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In the previous chapter we created the spline curves and now we are ready to connect them together to create a surface. The tool we are going to use in 3ds Max is called a loft. Now, in 3ds Max a loft is a little bit different than it is in some other programs. So you might be accustomed to the way that other programs, like Maya, create lofts and that's a little bit different. In most programs, a loft is just taking two spline curves and drawing lines in between them and that generates a surface.
But in 3ds Max it's a little bit more involved because you also need to have a so-called path and that's what this line is here. This is going to be our path and these other two splines are going to be the so-called shapes. So a 3ds Max loft must have exactly one path and it must have one or more shapes. So in this case, I have got one path and two shapes. To begin, I am going to select the path. I will go to the Create panel and under Geometry this time, I am going to choose from the pull-down list Compound Objects.
So Compound Object, as the name implies, is an object made of other objects. And you will see there are a few to choose from and here we have Loft. If you don't have the line selected, this is going to be grayed out. So if I deselect it, you will see it's grayed out. So I want to select that path and click the Loft button and now down here I have got Creation Method. I can get the path, or I can get a shape. Well, I already have the path. The path is currently selected.
So I want to get a shape. I am going to click Get Shape and go over here and click on that circle and now I have got a loft. Basically, the circle has been extruded along the length of the path. So it's kind of like a sweep. We have swept the circle down the length of the path. I can add the other shape as well at this time or at a later time. What I need to do is I need to choose a position on the path and then add the next shape.
So this parameter here, Path value, is the distance along the path from 0-100. So it's not measured in actual linear units, like inches. It's just a percentage. So it will be easier to see if I put this into Wireframe. So I am going to hit F3 and switch to Wireframe mode and you can see there's a little yellow cross. As I move this value, you will see the cross kind of creeping up.
And if I put this, let's say I type in a value of 50 exactly and press Tab, that places that little marker at 50% along the path. So I have positioned this marker in advance and now I can choose the second shape. So I will click Get Shape and then click on my star and now you will see I have got a loft with a more complex shape. I am going to press F3 again, so you can see the shading. So what we currently have here is a Loft object that has two shapes and the shapes are being blended or interpolated.
So if I get in a little bit closer here with the Ctrl+Alt+Middle mouse, you can see it's starting out as a circle at 0% along the path and it's transitioning to a star at 50% along the path. I can also choose Shapes from the Modify panel. So I could also go into the Modify panel and repeat that same process. I could choose a location along the path, click Get Shape, and then choose my spline curve in the viewport. So we have got a basic loft, and the next thing we will want to do is change its parameters.
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