Create Realistic 3D Picture Frames in 3DS Max and Mental Ray

January 11, 2010 in 3D, AutoDesk 3DSMax, Featured by admin

Realistic Picture Frames And Wall Art In 3D
( Autodesk 3dsmax 2010 and Earlier)

Welcome to this educational session of 3D Design. In this session we will create a realistic set of Picture Frames / Wall Art in Autodesk 3dsmax 2010 and Mental Ray. Most of the educational aspects of this tutorial can be transferred to other 3D applications easily.

Author: Ryan W. Knope

Ryan W. Knope is a freelance 3D / 2D Artist / Consultant with 13 years experience in the 3D and 2D industry. His main artistic love lies with interior and exterior rendering although he takes on just about every type of graphics work. Ryan is also the architectural / interior voice for 3D Artist Magazine’s Question and Answer Panel. He lives with his wife Krista, in sunny Denver, Colorado.

Tutorial Details

  • Programs: Autodesk 3dsmax 2010
  • Difficulty: Easy (Prior Knowledge of Software Interface is a plus.)
  • Main 3dsmax File:

Step 1: Deciding The Type Of Frame You Need

Deciding what type of frame and picture you need is the first step. You should pick a style that matches your environment or the room interior design. It is all about matching styles throughout, everything should compliment each other. Use your artistic eye to make the decision. It will do you well to study frame styles for at least a few minutes by typing picture frames into Google.

Step 2: Dissecting The Frame

I have picked a semi ornate classical frame for this tutorial. Below you can see the finished render along with the dissected version of the frame. The 4 objects below make up the completed frame, minus the picture and the matte.

Step 3: Starting With A Chamfer Box

Create a chamfer box with a 3 segment fillet. Below on the left you can see what we are creating. On the right you can see the step we have taken currently.


Step 4 – Scale Down The Front Face Just A Bit

Select your chamfer box and add an edit poly modifier. Go to "Face Mode" and select your front face. Scale this face down slightly.


Step 5 – Using The Bevel Tool

Scroll down through edit poly and find the "Bevel" button. Click the button and the dialogue box shown below will pop up. This brings the face in while scaling it down slightly. The outer rim of the frame is now complete


Step 6 – Creating The Inner Rim

You could create this object the same way as the main piece, although this is essentially the same object, just tweaked a bit. Instead, to make this object fit our needs we will edit the vertices with edit poly. When cloning the 1st object make sure not to use "Instance", use copy instead.


Step 7 – Pin Line Ridges

The pin line ridges are quite easy to create. I simply used renderable splines to add this detail. On the left you can see the 3 splines in blue and their placement in the middle. You can find my spline setting below as well.

Go to Create > Shapes > Rectangle and drag out the spline to match your placement. Then turn on "Enable In Renderer" and "Enable In Viewport."

The wood parts of your frame are now complete.


Step 8 – Creating The Matte

For starters, create a renderable spline (Rectangular) that matches your open window edge. Make sure to use 4 sided and an angle of .45. You should have something similar to what is below.


Step 9 – Scale In The Matte – Thickness

Scale your matte object in so that it is not as thick as what was originally created.


Step 10 – Chamfering Your Matte

Apply an edit poly modifier to your matte object. Under Edit Poly, go to "Edge Mode. Select all of the front inside edges and click the chamfer edge button. You can see the values that I used below. This creates the angle cut that mattes often have. Now you can move it into location, fitting it inside the frame just before it hits the backer.


Step 11 – Your Picture Object

Create a plane and place it inside the matte object as seen below. Now our modeling is finished and we can begin the texturing process.


Step 12 – Adding Materials

I am using Mental Ray as my rendering engine, so with that in mind, I will be using Arch + Design materials throughout the rest of the tutorial. Press M to bring up the material editor.

In the first material, add your painting image map to the diffuse slot. If you are using an Arch + Design material, make sure you turn the Reflectivity and Glossiness all the way down. Apply this to your painting / picture object.

Select your matte object and create a new material without any reflectivity or glossiness. Change the diffuse color to white or whatever color you prefer.

Select all of your wood frame objects. Next, under the modify panel drop down locate UVW Map and apply it to the selected set. Set it to box and click "Fit to object". Create a new Arch + Design material and use the setting shows below, add your wood image map into the "Diffuse" slot and apply the should now have a fully textured picture frame.

With the materials you could even go a step further. If your painting is to an an original, you could add bump to signify levels of paint. If your wood is to be a bit rougher and less smooth, bump will also aid in that.


Step 13 – Render Settings

I will not go into render settings during this tutorial. You can check out details on setting up a MR Sun and SKY lighting and rendering set up HERE. I may create a tutorial soon of different quick lighting rigs. Only time will tell.


Step 14 – Reflection

You can create just about any frame with this method. If you look into edit poly a bit more, you could create very ornate wall art. I hope this tutorial has helped you get down the basics of creating a simple but pretty picture frame. The full 2010 3dsmax file has been supplied. So if you run into any trouble, it will definitely help to dissect it.