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In Getting Started with Reactor in 3ds Max, Steve Nelle shows how to create realistic dynamic simulations that have objects recognize, collide and react to coming into contact with each other in 3ds Max animation projects. This course includes a detailed explanation of both rigid and soft body dynamics, reactor's various collection types, using constraints and soft body modifiers, and how to adjust and control a dynamic simulation's accuracy. Four start-to-finish projects are also included in the course, which show practical techniques for breaking objects apart, creating cloth simulations, adding rippling water effects to a scene, and more. Exercise files accompany the course.
With our project starting from scratch, let's go ahead and save our file. We'll name it Breaking Glass. Okay, the first thing we are going to do is set out to model the window object that will make our shattering sheet of glass. The fact that it's our responsibility to create those separate glass shards brings up an important issue about creating an exploding type of dynamic simulation. Reactor does not break apart geometry. In other words, it won't take a single object and just magically bust it into several pieces.
The utility expects us to do that breaking up for it. So it's going to be our responsibility to supply by building the individual smaller objects that will appear to be all glued together in order to create the impression of a single whole object. To help us with our modeling, I found a reference image that I thought we could use. It looks like this. Now what we are going to do is load this picture into our front viewport. We'll then utilize the image to trace the lines that will end up being used to cut a single 3D object into several pieces.
Let's see what we can do. We'll start by taking our front view full screen. Use the Alt+W keyboard shortcut to make that conversion. Then going into the upper left-hand corner of the viewport, we'll click on the name Wireframe. When the menu opens we'll drop down to viewport Background, and from there we'll choose viewport Background again. You could've also used the shortcut key Alt+B to open up the next dialog. In the viewport Background controls, we'll go to the upper left-hand corner. In the category called Background Source, we'll click on Files. We'll then navigate to the image we'll load on our background.
You can find that in the exercise files for this chapter. When you get to the folder, you'll choose Broken Glass. Now staying in the dialog, we'll drop to the left-hand corner. See the category called Aspect Ratio? Change the option from Match viewport to Match Bitmap. This will allow us to maintain the height/width ratios of our image irrespective of the dimensions of our viewport window. Directly to the right of that, we'll also want to turn on Lock Zoom/Pan. This will give us the opportunity of being able to easily zoom in and out of our picture. Once you've made those changes, go ahead and click OK.
We can then simply roll our mouse wheel so we can see the entire image. Why don't we also hide the grid by typing G? With the reference image now on our scene, we can draw directly on top of it. What we are going to do here, and frankly we don't need to be super-accurate, is create a series of lines that in a general way follow the overall outline of our background broken glass design. The lines that we draw will then be extruded in a manner that will allow us to then use those lines as a cutting object to make our glass shard cuts, those cuts being done by a special command in Max's modeling arsenal called ProCutter.
Now to start, because it will be important that our lines overlap when drawn, let's activate our Snap and change what we'll snap to to vertex. We'll go up to the top into our main toolbar. Right in the middle of that row of icons, we can activate the Snap command. Now to change your snapping options, we'll then right-click on that same icon. In the box, we'll turn off Grid Points and turn on Vertex. Okay, now it's going to be simply a matter of drawing some lines. Let's head over the Command panel and active the Shape commands. From there, we can click on Line. Now what we are going to do is draw separate lines, each of those lines starting and ending outside of our background design.
We'll draw our lines in a pattern that will simply represent our broken-up piece of glass. So with this Snap command activated, I'll go ahead and begin drawing. I am going to start in the lower left-hand corner. I'll simply click outside the image and then start drawing closer toward the middle. When I get to the middle, I'll click again and then simply pull outside the image clicking one last time. So this one line will represent a single piece of our broken-up glass. Now to continue the process, we'll right-click to get out of the Line command, deselect what we have selected, then go back into the Line option. Now, this is where the Snap will come in.
