First of all, let me relinquish any credit for this tip. The idea for this post was sparked by another BB, the famous Benjamin Brosdau, in a forum discussion on how to achieve the best-looking shag carpet (I’ve long been baffled by the realism of Ben’s carpets).
Ben suggested creating small fibre elements and scattering them on a high-res mesh using R&D Group’s MultiScatter – essentially the dominant workflow for grass these days. This post is about how I created the image below using another 3ds Max plugin, namely the excellent Forest Pack by Itoo Software.
The first step was to create the element to be scattered. Using splines and a bend modifier, I first modelled a few distinct carpet fibres. Then, I used the AdvancedPainter script to distribute these four or five strands into a small carpet patch (make sure you use the “copy” option in AdvancedPaint and not “instance”) and merged these strands into one small object.
You can model your own patch, indeed you should if you’re after a very special look. But for a quick test, you can download this patch for free from my TurboSquid model store.
The next step was to create the carpet’s base mesh. Mine was a cylinder with grooves, a few levels of Turbosmooth and a noise modifier for some randomness. Make sure your carpet is one-sided only – you don’t want to scatter fibres below it (well, no-one will notice if you do, but it would be a waste of resources, wouldn’t it).
The last step was to create the Forest Pack object by selecting the bald carpet as target object and the patch as the scatter object. Here are the settings for the image at the top. All settings not shown here were left at their default values. I used the Pro version of Forest Pack for this. You may be able to approximate the results with the free version, which only allows object to be scattered on flat surfaces.
This is a pretty basic setup, but as you can see, it works quite nicely and looks even better from a certain distance. Of course, this won’t be applicable to all sorts of carpets. Hair systems or image-based displacement may work better in some circumstances, but for the kinds of dense shag carpets you see in most furniture catalogues these days, it seems to be the best approach.