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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 we're ready to take an overview of the 3ds Max 2011 interface, so you can get familiar with all the different components. First of all, at the top you will see something called the caption bar and this is where you usually have just the title bar in Windows. And these are some of the most common commands like open a file or Undo and Redo. So these have been moved out of the traditional File menu that you will see in most programs.
Additionally, on the title bar you will also see an area here that gives you access to Help commands and also search the Internet for help on 3ds Max. The Application menu is found here on the extreme upper left-hand corner of that title bar and this also has File commands, but it's a little bit deeper than the File commands you will find in the caption bar. There is a series of menus in 3ds Max, and these generally are commands that don't fit elsewhere into the application.
In other words, many of these will be found only within the menu. Some will be duplicated in other parts of the interface. Below the menus is a toolbar called the main toolbar. And you will see it has lots of pretty buttons on it. But that's not the only toolbar in the program. If you right-click on an empty spot on the main toolbar, you will get a pop-up menu that shows a list of a bunch of other toolbars. So as you can see, there's quite a number of them.
For example, there's a Layers toolbar. These toolbars are dockable, so you can drag them around and drop them so they will dock to different parts of the interface. You can drag that off and close it. Additionally, below the main toolbar, you will see an area called the Ribbon and currently the Ribbon is a place where the so-called graphite modeling tools live. And we will see this in more detail later when we get into polygon modeling.
For now, the Ribbon is not really important to us, so I am going to actually just turn it off from this button. Graphite modeling tools, on and off. On the right-hand side of the interface is the heart of the program. This is called the Command panel. And again, we will be looking at this in a little bit more detail. The Command panel has options for you to create and modify objects. And additionally, the Command panel can be expanded so you can have more than one column of information here.
The main area of the 3ds Max interface is devoted to viewports, and this of course is where you will visualize your 3D scene. Navigate through your 3D world. The viewports by default show you a Perspective view and then three so-called Orthographic views: a Front, Top, and Left view. Finally, at the bottom of the 3ds Max interface are controls for animation. So this area is called the Timeline. And it works in conjunction with the transport controls over here, to play back, rewind and so on.
This area here you will see that says X, Y, and Z is where you can type in values if you want to precisely move, rotate, or scale objects. And last but not least, in the extreme lower right-hand corner of the 3ds Max interface you will see viewport controls, so that you can navigate within a viewport. As we will see, you will probably want to use the hot keys instead of these icons. But in a few cases these icons will be necessary because there are some specialized controls that are not directly accessible through the hot keys.
So this is the basic overview of the different parts of the 3ds Max interface and what they are called and what they are used for. Next we are going to take a deeper look at the Command panel, so that we can create objects.
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