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In 3ds Max 2011 Essential Training, author Aaron F. Ross demonstrates how to use this top-tier application for digital content creation, widely used in diverse industries such as architecture, industrial design, motion pictures, games and virtual worlds. This course covers modeling with polygons, curves, and subdivision surfaces, defining surface properties with materials and maps, setting up cameras and lights, animating objects, and final output rendering. Exercise files accompany the course.
So this is looking pretty good, but we really want some more subtlety to this shape here, so that it's got some nice tapering organic form to it. Currently, I only have two shapes. Now I could add more shapes if I wished. For example, I could add a lot of circles here and change all their radii, so I could get different shapes and forms going on through here, but that would not be an efficient way of doing this because the loft object has deformation channels built-into it.
That means that we can do things like cause the overall form here to change in size as it travels down the path. So I can still go back to my circle and adjust the radius here, but if I want greater control here, I am going to want to add a scale deformation to the loft. So I'll select the loft object and at the bottom of the Modifier panel, you will see a rollout that says Deformations. You can open that up.
Now, I want to warn you. You are going to be tempted maybe to go in here and try to turn all these things on and see what they do. You're not going to be able to figure out how they work by just playing. You are actually going to have to read the documentation. The only one in here that's really obvious is Scale and that's the one I'm going to use now. But I just give you a word to the wise, these Bevel and Fit and Teeter, that's not terribly intuitive what's going on there, so you are going to want to look at the Help documentation for further information on those.
But Scale is pretty straightforward, so I can add a scale deformation by just clicking the Scale button and two things happened. I get a dialog opening up, a little graph, and I also get a little lightbulb turning on here that tells me that it's now active. So what is this graph? Okay, let me position things on the view a little bit, move that around so I can see this better. This is a graph of the size of the shapes as they travel down the path.
On the left-hand side of the graph is the beginning of the path. So this is 0% along the path, and the right-hand side is 100% along the path. So the horizontal dimension is distance along the path normalized from 1 to 100. The vertical dimension is the scale of the shapes as they travel down the path, and you'll see here it's currently set to 100% and I've got control points here and I've got a Move Control Point tool. So that tool is active.
I can go ahead and click on one of these points and move it and you can see what's happening here now. It's tapering down, so it'll be smaller and thinner at the beginning of the path. So this is pretty cool. By the way, you'll also notice these dashed lines here. These are supposed to indicate the position of shapes along the path, but it's not always terribly accurate because as you can see here, we've got more lines than we have shapes. I can zoom in here a little bit. I've got a Zoom tool.
I'll just expand that a little bit, and I can work with the shape to get different results. So I need more points on here and just as with editable splines, I've got a couple of different types of points. Here I really only got two types. I've got Corner and Bezier, and I can choose which I want from this little flyout here. So if I want to add a Bezier point, I'll hold my mouse down on this flyout and choose Bezier Point and then click somewhere to create a Bezier point, so I can create two of those.
Then I can go back to manipulating the shape of the curve with the Move Control Point tool. So you can see we can get pretty good results here pretty quickly. This is a lot easier than adding a whole bunch of circles and trying to get them the right size. Of course, I can also adjust these Bezier handles. Again, as with editable spline Bezier points, you may run into a situation where you have an uneven length to the handles.
And if you want to sort of zero that out, what you can do is you can right-click on that control point, convert it to Corner, and then convert it back to Bezier-Smooth. And that will give those equal tangent lengths. Right-click > Corner, Right-click > Bezier-Smooth. Of course, if I wanted a break in here, just like with editable spline, I could hold down Shift and break that, or I can right-click and convert to Bezier-Corner, either way.
But in this case, I want them to be Smooth. Cool! So what I really want here is I want it to actually taper a little bit at the bottom. Instead of having a flat bottom, I'd like to have a little bit of curvature down there. So what I want here is this endpoint to be a Bezier-Corner point. So I right-click on that, Bezier- Corner, and now I've got that nice tapered effect at the bottom.
And that's pretty nice. That's how I can use a scale deformation to customize the shape a loft and without resorting to adding a lot more shapes.
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