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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.
Now I have got the essential topology of this model down. In other words, I have got the sort of macro structure and what I am ready to do now is to start actually really shaping it up and one way I can do that is by using Edge Loops. So I can select Edge Sub-object mode and select an edge here and click the Loop button to select all of the edges in a line here, or all the edges connected end-to-end. That's an Edge Loop. What I want to do is I want to move these edges around in order to essentially deboxify this model.
In other words, I want it to be round. I don't want it to be square. So I am going to go to the Top View, and I can move that Edge Loop, and you can see, it's shaping up my model. Basically, I want it to be round. So I will go over here to this other Edge Loop in the front and click the Loop button and then move that in the Front View. It's handy that I have my laved base here, which happens to be circular. It makes it easier for me to try to approximate that circular shape in the Sub-D model.
Now, you will never get it to be perfectly circular, and that's something you need to really understand about Sub-Ds. It's never really going to give you a perfect circle or a perfect sphere. You can get kind of close, but it will never be right on the money, but it'll usually be close enough that most people won't notice. So I can go to this one here, select that edge and click Loop, and you'll see this time unfortunately it's selected a loop all the way around. So I may not be able to use the Loop button on this. So you do have to pay attention to make sure that you're selecting what you think you're selecting.
So this time I'll just go around and select it with the Ctrl key, select those three edges, and then try to shape this up in my view, do the same here, select those three edges, right-click in my Top View. Basically, I am just going to move these around until I get an approximation of roundness. Right-click, and then these are the back ones, Ctrl+Click on those. On these edges that are at the seam, I want to make sure that I'm not moving them in the X axis because I will create a split in my model, Ctrl+Z to undo.
So I am only moving that one in the Y axis. So I am using the Sub-D tools to try to approximate this sort of cylindrical shape. Right-click to go to the Top View without losing the selection. I have got more or less the shape that I want there. Then I can start working on tapering this down so that it will have that nice shape that we saw in the first model that I showed you, the completed version.
And additionally you know what? I probably don't need these polygons at the bottom here. So in fact, I can actually go in there and search and destroy those. Just Ctrl+Select all those, press the Delete key, and I've got a nice, clean border down there, and I can select that entire Edge Loop by choosing my Edge mode, select and click the Loop button, and it may not select the entire Edge Loop. Sometimes it will kind of get stuck, and it won't actually select the whole thing, but I got lucky this time. What I want to do here is to scale this Edge Loop down basically to shrink this down so that we'll get a tapered affect here.
If you go to the Scale tool and you try to scale this let's say in all three axes, then what you'll see is it's going to split your model in half, and that's no good. I will press the G key to turn off the grid. So that's not any good, right? So I will hit Ctrl+Z to undo that. We might try scaling it in X. Also, no good. We need to try to maintain the integrity of this so that this point here does not move away from the X axis. So this leads us into a little bit more of how to use the 3ds Max Transform tools.
Up here in the top you will see I have got the Scale tool active. What I want to do is actually I want to scale relative to the world's X axis, not the selection's X axis. So I selected all of these edges, and they're scaling around their common center. What I want to do is I want to move this Scale Gizmo to the center of the world, or something along those lines. I want it to scale along this axis here. So what I will do is I will go up to the Reference Coordinate system, and I'll choose World.
So now, World is my reference when I scale. So that's part of the equation. The other part is here there is a button that by default says, Use Pivot Point Center. If you hold this button down, it's a flyout and gives you different options for where your Transform Gizmo is going to be placed. So I've got Use Pivot Point. I have got Use Selection Center and most interestingly and importantly here, I've got Use Transform Coordinate Center is the third one in the list.
So when I release my mouse on that, my Scale Gizmo is now sent to the origin of the World. There it is. So now if I scale in X, you'll see that I'm maintaining the integrity of that Edge Loop, and it's not actually splitting apart. Additionally, I can scale in X and Y simultaneously so that it'll stay round. So this is important technique in 3ds Max is understanding how to use the coordinate centers, and this is sticky, by the way, for each one of the transforms.
So if I go back to the Move tool, it's going to remember my coordinate system and my transform center, and if I go back to Scale, it remembers that I was using the World Coordinate System, and the Transform Coordinate Center, cool! Okay. So I can go around to my other Edge Loops. I can select this edge and then click Loop, and again scale it, try to shape that up. Once again, up here, clicking Loop, right -clicking in my Perspective View to not lose my selection, and I can scale it in X and Y.
So I probably want to spend some more time shaping this up, but I'm just quickly showing you what I can do. We can also of course move the Edge Loop up and down, go back to Scaling, right-click so I don't lose my selection, make that a little bit bigger. I don't want it to be smaller than this piece of hardware here for the footrest. I can select polygons and do the same thing too. I can go up and select these polygons up top and we drag a big box around that, and I can scale those as well.
Maybe I'll just scale it in X and Y to make that bigger. I might need more detail. So I probably want to add an Edge Loop, too. So I can do that in a couple of different ways. If I want to do that from the traditional Editable Poly tools, what I'd do is I would select edges. And sometimes, you'll notice that the Subdivision Surface is displayed on top of the Control Cage shown here in Orange, and that makes it hard for you to select things. So you might need to actually exit out of Show end result, turn that off, and hit the F4 key so you can see your edges.
What I want to do is create a new Edge Loop here, and I can do that by selecting these edges, and using the Connect tool. So here is Connect, and if I just click it once I'll create a single Edge Loop there. Then I can turn Show end result back on again, and I can hit F4, so I can see the Sub-divided surface a little bit better, and then use the W key to move that Edge Loop around. So if Edge loops are really close to one another, we will see a sharper transition in the curvature. So to show you that, I'll turn Show end result off again and F4 once again.
So you see where these two Edge Loops are close together, we are going to get a sharper transition in the curve. But if the Edge Loops were far apart, we would have a more gradual and a softer transition. So that's the basics of working with Edge Loops with Sub-division surfaces.
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