3ds Max 2011 Essential Training
Illustration by Maria ReƱdon

Preventing problems with scale


3ds Max 2011 Essential Training

with Aaron F. Ross

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Video: Preventing problems with scale

Over the years of teaching, I've seen the same sort of issues crop up again and again with my students who are just beginning in 3D animation. One of these is improper usage of the Scale tool. I've reverted back to this very simple example of a robot arm because I think it's a better illustration of what the problem is. That problem is if you non-uniformly scale an object, if you stretch it in one direction with the Scale tool and then link it up to other objects, you're going to get some very, very ugly skewing problems that are a direct consequence of the fact that you've non-uniformly scaled objects.
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  1. 3m 19s
    1. Welcome
    2. Prerequisites
      1m 18s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 4s
  2. 7m 33s
    1. Using the Custom UI and Defaults Switcher
      1m 35s
    2. Setting local file paths to relative
      1m 27s
    3. Using project folders
      4m 31s
  3. 36m 35s
    1. Getting familiar with the interface
      4m 5s
    2. Touring the command panels
      1m 44s
    3. Creating primitives
      3m 5s
    4. Navigating the viewports
      3m 57s
    5. Using hotkeys
      3m 18s
    6. Choosing shading modes
      3m 6s
    7. Configuring the viewports
      3m 29s
    8. Transforming objects
      4m 32s
    9. Using the toolbars
      3m 33s
    10. Using the Modify panel
      5m 46s
  4. 36m 11s
    1. Surveying different modeling methods
      5m 18s
    2. Setting units
      5m 8s
    3. Setting home grid dimensions
      3m 37s
    4. Understanding the Level of Detail utility
      3m 34s
    5. Working with the Modifier Stack
      3m 51s
    6. Understanding dependencies
      5m 9s
    7. Collapsing the Modifier Stack
      4m 53s
    8. Working with sub-objects
      4m 41s
  5. 18m 32s
    1. Creating shapes
      5m 17s
    2. Creating lines
      2m 56s
    3. Converting a shape to an editable spline
      2m 20s
    4. Transforming editable spline sub-objects
      4m 20s
    5. Using different types of vertices
      3m 39s
  6. 35m 30s
    1. Lofting a vase
      3m 59s
    2. Setting loft parameters
      3m 49s
    3. Editing the path and shapes
      5m 18s
    4. Manipulating loft sub-objects
      3m 55s
    5. Adding a scale deformation
      5m 47s
    6. Adding a shell modifier
      3m 50s
    7. Smoothing polygon edges
      8m 52s
  7. 26m 20s
    1. Setting up the project and scene layout
      2m 34s
    2. Creating a backdrop profile line
      1m 19s
    3. Using Editable Spline Fillet
      1m 24s
    4. Extruding shapes
      2m 36s
    5. Creating text
      1m 21s
    6. Applying a bevel modifier
      3m 57s
    7. Choosing bevel parameters
      2m 33s
    8. Using Display All Triangle Edges
      1m 56s
    9. Adjusting spline interpolation
      2m 22s
    10. Deforming beveled objects
      1m 17s
    11. Exporting paths from Adobe Illustrator
      2m 39s
    12. Importing Illustrator paths to 3ds Max
      2m 22s
  8. 55m 55s
    1. Setting up the scene
      2m 8s
    2. Creating chamfer boxes
      4m 44s
    3. Smoothing edges
      1m 16s
    4. Using the Array tool
      5m 31s
    5. Grouping objects
      10m 18s
    6. Modeling lines
      11m 17s
    7. Using the Sweep Modifier
      3m 0s
    8. Soft-selecting sub-objects with Volume Select
      5m 40s
    9. Removing polygons with Delete Mesh
      2m 37s
    10. Clearing a sub-object selection with Mesh Select
      3m 37s
    11. Adding randomness with the Noise Modifier
      5m 47s
  9. 33m 2s
    1. Understanding subdivision surfaces
      2m 46s
    2. Creating a box and converting to editable poly format
      3m 54s
    3. Using the Symmetry Modifier
      1m 44s
    4. Working with TurboSmooth
      3m 3s
    5. Extruding polygons
      1m 54s
    6. Editing edge loops
      8m 15s
    7. Shaping the model
      4m 57s
    8. Baking subdivisions
      3m 45s
    9. Optimizing polygon Level of Detail
      2m 44s
  10. 38m 45s
    1. Understanding the graphite tools within Editable Poly
      2m 40s
    2. Using the Graphite Ribbon interface
      3m 26s
    3. Using traditional editable poly tools within Graphite
      11m 30s
    4. Adjusting detail with Remove and Cut
      4m 44s
    5. Using SwitfLoop
      2m 46s
