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By mwilchrlx
Hey guys,
I wanted to share some of the progress I've had lately rendering cloud formations with maxwell. The density data is very primitive at the moment, so Im only really focusing on the shading model. Im combining several BSDFs to attempt to realistically mimic the complex phase function that real clouds exhibit. Of course, I'm still in the process of stress testing it, but is seems to work for most density, incident ray and camera ray variations.

render times at 2400x1200 are about 1 hour, although the image is 80% clean after about 20 mins.. I just let them cook without really paying attention after that. All data is generated in houdini, assembled in Maya, and rendered in maxwell 3.2. The only "compositing" I'm doing here is a little film grain (which is high at the moment, so sorry), the contact sheet and some very light tonal curves.

By mwilchrlx
Once I'm done with a wider stress test of various types of clouds, I'll definitely put together a tutorial.
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By Mihai
That would be awesome. Really impressed by these cool these would look animated....I would also really like to know how difficult it is to set up the simulation in Houdini and calculation time for these (not for the render I mean).

You're using SSS materials? Strong blue forward scattering? :D
By mwilchrlx
thanks a lot!,
The houdini part is a custom set of tools that I use to build clouds specifically. They do animate, but this is specific instance is a static solver and took about 15 mins to set up. The VDB is quite small as well, 10mb on disc (a few million voxels in total). These renders are using instances of a single cloud "snippet". I prefer to assemble in maya, even though there is no VDB preview in viewport (which I would LOVE!). Im also using a single maxwell prim cube to simulate regional atmospheric density shifts (the thicker blue at the bottom of some of the frames). Both the clouds and atmospheric pocket are using a custom material I've made to specifically render clouds. I'm using very little of maxwell's actual scattering attribute. Im trying to follow Beer's law, so it's more about transmission and absorption, although the scattering is indeed very important for the realism.
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By Hervé
Thumbs up.. I did clouds in the past using particles from Realflow, but yours are so cool :)
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By Rafal SLEK
By mwilchrlx
I think I'll give that a shot!!... although, I might need to tweak the contrast in post to get such dramatic edges. Here's a few more test scenes.



Texture/finish lost in render.


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