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Itoo Software has shared a tutorial by Mickael Riciotti, environment artist at Unit Image in Paris, dedicated to creating detailed sand with 3ds Max, V-Ray and Forest Pack Pro (IToo’s scattering plugin for 3ds Max).
The guide focuses on using Forest Pack’s “Forest Color” map features along with various optimization tricks to recreate sand macro-photography. Extreme close ups on a grainy surface like sand may lead to displacement map’s stretching , so the trick is to increase the subdivision substantially to get the amount of details you need. Also, you should have separate geometry for each grain of sand to deal with scattering light and bring far more realism to your image.
The results are amazing! Make sure to read the guide on building detailed sand here.