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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.
Before I group all these parts together, I need to finish the construction process. I know that the entire height of the shelf unit is going to be 79 inches, so I can use a 3ds Max Helper Object to measure out in my scene. Make it little bit easier to tell how big I want this to be and exactly how I am going to move things around. So I am going to go to the front view and dolly back a little bit with the mouse wheel, until I can see the whole scene here, and I am going to go to the Create panel, and I am looking for Helpers.
Here you go, Helpers. It's a special object class, type of object, and the one I'm going for here is a Tape Helper. Before I create that Tape Helper, however, I do want to turn on Snaps, just so that it will be lined up nice and clean. So I will select 3-d Snaps, and I will also right-click just to verify that Grid Points is the only option active. Okay, so I will hit Alt+W to make my front view bigger, and I will create my Tape Measure.
So I will click once down here at the z value of zero, and that will be the beginning of my Tape Measure, and drag out and snapping to the Grid, and then release the mouse button, and then finally right-click to complete the creation, and now I've got a Tape Helper. I can turn off snapping now, so that it doesn't distract me. So what have I got here? I have got a Tape Target and the Tape Head. And if I select the Modified panel, and the Tape Head is actively selected, you'll see a Length displayed here.
Well, I can actually move the target around and see what the Tape Helper is doing, but unfortunately I can't see, in the Modified panel, what my value is. So I am going to hit Ctrl+Z to undo, and I want to show you if you select an object in the Modified panel, you can actually pin the Modified Stack, so it will be stuck to this display no matter what you do. So if I select the Tape Head and press Pin Stack, now when I move the target around you can see it's showing me the Length.
It's reading out the Length in feet and inches. Ctrl+Z to undo. That's pretty cool, and even cooler, I can specify the Length. I know that the total height is going to be 79 inches. So I can just go and select Specify Length and type in 79 and press Enter, and so now 6'7.0" is just here, at the very top. So that's my reference for how tall I want the entire assembly to be.
Very good, so then I can select these parts, and I can move them up, turn on snapping once again. In 3ds Max 2011, there's now a new feature for snapping. You'll see there's a little handle here in the center of the Move tool, and I can use that as a handy way of snapping the entire piece here. So I am just kind of guestimating here. I don't know exactly how high I want this to be, but I do know that the bottom section is to be a little bit taller than the top section.
So that looks about right now. Cool. So I can make a couple of more duplicates. I need another shelf at the top. So can select that, and I can hold down the Shift key and move that up. And if it's not snapping exactly where I want it to be, it's just because I need to zoom in closer in my view port. As soon as I release the mouse button, I get a Clone Options dialog, and again I want to choose Instance, so I will say OK, and I'll just move this up little bit.
And if the snaps are giving me trouble, you know I can just turn them off. So that's pretty good. The next thing I need to do is just complete the sides here. So I can select these two objects. Actually, I will just select the 1, and I will Shift drag and move that down and actually just want to position that at 0 in Z. This time I want this to be a copy so it won't have any relationship to the other objects, so I will just say OK, and position it as Z value of 0, and then just adjust the height until it's essentially where I want it.
Getting a little bit closer. It's okay if there's a little bit of a gap there. No one is ever going to see that. In fact, actually I want there to be one more piece here at the bottom, so I am going to move this up by an inch or so and then reduce the Height. And I will make yet another duplicate here because it exactly has wooden parts and actually a little metal part as well. So I am going to hold down Shift and drag that out, and make that a copy once again and will set the Height to be 1", and then these two pieces I can duplicate to the other side.
So I can just hold down Shift and drag that out and make Instances once again. And again Instances are great because I can change any of these parameters, and they'll be reflected in all of the objects. So if I decided that I wanted the Thickness of the side panels to be greater, I can select any one of those side panels and increase the Width, and you can see because I used Instances throughout, they are all changing, but what I had originally was fine.
So I am going to hit Ctrl+Z to undo. Back up to the top. You just need to make a couple of more Duplicates here. Hold down Shift+drag to make a copy. Reduce the Height, get a little bit closer there. Once again, hold down Shift. Make a Duplicate. I will make that only an inch tall, so we Copy once again, and the Height will be 1", and finally I will duplicate these to the other side, and actually there is a fun way I can do this.
I can duplicate them in Z2 kind of right where they are, and then I can move them over just by typing in reverse sign and the x value, and that's possible because I have everything centered on the x axis. So what I will do here is I will go to Edit > Clone. You can use Ctrl+V to do that. So I am going to do a Clone of those two objects, and make them Instances once again and say OK, and then all I have to do to move these is to select one of them with the Move tool, and you will see the X value down here.
I can just reverse the sign of that. Instead of -2' 3," I can give it a positive 2'3," likewise with this one. I will just remove that negative sign. So I have got my bookshelf built up. I will hit Alt+W, and go out to the Perspective view, check my work, orbit around, make sure there's nothing funky going on, and finally I'm ready to group all the pieces together. So I don't need my Tape Measure anymore, so I can select that and Delete it.
I can just go around and double check and make sure everything has got a proper name. These are all called Side panels, and these are all called Shelves, and that's all good, and I'll just select everybody and put them into a group. Group > Group, and I'm prompted to give a name to the group, and I do advise that you use the word Group in the name of the group so that you will know that it's not just any ordinary object. So I am going to call this one, BookshelfGroup and hit Enter, and now you'll see in the Modified panel that the name is in Bold, and that's an indicator that this is a group we are dealing with.
And if I Press the J key, you'll see the brackets, and if I press F4, it will turn off those Edged Faces, so we can get a better sense of what we are working with here. Very good, so that's a group and if I select any member of the group, I can move, rotate or scale the entire group as a unit. I can hit Ctrl+Z to undo. And this is definitely what you want to do when you're constructing a bunch of pieces that are then going to get merged into a master scene. You want to group all the parts together in this way.
It will make it a lot easier for you to merge things together. One last thing about groups is that you can do lots of things with them. For example, you can destroy the group, or you can just temporarily open it so when the Group is selected I can go to the Group menu and choose Open. And if my selection brackets are visible, they will be displayed in this Pink color, and this is an indicator that I've got a group. And if I then Click on an individual member of the group, it will have selection brackets in White, so I can actually move individual parts around, or adjust their parameters, or whatever.
Ctrl+Z to undo those operations. And if I select the Group Bracket up here, I can actually work with it as a unit. Ctrl+Z to undo. So it just depends upon whether you select an individual member of the group or if you Click on the group selection bracket, whether you want to work with it as a unit or as individual parts. I will go ahead and Close the Group, and that's it for our Bookshelf.
We finished Simple Polygon modeling with Chamfer Boxes, the Array Tool and grouped all the parts together.
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