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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.
I've got my first NURBS Curve, and in order to create the interesting design here, I need to have a least two curves, because I want to basically fill in the blanks between those two curves to make a surface, and that's what traditionally known as a loft. Now in 3ds Max the term loft is a little bit different than in most programs. A loft requires that there be a path as well, but within NURBS if I want to join two curves together, I don't need a path to do that, and I will use what is called a U Loft surface to do that.
So in order to prepare for this I need it least two curves. So I can create another curve in a couple of different ways. I can make a duplicate of this one, but it might be more fun for me to use an Outline curve or an Offset curve. I'll do both actually. I'll go here to Curve sub-object mode and select that curve, and I'll make it duplicate just by holding down Shift and dragging up, and I get a dialog box prompting me, do you want an Independent Copy or do you want a Transform Object? And an Independent Copy is one that bears no connection to the original curve.
A Transform Object is basically an instance or an identical copy, but I want this to be an Independent Copy. So I'll OK, because now I can scale that and move it around. Go to my Top View, right-click there and scale this down and move it in order to center it. We'll scale it down a little bit more, and I'm happy with that, and the next thing I want to do is I want to make another copy that's offset from this, or basically an outline so it will have the same thickness all around.
So to illustrate this, if I made another copy of this, let's say I held down Shift and then scaled to make another copy, you'll see that we don't have a consistent thickness. There is no consistent outline here. So that's not what I want to do in this case. I want to create an Offset curve. In order to do this on I need to exit out of Curves sub-object mode. So this is one of the sort of paradoxes here. In order to create new curves, I have to be in Object mode.
So I have to exit out of sub-object mode, and there are couple of different ways I can do this. One would be from the standard Modify panel. I could go into Create Curves, and you'll see a list of all the different curve types. So I can create my Offset curve either here. I can also do it from the NURBS toolbox. So this might open by itself sometimes. There is a little NURBS toolbox, and these are just icons that are identical to these buttons. So I don't tend to use the toolbox so much because these icons are bit too abstract for me, so I like to use these text-based buttons.
So I'll close that toolbox. So I'm looking for Offset. All I have to do I click the button and then click on the curve that I want to Offset and drag, and you'll see I'm getting a consistent thickness. That's pretty cool. All right. When I release the mouse button, I've created my Offset curve, and I can right-click a couple of times to complete that. You'll notice that this new Offset curve is in green, and that means it's a dependent curve. It's dependent upon the shape of this first curve.
So to illustrate that, if I went into Curve CV mode and selected one of these and moved it, you would see that the Offset curve is maintaining that same distance or that same shape. Ctrl+Z to undo. Okay. Because that is a dependent curve, I actually can't select it and do much to it, like I can't move that around. You'll notice that it's moving both of them. So in order to move this Offset curve independently, I need to make it independent. So I select it, and then there's a button here that says Make Independent.
So I'll click on that, and now if I click off of that, you'll see it's no longer in green, and I can move that around, and it's a separate independent copy. Cool! So I'm in a good place to create my U Loft. I've got three independent curves, and I can move them, scale them, and do whatever to them. And in order to create the surface, I need to once again go back to object level. So out of sub-object mode, and I want to create a surface. So I've got Create Surfaces here, and I've got U Loft.
So to create the U Loft, I'll activate the button and then just click on the three curves in order. It doesn't matter whether I go from bottom to top or from top to bottom as long as I'm consistent. So I'll go from bottom to top. Click once, twice, and three times, and I've created my U Loft. When I'm finished, I'll right-click, and then I'll right-click again to exit the tool. Okay. So you'll notice that I've got my surface, but it's inverted.
The normals are facing the wrong way around. So I can quickly reverse the normals here. What I need to do is go into the Surface sub-object mode, which is a new sub-object mode that's just appeared because I now have a surface in my object. Click on Surface sub-object mode, select the surface, and then within here you will see that there is a switch that says Flip Normals, and it will activate that. And now I've reversed the direction on the surface. You do want to use this Flip Normals command in the surface rather than adding a Normal modifier because if you've added a Normal modifier that would reverse the surfaces, all of the surfaces in this model, but I really want to control one surface at a time because I'm also going to have an extrude surface.
So I want to have separate control over the normals for each one of the surfaces within the object.
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