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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.
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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