very dirty look. For this material, aim for lightly touched, just to add a slight imperfection. Set the RGlossiness map contribution to 5%.

26. Additional Materials Pt. 1: Light Bulb Glass

Refer to the Materials tutorial and create a basic glass material. Adjust the settings to match. Add a Falloff to the Self Illumination map slot with the following settings. Adding self illumination to the bulb will add a glow to the glass.

27. Additional Materials Pt. 2: Socket Plastic and Filament

Use the following settings to create a V-Ray Material with plastic qualities.

Use the following settings to create a VrayLight Material for the filament. Checking on the Compensate camera exposure makes the numerical color value relative to the camera settings, as opposed to an arbitrary number. Adjust each pieces PolygonMaterial ID’s to correspond with the correct material and apply the Multi/Sub-Object material to the objects.

28. Adding Sphere Lights

Drag in a V-Ray Sphere Light. In the top view, line the light up with the bulb and adjust the settings. The glowing material is fairly sensitive to light so start with a low value for the Watts Multiplier. Instance this light 3 times and line them up with our light bulbs. Switch to the front view and drag the lights up to sit inside the light bulbs.

Render from Camera View

29. Crystal Material – Pt. 1: Starting With Glass

Create a new V-Ray Material and refer to the material tutorial for basic glass. Adjust the diffuse, reflect and refract values to achieve the specific look for the crystals. Add a slight bump map using the BerconNoise procedural map. Drop the bump map contribution to 5% to add some slight irregularities / warping to the crystals. Unhide the crystal group, apply the Multi/Sub-Object material and adjust the Polygon Material ID’s. Make the Polygon ID’s on the ring objects 2.

Render from Camera View

30. Crystal Material – Pt. 2: Adding Crystal Characteristics

In some chandeliers, the crystals are actually fake crystals. It’s important to check in the product description on site to find out if the crystals are real or not, as there are different looks. This chandelier is made with real crystals so there’s an extra parameter in the material you need to address. In crystals, you can usually see rainbow reflections. Because the supplier image is fairly low resolution, you can’t see these reflections, but because the description includes real crystals, you want to add what’s called dispersion. Dispersion can be described as light splitting colors as they pass through an object. In instances where you can avoid using dispersion we choose to do so, as it can drastically increase render time and potentially crash renders. The sharpness/clarity of dispersion is adjusted with Abbe number. As you lower the Abbe number, the dispersion becomes more evident. Because you can’t clearly see the rainbow refractions in the supplier image, you only want a subtle effect. The default value of 50 will give you just the hint of dispersion that you need for this SKU. I’ve also added a render of what an Abbe number of 5 would look like. This is obviously a very extreme dispersion and takes longer to render than a higher value, so use dispersion carefully when working with crystal materials.

Left: Abbe number of 50, Right: Abbe number of 5

31. Final Material: Frosted Glass

Refer to the material section of the tutorial for frosted glass and adjust the diffuse, reflect and refract values like so. Unhide the frosted glass piece and apply the Multi/Sub-Object material appropriately:

Render From Camera View

32. Finalizing Grouping

Because there are so many small parts in this SKU, we want to consolidate objects and groups where possible. The biggest impact in this instance will be the crystals. Combined each column of crystals and rings into one object named crystalSegment. There will be a total of 48 of these objects arrayed for this SKU, so keeping these objects instanced will help save on render time. Group all of these objects and name the group crystals.

Consolidate the light bulbs into one object called lightbulb. These four objects and the VRaySphereLights will be in one group called lightbulbs.

Here is how your final SKU should be grouped. The top group is always the name of the SKU you’re making. Sub-groups are in blue and objects are in green, followed by how many of each there should be within the each group.

WHY2256 (1)

crystals (1)

crystalSegment (48)

frame (1)

lightbulbs (1)

lightbulb (4)

VraySphereLight (4)