We'll now snap to the vertices that we've already placed on that original line, starting again on the outside and working our way toward the middle. You can see how the process works. We'll simply continue creating individual lines in a clockwise direction until we get back to where we started. Now again, the only thing you really need to worry about here is that you snap one vertex to another. The design you actually draw frankly doesn't make much difference. Now for that last line, continuing the snap to the vertices, you'll want to complete the piece. Okay, now that we've done that, we can turn our Snap off and create the object that will use those lines as a way to get them cut apart.
We'll make that object using a simple box. So the Snap goes off and back to the Command panel we go, this time returning to the Geometry category and clicking on Box. Now before I start, I am going to change my wireframe color to green. Okay, now the box I create I am going to want the same size as my background broken glass image. So starting in the upper left-hand corner, I'll simply draw diagonally down to the lower-right. Now using one view we won't be able to see the height measurement on this, so just simply click enough times to make sure to complete the box-creating command.
Once you've done that, you can right-click to get out of box and return to four views. Okay, focusing where we're looking into the top view, we'll take our mouse back to the Command panel and change the amount of the box to make the appropriate thickness for our class object. Again, as you make that change just simply look at the way the results are going in the top view. I'll settle in with my Height setting somewhere between 5 and 6. Because of having to make our glass pane originally look like it's a solid sheet, we are going to also need to make a second box that we'll use later in the project to switch, using a visibility track, from a whole sheet of glass to our shard pieces.
So next step, let's go to the Edit pulldown menu, choosing Clone. In the Options, we'll start by changing it from Instance to Copy. We'll then give it the name Glass Solid. Okay, now that whole sheet of glass won't come into play until a little later in the project. So with it selected, we'll simply right-click, choosing Hide Selection. We're also, at this point, pretty much done with our reference image, so we'll activate the front view and we'll hide it. With that the viewport now active, we'll return to the Wireframe name in the upper left-hand corner, going down to viewport Background, then un-checking where it says Show Background.
With that now hidden, let's go and create our cutting object with the lines that we've drawn. In the front view, staying in the middle of my green box, I'll window-select all my yellow lines. Then to make them 3D, in the Modifier List I'll choose Extrude. Then watching my top view, I'll simply adjust the extrusion amount, so I have a little bit of thickness. I'll take that number to somewhere around 40. Now before we can make our cuts, it's going to be very important that our cutting lines directly intersect our green box. So in the top view, I'll activate my Move command, moving things in better position.
Again, remember, your yellow cutting lines must completely intersect your green window box. Once we've done that, we can activate our perspective view, going back to full screen, and I'll zoom out a little ways to get myself in better position. Here's where the ProCutter comes in as our tool to cut our box into several pieces. We'll start by first deselecting everything, then single-selecting one extruded line. With that one line selected, we'll head back to the Command panel. When we get there, we'll go back to the Create column, into the Geometry category.
From there, we'll click on Standard Primitives, heading down to Compound Objects. Okay, on the right-hand side, the bottom of the column, click on ProCutter. Now here's how this works. About halfway down, you'll see the ProCutter options. We'll start by clicking on the top button, Pick Cutter Objects. Once we've done that, we'll type H on our keyboard. This will bring up a list of all the objects in our scene that we can add to our single extruded line that we'll cut with. What we'll choose from the list are all the objects that start with the name Line. Irrespective of the number, just select them all.
Once you've done that, you can go to the lower right-hand corner and click on Pick. Okay, back on the right side, we've got a couple of more options to activate. Let's go a little further down. Just below the active button, you'll see a category called Cutter Tool mode. In there you'll check both options: Auto Extract Mesh and Explode By Elements. In the next tab down, Cutter Parameters, and in the section called Cutting Options, you'll also want to turn on Stock Inside Cutter. Now a little further up at the top, directly below the button that's currently on, you'll click on the button that reads Pick Stock Objects.
Once you've done that, you can then carefully click anywhere on the green box surface. Doing so will break the green box into individual smaller pieces. You'll be able to tell just how well that's happened by the number of colors you now see on the screen. You should have a separate color for each glass shard object. Now, ProCutter can be a little bit touchy at times. So if you clicked on the window box object and things mysteriously disappeared, undo what you've done and slightly move your cutting objects just a tad to the side.