    6. Constraining sub-object transforms
      2m 23s
    7. Attaching polygon meshes to a single object
      5m 33s
    8. Bridging parts of a mesh
      5m 43s
  11. 25m 24s
    1. Understanding NURBS
      2m 35s
    2. Creating NURBS curves
      7m 27s
    3. Creating a U-loft surface
      5m 52s
    4. Editing curves and surfaces
      3m 9s
    5. Setting surface approximation
      6m 21s
  12. 1h 0m
    1. Using the Material Editor
      7m 8s
    2. Choosing a material type
      3m 3s
    3. Choosing a shader type
      2m 12s
    4. Adjusting specular parameters
      3m 6s
    5. Setting opacity
      3m 5s
    6. Understanding procedural Maps and bitmaps
      4m 11s
    7. Using bitmaps
      5m 21s
    8. Navigating shader trees
      2m 27s
    9. Tracking scene assets
      4m 40s
    10. Creating simple UVW mapping
      7m 52s
    11. Adding reflections with a Raytrace map
      4m 32s
    12. Creating an environment
      5m 27s
    13. Mapping a bump channel
      7m 13s
  13. 27m 4s
    1. Creating cameras
      4m 1s
    2. Understanding target and free cameras
      4m 39s
    3. Using Camera Pan, Truck, and Dolly
      4m 8s
    4. Adjusting the field of view
      4m 59s
    5. Understanding aspect ratio
      2m 6s
    6. Showing safe frames
      3m 12s
    7. Choosing render output size
      3m 59s
  14. 43m 36s
    1. Understanding CG lighting
      5m 56s
    2. Understanding standard and photometric lights
      1m 48s
    3. Creating a target spotlight
      2m 3s
    4. Enabling viewport hardware shading
      2m 10s
    5. Previewing renderings with ActiveShade
      3m 6s
    6. Adjusting intensity and color
      2m 27s
    7. Controlling contrast and highlights
      2m 52s
    8. Setting spotlight hotspot and falloff radius
      4m 59s
    9. Choosing a shadow type
      3m 56s
    10. Optimizing shadow maps
      5m 46s
    11. Using area shadows
      3m 57s
    12. Creating omni lights
      4m 36s
  15. 43m 33s
    1. Understanding keyframes
      1m 41s
    2. Setting time configuration
      3m 48s
    3. Choosing set key filters
      1m 27s
    4. Using Set Key mode
      2m 39s
    5. Editing keyframes in the Timeline
      2m 43s
    6. Using Auto Key mode
      5m 44s
    7. Creating animation in passes
      2m 40s
    8. Animating modifier parameters
      3m 53s
    9. Working in the dope sheet
      7m 47s
    10. Editing function curves
      5m 28s
    11. Looping animation
      5m 43s
  16. 43m 54s
    1. Understanding hierarchies
      3m 16s
    2. Understanding reference coordinate systems
      5m 51s
    3. Editing pivot points
      4m 40s
    4. Linking objects
      3m 20s
    5. Using the Schematic view
      1m 59s
    6. Preventing problems with scale
      7m 50s
    7. Animating a hierarchy
      10m 11s
    8. Fine-tuning the animation
      6m 47s
  17. 20m 53s
    1. Understanding controllers
      3m 55s
    2. Applying path constraints
      4m 55s
    3. Assigning a link constraint
      2m 27s
    4. Using the Motion panel
      2m 48s
    5. Animating constrained objects
      6m 48s
  18. 28m 29s
    1. Understanding particle systems
      2m 24s
    2. Emitting particles from an object with PArray
      2m 18s
    3. Adjusting particle parameters
      5m 33s
    4. Binding particles to a gravitational force
      2m 51s
    5. Colliding particles with a POmniFlector
      6m 4s
    6. Creating a particle material
      3m 23s
    7. Mapping opacity with a gradient
      2m 1s
    8. Assigning a material ID G-Buffer channel
    9. Creating a lens effect glow
      3m 9s
  19. 18m 50s
    1. Understanding image sequences
      5m 40s
    2. Setting render options
      7m 53s
    3. Compressing an image sequence to a movie
      5m 17s
  20. 27s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course 3ds Max 2011 Essential Training
10h 4m Beginner May 26, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Getting familiar with the 3ds Max interface
  • Creating shapes and splines
  • Modeling Loft objects
  • Creating motion graphics
  • Modeling with polygons and subdivisions
  • Modeling with NURBS
  • Shading objects with materials and maps
  • Setting up camera and scene layout
  • Lighting basic scenes
  • Animating objects with keyframes
  • Editing keyframes in the Curve Editor
  • Constructing and animating hierarchies
  • Using animation Constraints
  • Animating particle systems
  • Rendering animations to disk
3D + Animation
3ds Max
Aaron F. Ross

