Then I wanted the pearls to have a subsurface scattering behaviour. I found the Shellac material to be the best solution for me. I could easily set a value of how much I think the pearls should brighten up if light comes from behind.
The pillow combines actually two materials: an undetailed one from far and a close-up material.
The close-up material is only visible within the area around the crown (see mask). It features a more detailed pattern which is tiled. Otherwise, it’s the same material.
Both materials use a Falloff material in the diffuse and reflection slot which is pretty much standard for cloth materials as I think. As you can see, (or maybe not) I made use of the ambient occlusion map again in the second slot in the Falloff material. This provides a certain dusty or worn-off effect.Lighting and Rendering
In 3ds Max scene I used a funnel-shaped ground plane / background as I wanted to be able to look at the crown from every point of view without seeing any edges. I used 4 different lights to light out the scene: 2 big planar and 2 spherical Vray lights.
I wanted it to have a slightly mysterious flair, so the big planar Vray light from behind was by far the strongest. It shines through the stones and lights up the pearls that face away from the camera. The other big planar Vray light is located behind the camera in direction of the area in front of the crown. It’s only supposed to light it up a bit.
The other 2 spherical lights are meant to put a bit of atmosphere in the scene. One is slightly red/orange, the other one blue. The camera is a Vray physical cam.
The distance between the focal planes is important for the adjustment of the Depth of Field. Rendering was done using Global Illumination which took me pretty much time to calculate...