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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 this chapter, we're going to look at modeling basics. How to construct simple objects such as this interesting twisty archway here. We're going to look at two different things. Number one using modifiers to change the shape of objects in a global fashion. And number two, we're going to look at sub-object editing. We can go in and select an individual component or part of an object and change its shape on a finer level. That's what I've done here with the base of these columns. So I just open this scene here so that you can see where we're sort of headed it.
I'm going to start from scratch by resetting 3ds Max. So I'll go up to the Application menu and choose Reset. When I do that, I'm prompted, Do you really want to reset? Yes and 3ds Max wipes out whatever was in my scene and restores all the settings back to whatever the defaults are. So as I mentioned in the previous chapter, 3ds Max by default works in generic units. So if I make a box, for example, it's reading out some values here in my Create panel or in the Modify panel.
Values for Length, Width and Height, but those are in generic units. So 36 what? We don't know. So the very first thing we have to do before modeling anything is establish our units. So I'm going to go into the Customize menu. Within Customize, you'll see Units Setup. Click on that and I get a dialog opening up. In here, I get to choose what my units of measurement are going to be. I'll stay with the US Standard, because that's what I'm more familiar with. You've got a bunch of options within here about how 3ds Max is going to display these values in the spinners or in these fields.
My advice is Feet with Decimal Inches is the most reliable. The Default Units setting here determines how 3ds Max will interpret a keystroke. If I have Feet as the Default Units and I type in a 12 over here, 3ds Max is going to think I want 12 feet. If I have Inches chosen and I type in a 12, it's going to think that I want 12 inches. So I'll leave it at Feet. That's fine. This Display Unit Scale section here doesn't change the size of objects in your scene. It only changes the unit of measurement that you're using to measure objects in your scene.
So if I click OK here, now I'm seeing actual feet and inches. So if I wanted my box to be exactly 3 feet x 3 feet in length and width, I will just type in a 3, hit the Tab key and type in another 3, and there you go. If I want it to be in inches, I could type in a 3 and then a single quote for a foot mark, and then another numeral, like a 6 and then a double quote to indicate 3 feet 6 inches.
I could do this in lots of different ways too. For example, I could type in 42 inches, and it would interpret that as the same 3'6". Or if I typed in 3.5 and hit Enter, it translates that to 3'6" as well. I want to go back into the Customize > Unit Setup for a moment, and I want to point something out to you in here. And that is the System Unit Setup. It's a big scary button up here at the top of the Units Setup window. If I click that, it's going to take me into a secondary dialog box where I've got actually dialogs launching other dialogs.
This System Units Setup controls the accuracy of 3ds Max. In fact, in 3ds Max, we don't have an infinite level of accuracy. We only have a certain number of decimal points to work with. The default value here in the System Unit Scale is 1 inches. And you should leave it at 1 inch unless you have some very compelling reason to change it. The only reason you would ever want to change this is if you are modeling a scene that was very, very large. That was more than let's say a mile square.
And then in that case, you would want to change this to some larger setting like meters or kilometers or something like that. But you would only do that before you start modeling a scene. You want to be cautious about this because if you change the System Unit Scale after a scene has been built, you might have unpleasant results. 3ds Max might get confused, might not know if a point is in a certain location or not. And your geometry can crumble. And you can actually corrupt your scene.
So you don't change this unless you are modeling something very, very large. Or there are certain circumstances when you are working with real-time game engines and things like that where you might be required to change the System Unit Scale. But in general, for most work, you need to leave this at Inches to play safe, and you can change the Display Unit Scale to whatever you like. By the way, you'll note if I switch it over to Metric and click OK, it's not reading out in metric. It hasn't changed the size of my object or my scene.
I'm just seeing a different value displayed in my Parameters. So I'll go ahead and change that back to Feet with Decimal Inches. That's how we set up units in 3ds Max.
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