How would you..... Light mapping, 3ds Max 2014


Hey all,

How would you map the shading on a vehicle interior? Such as a car or airplane (airplane)?

Ambient Occlusions do not always work well. I would love to have the interior shaded/shadowed by light coming in the windows.

I have heard of light mapping, but couldnt get it to work right. Does someone have an idea how to create brilliant shading on vehicle interiors that act like but are far more superior then Ambient Occlusions?

This is for making light map textures which will then be mixed into Textures. Gaming (simulation) work, Flight Simulator X and Prepar3D type of stuff. Not pure renderings but for texture layers.

A thousand thanks for any advice.



That really mostly depends on what maps the target application expects in what format. How much of the lighting should be handled in realtime? If you don’t have a separate input for AO, it will always look funky in some situations, and if a specific form of lightmap is required, this usually would be rendered in the target application. If you want to recreate that in Max, you 'd first need to know exactly what kind of lightmap you need. You could look into using tools like Flatiron, take a look at RTT elements of the renderers available to you (or create your own, e.g by rendering with white materials) and take a look at how renders are composited from different render elements.


Thanks Noren for the input. I hadnt heard of Flatiron, just checked out their site. A bit pricey right at the moment, and dont know if they can do what I need.

Basically I am creating shading in the textures. I usually do this with AO’s. I just place them in the PSD stack in my textures. The sim (FSX and Prepar3D) have their own shading systems. I do not have to worry about that.

With AO’s, sometimes area’s that should be dark, come out very lite. There must be better ways…

I am presently using Max 2014 with Mental Ray nVidia version.



You could try using a lightdome or skylight or simply make the casting distance of your AO a lot longer. (If this is about areas deep in the interior being too light). If it’s about detail shadows you could try toying with the width/angle of the cone of your AO and if you’d like more directionality, you’d have to use skylight, lightdome or other lights.(Rendered with a white material if you want to multiply it in PS, using grey if you want to do an overlay and add additional lighting as well). But a long enough AO should also introduce some directionality in e. g. a plane cockpit.
Obviously textures darkened this way will be dark even if a light shines on them, so you might have the opposite problem you are facing now.

While you are technically mapping light, this usually isn’t called light mapping btw. Lightmapping is when you have a second texture set (most often in combination with a second UV set) that is used to shade the scene in realtime and nowadays different engines have some tricks up their sleeves to incorporate and mix that with realtime lights and shadows, normal maps etc.


Many thanks, Noren.

True on the light mapping. It is more shadow mapping, not light.

Someone had told me that they use Light Mapping to do their AO’s and I could never get it to work. Thats why I started out with that direction in this thread.


I think there is a RTT element called light map, so maybe they were referring to that.


Thanks Noren. I’ll check that out.


There is… I remember this. Instead of making an Ambient Occlusion map, you can render a Light Map. I then put it in the Multiply type layer in my texture. Its similar but different to a AO map. But it needs tuning. That is what I need to know is how to handle lights.

I’ll paruse through YouTube and see if I can find something on architectural interiors. Something like car interior renderings and baking in things like AO maps is what I need, something more realistic then existing AO maps.

I can ‘stack’ quite a few AO maps in the layers in the texture, as well as darken them via their settings (darkness, etc). But its not the same as I need the foot wells and corners to be darker.