Welcome to this tutorial on making a chrome material and using an HDR image in V-Ray. To complete this tutorial you will need 3DS Max with V-Ray 1.5.
The first thing we need to do is create an object that we will apply our chrome material to, in my case I made a simple teapot. Add a camera to the scene too.
Create a normal V-Ray material. (Open up the material editor and change the first material in the material editor to a VrayMtl). Rename this material "chrome"
We can leave the Diffuse colour of the chrome material grey, as chrome(chromium) seems to be a steely-grey colour in reality (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromium). It doesn't really matter what colour we make the Diffuse channel though, because we are going to make it so reflective, (in the next step), that it's colour will come from whatever it reflects in the environment around it.
Change the reflect colour to pure white (maximum reflectivity)
Change the reflection subdivs to 16 to increase the quality of the reflections.
The material looks like it has disappeared, because it's reflecting the grey background around the sphere in the material editor, so let us change the background of the material editor for our chrome material
Add the chrome material to our teapot by "dragging and dropping" it from the material editor onto the teapot
If we were to render the scene now, we would see nothing because the chrome material would reflect the black background of the 3D environment around it, so everything would be black. Also, there is no light in the scene. So to fix that we are going to add an HDRI to the scene. There is a great collection of free HDRI's at www.openfootage.net
I downloaded this one called OpenfootageNEtHDRCow_small.hdr at www.openfootage.net, but you can use any HDRI.
In the material editor, load a VRayHDRI map into a free slot.
Load the HDRI that we downloaded , and choose "spherical environment" from the map type options. I have also renamed the name of the VRayHDRI map to "HDRI". You can call it anything at all, I like to name all my maps and materials, in case someone else has to work with my max file. It just makes it easier for them, especially if you work in an office/studio environment.
Now click go to the 3ds max menu bar and chose Rendering>Render>and then choose the V-Ray tab.
Open the V-Ray::Environment section, and drag and drop the VrayHDRI map to the GI Environment (Skylight) overide. (This controls the lighting of the scene)
Drag and drop the VrayHDRI map to the Reflection/Refraction overide. (This controls the reflection and refraction of the scene :-) )
Click Render and render the scene.
Congratulations, you have now finished this tutorial on creating a chrome material with V-Ray, and you have learnt the basics of using an HDRI in V-Ray too!
Please note that there are many ways to use an HDRI in V-Ray, and this tutorial shows just one way. Also, when you have a chrome material in your max scene, it is important that you always have something for it to reflect, otherwise it will not look realistic.
JG3D has moved and is now at http://www.jg3d.net/