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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.
NURBS objects generally begin from a Curve, or a Spline. Now, you can create NURBS, Curves, and Splines directly, but you will find that most of the time you are going to get better results and more predictable results if you start from the traditional Bezier Spline Objects or Shapes and then convert them to NURBS. But I will show you how to make NURBS Curves directly, just quickly. In the Create panel, under Shapes, you will see there's the category of Splines, but there is also NURBS Curves.
And within the 3ds Max implementation of NURBS, you have two different flavors of NURBS objects, a so- called Point Curve or CV Curve. So a Point Curve has points that lie on the curve. So I am just clicking here to create them. Right-click to exit. So with the Point Curve, if we go into the Modify panel and open up the Sub-Object Types, you will see Points. And I have got my Snaps turned on, so I will turn those off. And you can see the Point lies on the curve.
And it's unlike the standard Bezier Splines, because we don't have any adjustable tangent handles. Now, I don't really use these Point Curves that much, because as you see, as I move this around, it's actually having an undue effect on the entire curve in this case. So when I move this one point around, it's actually changing everything. Now, I can convert a Point Curve to a CV Curve, but that process is kind of problematic, because it's actually going to change the shape of the curve. So I would advice actually using the CV Curve Creation Tool instead.
Right-click to complete that curve, and the when I go into the Modify panel, you will see we have CVs. And the Control Vertex usually lies off the curve. And this is a little bit easier for me to control. So this is how I can create these NURBS Curves from scratch, by just drawing them out. But if you wanted to create something like that cocktail table we saw, then you would want to start from a Bezier Spline and convert it. So I am going to do that. I am going to work in Metric units, so I will go to my Customize menu and to Units Setup, and I will choose Metric with Centimeters.
And then right-click on my Snaps to go to the Home Grid, and I will set a Grid Spacing of 10.0cm, with Major Grid Lines every 100, and then a Perspective View Grid Extent of 200 centimeters. Remembering that this is multiplication here, I am getting a Minor Grid Line every 10 centimeters, a Major Grid Line every 10x10, or 1 meter, and then I have got a Perspective View of 20x10, or 200 centimeters, or 2 meters from center to edge.
So I am going to create my cocktail table in the Top View, the base of the cocktail table. And what I will do is I will go to the Create panel. So I will create standard Bezier Splines and then convert them to Bezier. Cool! So what can I do here? I can make a line, and I will Snap. Make a straight line. Right-click to exit that. I can make a arc, and why don't I Snap to Points? Let me maximize this with Alt+W. I will right-click on my Grid and Snap Settings, and instead of Snapping to Grid Points, I can Snap to Vertex.
So that when I position my cursor here, I can Snap that arc exactly to that location. So I am going to go over here, select a point here, release the mouse, and then drag out to create that arc. Click to create the arc. And then I want a smaller arc over here. Release the mouse and drag out to set that other arc. Click to create the arc. And then I also want to create a line from here to here.
So I go to Line, and I still have Snap to Vertex turned on. Click once. Click twice, and then right-click to exit. So I am just going to clean this up by attaching all these parts together. Go to the Modify panel, go to Attach, and click the different pieces to attach them all to one. And then I just want to adjust this a little bit. I want to weld these two points together, clean that up, weld all the parts together. So I will select by Vertex.
I have got two vertices here. Turn of the Attach Tool. And then I will just weld those together. So I have got a Weld Tool here and a Threshold. If those two points are closer together than this value, then they will be welded. So that one is welded. This one here, I might need to actually Snap that over. Select those two and weld them as well. Up here too, I just need to seal everything up tight, because I want this to be a single unbroken Spline.
So looks like that's all one piece here now, and I can verify that by going into Spline mode and click here and see, is that one piece? Yes, it is. Go back to Vertex mode and turn off my Snaps, and I just want to move this around a little bit. Just shape this up a little bit better. You will see that this is a Bezier Corner Vertex. I just want to right-click and convert that to a Bezier, not Bezier Corner. That's important, because the NURBS object, when I convert this to NURBS, if it sees a Bezier Corner, then it's actually going to split it into two different parts.
So I need to make sure that these are all Bezier and not Bezier Corner. So I am actually going to draw a big rectangle around all those and then right-click and choose Bezier and do any final cleanup necessary to just straighten this out. So now I have got a single unbroken Spline that's made out of all Bezier Points and no Bezier Corners. And that's important, because if I have Bezier Corner Points, then when I try to build my NURBS objects, it's actually going to be split into parts here.
So I have got the basic shape, and then I am going to convert this to a NURBS Curve. Just right-click and choose Convert To > Convert to NURBS, and now it's a NURBS Surface. You will see it says NURBS Surface. But ironically, it's not a surface yet. It's actually still a Spline Curve. But the way that NURBS work in 3ds Max is that a NURBS object can contain curves and/or surfaces. And the name up here. It may say NURBS Surface.
It may say NURBS Curve at the top level, but that's not an indicator of what's really going on inside the object. So you will see it's a NURBS Surface, but the only Sub-Object Types within it are Curve CV and Curve. So don't let that confuse you. There's only one type of NURBS object in 3ds Max, and it might be called a NURBS Surface. It might be called a NURBS Curve. That's not relevant. All that matters is what types of Sub-Objects do we have inside it? And currently I have a Curve but no Surfaces just yet.
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