What is it?
The Background node is a parameter where you can create a Sky and/or Ground backdrop for your world. This is different than just setting a background color, because with the Ground specifications, a horizon is created which then gives a worldly feel so that your VRML objects are not simply floating around in space. For more details about this node, check out the VRML 2.0 Spec

Create the scene and add Cameras

1) First create a scene with all the objects, materials and NavigationInfo that are needed. To the right, we have created a simple world for you to use as an example.

2) NOTE: The placement of the 'Background' node does not depend on any other VRML node. Therefore you can specify these parameters anytime after your world is created.

3) Next it is a good idea to add at least one 'Camera' which will be a 'Viewpoint' in the VRML file, but the file will still work without Viewpoints. NOTE: The more Viewpoints the better in VRML files. The different browsers have various navigation abilities and restraints, therefore the Viewpoints are the one consistent way the user can view the file.

4) To add a Camera, go to the Creation panel/press the 'Camera' button and Choose 'Target' as the Object Type.

5) With your mouse, drag the Camera in the 'Top' viewport and stretch it out.

6) To view what the Camera is seeing, go to the Perspective viewport and press 'c' on the keyboard. And there you are from the Cameras point of view.

7) The Camera is easy to adjust with the Move and Rotate buttons, so test them out.

8) Also it is good to name your Cameras. The Camera name is what the user sees in the VRML browser as the name of the Viewpoint. Otherwise it will default to Camera01, Camera02 etc. Which is pretty boring, if you have a great viewpoint to show off.

9) Viewpoints help tell a story in the VRML file, because you can lead the viewer to ideal viewing points of the model which they might not otherwise explore.

How to implement the Background node into a MAX file:

10) Now for the Background node, go to the 'Creation' panel and choose 'Helpers'. Under 'Helpers' use the pull down the menu and choose VRML 2.0. Then choose the Object Type 'Background'.

11) Then go to your scene and drag the mouse anywhere. You will see an icon that signals to you that you have placed the Background node.

12) A panel for the Sky, Ground, and Image parameters will roll out. Please note that, as of this writing, there is no known browser that supports setting an Image as the Background, so it is not gone into detail here.

13) The Sky is actually an infinite sphere that holds the objects. In the Sky panel there is:
  • Colors-you can choose 1, 2 or 3 colors. Click on the color patch to modify it to your color choice with the 3DSMax Material Editor.
  • Angle-color 1 is the base color and the 2nd and the 3rd colors merge at the base of an angle off the North Pole (straight up from the browser). Try playing around with multiple colors to see a blending effect, but 1 color still does the trick.
14) The parameter's for the Ground are the same as with the Sky. Except that the angle of the 2nd and 3rd colors merge off at an angle coming from the opposite end, at the South pole. Therefore if you want more than one color, you must specify the angle for these.

15) In the Images box you can define a set of images with .gifs or .jpegs by specifying the URLs. --panorama style for the Background.

16) In the Icon Size box, you can designate a larger or smaller icon size for the Background node---but this is only for the MAX file and has no bearing on the VRML file.

17) Now you have entered all possible information for the 'Background' node. If you need to go back, after leaving the Creation panel, and alter any of the parameters, then go to the 'Modify' panel and adjust.

18) Now you have completed implementing a Background into your file!

19) To check, go to the 'Selection' menu and look for it! NOTE: You can name your Background node in MAX in the 'Name' field.
How to Export MAX files to VRML:

20) Now move on over to 'File' and choose 'Export'. The Exporter knows that you are referring to the file that is open and requests that you name your file.

21) So first choose '.wrl' filetype Then name your file, i.e. 'SuchAndSuch.wrl'

22) Suggestion: Because you might need to go back to the MAX file and adjust part of your world, it is a good idea to keep the filename between to two files the same.
23) Check out a more elaborate sample file that demonstrates the Background node.