Camera match tutorial

Photomontage renderings, if done right, can be a lot more appealing and realistic than standard architectural renderings.
The reason why this happens is that a real environment with dust, dirt, scratches and imperfections, by definition looks better than a computer generated one.

Furthermore, creating the entire scene in 3d can prove to be very time consuming, and if you are working in the architectural visualization business you know that deadlines are usually very tight and you can not afford to lose more time working on the environment than on the building.

Having said this, let’s start with the tutorial. Usually photomontages are used for exterior renderings, but in order to keep this tutorial as simple as it can be, I have chosen an interior environment.

Taking the photo
The most important thing when taking a photo that you will later use for camera match is to take as many accurate measurements as possible (you will need at least 5 reference points). Take a look at the photo below (click on it to view a higher resolution image)

As you can see, the dimensions are noted on all 3 axis (horizontal, longitudinal and vertical).

The next step is to bring the photo into 3ds max. Click on “views”, “viewport background”, or just click “alt+b” (shortcut for 3ds max 9).
Under background source, chose the image you need and select “match bitmap” under aspect ratio.

Tick “display background” and select “active only” (with the perspective viewport active).
Click the image to view a higher resolution one

Now it’s time to model some basic geometry that we will later match with the photo.
Make sure that under “units setup” in the preferences drop down menu the units are set to the same ones noted when you made the measurements (in this case, centimeters).

You don’t need to model anything fancy… just a set of planes with the same dimensions as some elements in your scene. You need a 90.5×45 cm plane for the table top, a 20×20.2 plane for the vase and another plane placed at a distance of 4.6 centimeters behind the table top for the wall.

At this point it’s time to match the points of our geometry with the ones from the photo.
With the perspective viewport activated go to “create”, “helpers”, “camera match”, “cam point”. With the snap toggle on, start creating cam points at the corners of the table top plane, and at the top corners of the plane for the vase.
Click the image to view a higher resolution one

Go to the “utilities tab” and click “camera match”. You will see the list with all the cam points you have created in the previous step.

Select cam point 01, and click “assign position”. Now click the top left corner of the table top on the background image. By doing this you will tell the software that the cam point 01 needs to be placed at the position you have indicated.
Repeat this step for all the cam points.
Click the image to view a higher resolution one

After having done this, click on “create camera”. If everything has been done correctly, this step will automatically generate a camera that matches the view of the photo.
If you place a 3d model on the 90.5×45 plane in your scene, it will appear to be on the table top when rendered.
Click the image to view a higher resolution one

General camera match advices
As I said at the beginning of the tutorial, camera match can help you create a photorealistic rendering in a shorter amount of time. However, it has a downside too; unlike a standard 3d rendering, you can not change the angle later, so it is better to take several photos of the environment and explain to the client that he needs to decide upon a view and he can not change his mind later.

Taking dimensions for an exterior photomontage can proof to be more difficult than in the example shown in this tutorial. Therefore it is good idea to have objects with standard dimensions in your photos (like lighting posts, traffic signs, etc.)

Bellow are 2 examples of photomontage renderings that I have done using this techniques (click on the images to view high resolution renderings).

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  1. jackieteh says:

    hi,i feel lucky i have found this camera match tutorial from your blog.
    currently one of my client asking me to do some camera match scene but the scene is an exterior,i have trying to use your method to apply to my exterior scene, but cannot get it right, could you please give me some guide on how to creat a camera match for exterior scene with vray physical camera?( becuase everytime when i press the creat camera button it will automatically creat the original free camera,and some more my model cannot get into the right place too. )

    please give me some help, its very urgent!

    regards and thanks in advance.

  2. I’m not aware of a method to directly create a physical camera using “camera match”. However, you can follow the exact steps show above, and after having finished, do the following:
    1) change the free camera to a targeted camera.
    2) using the snap tool, create a vray camera with it’s position and the target position to match exactly the ones of the standard targeted camera.

    I’ve heard that Lele’s vray tools can do this automatically so you can give a try

    Personally I haven’t tried that script yet, but from what I’ve been told it works fine.

    Regarding the part about the model not getting into the right place, you either don’t have enough cam points, or some of your dimensions are wrong.