Preventing problems with scale

Over the years of teaching, I've seen the same sort of issues crop up again and again with my students who are just beginning in 3D animation. One of these is improper usage of the Scale tool. I've reverted back to this very simple example of a robot arm because I think it's a better illustration of what the problem is. That problem is if you non-uniformly scale an object, if you stretch it in one direction with the Scale tool and then link it up to other objects, you're going to get some very, very ugly skewing problems that are a direct consequence of the fact that you've non-uniformly scaled objects.

As I kind of mentioned earlier on in the course, scaling is problematic, or to put it even more bluntly, scaling is evil if you don't know exactly what you're doing. So here's an example. I've got a box down here. That's going to be part of my robot arm, but it's not tall enough. So if I didn't know any better, I would just scale the box up. So let's try that. Grab the Scale tool and scale it up in Z until it's about 400% of its original size.

You can see at the bottom of my screen in Z, we're getting some numbers going by. So if I set that to about 400, then that's approximately 400% or 4 times its original height. So I think that's fine and everything is beautiful. Then I go and link all of my parts together. Just do that quickly, Link, Link. I want to check that in the Schematic view really quick to make sure that it is what I think it is. It looks good to me. Then I'll test it.

I'll grab my Rotate tool and maybe turn that wrist. Okay, that's fine. That's doing fine. Let's try this one. Whoa! Hello! Okay, so this is exactly what I was talking about. This is symptomatic of improper usage of the Scale tool. So let me undo that, Ctrl+Z, and take a little bit closer look at this. If I select an object and go to the Scale tool, I can actually right-click and get a little pop-up dialog here that's giving me more information about the scale of the selected object.

So this one as we see has been scaled up 400%. If we select the next child in the chain, you'll see, hey, wait a minute! This one is no longer at 100% scale. It's now got a Y scale of about 25%. Now, I did not change the scale of this object, but 3ds Max actually went behind my back and scaled this object to 25%, because scale is inherited by children. So what happened here is I scaled this one up to 4 times and then 3ds Max actually went and scaled this one down to scale of one-forth, so that it would maintain the same shape and I wouldn't see it suddenly jump to being much taller.

If this were at a value of 100%, then all of the subsequent children would be stretched out. 3ds Max thinks that it was doing me a favor by setting this to about 25%. That's fine until I start to rotate stuff. So if you then rotate things then it starts skewing and doing evil things, and the reason that's happening is because there's an internal order of operations to the transforms in 3ds Max. So under the hood, there's an order of position, rotation, and scale, and you can't change that.

What's happening here is that it's being rotated and then scaled. But it's being scaled relative to its parent. So it's a bit messy and you don't really need to have a full, firm, technical grasp as exactly why this is happening, but you do need to understand that you can't scale things non- uniformly, and if you do, then you're going to have problems with the hierarchy. So how do we solve this? I'm going to hit Ctrl+Z and undo, and there's a couple of different ways around this.

One would be to reset the scale. So currently, this has got a scale of 400 and this has got a scale of 25. If I select those, I can go into the Hierarchy panel and scrolling down a little bit, Adjust Transform, you'll see there is a Reset button here. So I can reset the scale. So if I click on that and then reselect these objects, aha! Now, this is at 100 and this is at 100 and change. Let's reset that again.

So you'll see here now that I've restored everything back to sort of neutral scale. In fact, all of the objects in your scene really should have a scale of 100, 100, 100, in order to prevent any of these problems from coming up. So if I try rotating this now, everything is fine. So that's one possible solution to the problem is resetting the scale. But there are better solutions. I'm going to reopen the scene from scratch to show you in this case a much better solution would be to simply change the parameters of the box. Select that box.

Go into the Modify panel. In fact, I have the ability to change the height here directly by just typing in a value or by adjusting the spinner or what have you. So the point here is that if I make changes inside the modifier stack, then that does not affect the transforms. The transforms are what are giving me grief here. So just to verify, if I go to my Scale tool, you'll see the scale is 100, 100, 100. So I won't incur any of those problems. So that's fine if you've got a procedural primitive object like a box and you can just plug-in the height that you want, but let's say you don't have a procedural primitive.

Let's say it's been converted to Editable and you don't have any parameters. So I can right-click and convert this to Editable Poly to illustrate that. Now what do I do? If I want to scale this up, well there's a couple of things I can do. In this case because it's just a simple box, I could actually select this top polygon here and just move it up. Done! I grab my Scale tool and you'll see everything is at 100. So perfect! That's a great solution. I didn't scale it at the object level.

I didn't have the ability to change any parameters, but I just changed the shape by moving a polygon. Finally, there is one last way to do this. This is probably the way that you'll need to do it if you've got a more complex shape. That is to scale at the sub-object level. So if I go into any sub-object or component level like a polygon and select all those parts, I can scale that up and down however I want.

That's not going to affect the Object Transforms, because it's happening inside the shape of the object or inside the modifier stack. So the modifier stack is separate from the Transforms. So if I do it in this manner, then I won't have any issues. So in fact, let's say I scale it all the way down, exit out of here, and I'm looking at the scale at the object level and it's still at 100. Go back to Polygon mode, scale it up in sub-object mode, exit, and you'll see it's still at 100, 100, 100 in the object Scale Transforms. So there you go! Don't scale things non-uniformly unless you're doing it at the sub-object level, and certainly don't link any objects that have non-uniform scale to one another.

Otherwise, your animation is going to break.

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