Then repeat the process. Many times if there is a problem, it's simply because Max didn't really like the way the geometry was lining up. Most of the time, undoing, moving things around, and trying again will solve the problem. Now that we've made our cuts, we can go back in and hide our original yellow cutting lines. Now before going any further, make sure to get out of that ProCutter command. You can do that by simply right- clicking on the screen a couple of times. Okay, once that's done, let's return to four views with Alt+W. In the top view, we'll then zoom out a ways and select all the yellow cutting surfaces.
Now the important ting in this election is make sure that you don't also select any of those newly created sharded objects. Once you've made that selection, you can right-click, choosing Hide Selected. So check that out. Our original box has now very easily, via the ProCutter, been cut into many smaller pieces. To verify how will the cuts have come out, why don't we in the Perspective view individually select pieces, move them to the side, and then undo. Now we are also going to want to create a frame for our sheet of glass. To do that, let's take our front view back full screen.
For this I am going to be using a rectangle. Before creating though, I am going to go back and turn my Snap on so I can snap to the extents of my sharded pieces. Now once I've got that Snap activated, I'll go back to the Command panel, getting into the Shapes column. Down to rectangle I go. Then I'll simply draw from the upper left-hand to the lower right-hand corner of the sharded objects. Once that's done, we'll immediately turn Snap off. This time around, I'll simply use the S shortcut. To give a width to my soon-to-be created frame, I am going to take my rectangle, first converting it down to an editable spline.
In the Modifier stack, I'll then open up the editable spline entry, heading down to the Spline level. Once I activate that, I'll go back in my view and select that rectangle. What we are going to do here is outline this shape. The Outline command is going to be found back on the right several inches down. Once clicking on the Outline button, I'll put my mouse back on my selected spline. When the cursor changes, I'll simply hold my mouse button down and I'll pull over to the side. I am going to make the distance between my two lines about a quarter inch.
Once I've got that, I'll return to the top of the stack, clicking on Editable Spline. Then I'll return to four views. Now, what I am going to do here is apply the Bevel Modifier to give this some depth. In the Modifier list, I'll choose Bevel. In the Bevel settings, we go little further down in the category called Bevel Values. I'll then adjust my Level 1 Height, looking in the top view for that thickness. I might even zoom in a ways in the top you view to get a better look. Now for my Bevel, back on the right-hand side I'll activate Level 2. Then I'll adjust the Height up while I look in the top view to see the thickness of that Bevel.
When I am happy with that, I'll drop down to Outline, giving it a negative number. When you're happy with results, why don't we name this object Frame? You'll also then want to go back to the top view and better center that frame on those glass pieces. Once that's done, why don't we reactivate the Perspective view, taking that full screen. In the Perspective view, I'll then better position myself in anticipation of then creating a camera. Once I've got myself in a relatively good position, I'll then create my camera using the keyboard shortcut command C. Now after typing that, look in the upper left-hand corner and verify that automatically the Perspective view has changed over to Camera.
Why don't we now adjust the resolution setting to fit our widescreen layout? To do that, I'll move to the upper right-hand corner of the main toolbar, clicking on Render Setup. You could also simply type the keyboard shortcut F10. In the Options, being that I am using a widescreen layout for my recording, I'll change the Output size from Custom down to HDTV. For my Width and Height, I'll then simply type 900 in for the Width and press Enter. That'll give me a good size that when I render I'll fill the majority of my screen.
Okay, back in the viewport, let's also activate our Safe Frame. We'll do that by going to the upper left- hand corner of our viewport, clicking on Camera. From the menu that opens up about halfway down, we'll choose Show Safe Frames. By the way, as you can see, we could have also used the keyboard shortcut Shift+F. Once we've done that, we can now better position ourselves within the view using the Camera Navigation controls in the lower-right corner. To finish up, I'll then type G to hide my grid. Okay, that'll do it for here. In our next video, we'll start adding the needed physical properties to our objects.
Let's go ahead and save this out as Breaking Glass01, so we can take it with us.
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