    Hope this helps.
    Best regards,

  3. jackieteh says:

    Thank you very much for your guide.

    about the dimension,my client didnt give me any autocad or dimension for the model he want me to build, all he have gave me is just a 636px x 477px jpeg file with a retail stall in the jpeg file, and want me to do a new retail stall design to replace the old one.

    is that any problem or anything i have miss up from him?

  4. I can’t imagine what the client will use that image for, because the resolution is too small even for web use (not to mention print).
    You definitely need to ask for a higher resolution image…
    If you have no dimensions whatsoever, you need to look at things that are usually done at standard dimensions in that area (lighting posts, sidewalks, etc.). There isn’t another way around it, I’m afraid.

  5. jackieteh says:

    once again thanks to your reply.

    yeah, you are right, we cannot do anything without dimension just like that,finally i quit that business.and i know what should i ask for when i get similar job in the future.

  6. sam says:

    I have been trying this tutorial to find out since ages,,
    there you go.
    this is a great help and the way you have describe, I feel it so understanding and logical.. keep it up mate and thanks.

  7. I’m glad it helped you.
    Thanks for visiting!

  8. Lucas says:

    The tutorial is great and very easy to follow. Thanks a lot.

    There is only one thing I don’t understand. How can I make a shadow like the one you have applied to your ball on the table?

  9. Lucas says:

    I have found out that by applying a matte/shadow material to the plane created before you can get the shadow but I don’t know how to create reflections in the objects in the photo.

  10. Hello Lucas,

    Good question regarding the reflections.
    Whenever I need reflections in a situation similar to the one above, I do a separate rendering just for the reflection and composite everything in photoshop.
    I could never obtain correct reflections on a matte plane directly from the render.

    Thanks for the visit and hope to see you around here more often.

    Best regards,

  11. Lucas says:

    Thank you for answering Alex, you have a good blog, it’s nice.

    What method do you use in order to merge the renders in photoshop?

  12. Thanks for appreciation!
    Regarding the compositing, I rendered the blue ball on a white plane with the desired reflection parameters; than I bring both (the rendering and the reflection pass) in photoshop and place the reflection pass in a layer above the other one (with “multiply” as blending mode).
    Finally I make some adjustments erasing parts of this layer with a soft brush.
    That’s about it.

    A more straight forward method would be to use the reflection pass in render elements and save it to png… but I wasn’t to happy with the results…

  13. Marie says:

    Hi Alex
    thank you for the tutorial, you just made my day!

  14. Daniel says:

    I realy good point to point out (pardon the pun) would be to make sure you click create camera then click modify camera ‘over and over’ as I have found just clicking it once does not create the match. Sounds simple but I could work out why I couldnt get a match and this was the reason. Why it has to be this way I do not know.

  15. k2 says:

    Hi, thanks to have your useful tutorial. I bumped into a problem. Objects made in 3ds such as the table top and vase shown in your tutorial always appear smaller than them in the background image in a viewport. I tried to do this excercise with your image and the other photo, but I haven’t got a correct rsult so far… Can you give me a tip?

  16. Fakharsinbox says:

    Hi, thanks for the tutorial, need to know one thing…how you measure the distance like you mention in your image as close as possible?

  17. Ashur says:

    Thank you buddy. That is really help, it was so understandable. You are awesome.

  18. Gutbucket says:

    Got a quick question concering camera matching. How would you go about matching an aerial photograph when there is no Z data available? I do have GIS so I can measure ground distances.

  19. Abdulla says:

    this really helpful tutorial man !! I like it

  20. Andy says:


    Just Wondering how you actually do the EXTERIOR photomontage?
    Like do you use the Survey plan to create camera points? or do you go to the actual site an get your tape measure out an measure from the point you are taking the picture from?

    Sorry, im just very new to this and have to do my first photomontage soon for my boss. bit unsure

  21. Hello guys,

    Sorry for the late reply.
    @ Andy – Ideally you should go on site and take the photo yourself. This way you can measure everything you need. However, in my case that isn’t always possible so I use survey plans or any data I can get my hands on.

    @Gutbucket – Even in aerial photos you can take the Z data from nearby buildings, lighting poles, etc.

    @K2 – I am sure that you are missing something but I can’t figure out what it is. Have you followed each step of the tutorial?

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