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Smoothing polygon edges


3ds Max 2011 Essential Training

with Aaron F. Ross

Video: Smoothing polygon edges

Last thing I want to do before signing off on this model and declaring it finished is to check the edge smoothing. As I mentioned earlier, polygon objects have no true curvature. One of the ways that we can achieve the illusion of curvature is through something called edge smoothing. Basically, if we didn't have edge smoothing, then each polygon on this surface would appear as a single facet or a single discrete hard-edged unit. So, let's take a look at that. In order to see this, I need to turn off edges.
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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

Smoothing polygon edges

Last thing I want to do before signing off on this model and declaring it finished is to check the edge smoothing. As I mentioned earlier, polygon objects have no true curvature. One of the ways that we can achieve the illusion of curvature is through something called edge smoothing. Basically, if we didn't have edge smoothing, then each polygon on this surface would appear as a single facet or a single discrete hard-edged unit. So, let's take a look at that. In order to see this, I need to turn off edges.

So, I'm going to hit F4, so I'm not looking at edges. Get in a little bit closer here. I might want to change the object color here too. So, I'll do that. I'll select the object, hit the J key so we can know that that's still selected, and I'll go up to object color here and give this a light gray. While I'm here, I should name it vase. I want to look at edge smoothing.

You can see here that the top appears to have hard edges and the sides have this kind of, I don't know, stippled, kind of funky look to it. Part of that is because of the level of detail that we have and part of it has to do with smoothing. So, let me deal with a level of detail issue first. I'm going to go to the Loft parameters. Remember, we've got Shape Steps and Path Steps.

So, taking a look at this, I can adjust the number of steps until it kind of smooths out. It might be helpful to hit Alt+W so we can see this in more than one view at a time, so we can see wires. Let's do this. I'm going to hit F3 in the Front view and then F4 in the Front view. So, I got a way of visualizing what's it's going to look like in terms of the renderer, how is that going to look like when it's rendered, and also what does it look like in terms of actual wires, so number of Shape Steps.

What I want to do here is try to find the optimal point at which it looks smooth, but is not insanely heavy. I've also got Path Steps. That's the number of steps running along the path. So I can maybe reduce that. And so far so good! It's looking all right. I think I found a sweet spot in terms of level of detail here.

I'll hit Alt+W in my Perspective view, zoom in on that. So far so good. I'm just not entirely sure about this here, about that being a hard edge there. So if I want that to look more rounded, then I could apply a Smooth modifier to soften that up. So I want to apply the Smooth after the shell or on top of the Shell. So, I'll select the Shell modifier. I'm going to look for Smooth. Here is Smooth.

Now, when you first add the Smooth modifier, it's actually turned off. So it's been applied, but the Smooth effect is basically disabled. Make it a little bit easier to see by hiding the grid here. I can press that G key in my keyboard to turn the grid on or off. So now you can see this is what a polygon object would look like if there was no edge smoothing. We would get this faceted appearance. Each one of these polygons would appear as a flat face or a flat facet.

If we have a lot of them, it will almost kind of smooth over. But we'd have to have a huge number of polygons in order to get a really smooth effect if edge smoothing didn't exist. But edge smoothing does exist, and this is why it exists so that we can make faceted polygon objects look curved. So the Smooth modifier has been applied, and I also want to enable the switch that says Auto Smooth. Now, what it's doing is it's testing the boundary between each polygon and its neighbor.

If that angle between two polygons is less than this Threshold value, then that edge will be smoothed. So, if we go back down to the bottom here, two polygons here have an angle of greater than 30 degrees. It's almost 90 degrees. It looks like it's somewhere around 80 degrees. So that edge is not being smoothed. However, these guys in this area have angles that are much shallower on the order of like 5 degrees or 10 degrees.

So they're lower than this threshold. Therefore they are being smoothed. So, if I increase the threshold, more and more of the model is going to get smoothed. So, it'll take a while to get up there. I probably have to go almost up to 90 before this is going to get smoothed over. But there you see it now. So, this is smoothed, because our threshold is up very high. I can reduce that back down again. Take a look at the top.

A similar effect is going to happen up here. If I increase the threshold, eventually, if I go up to near 90, you'll see now that's getting smoothed over. Now this is actually not a desirable outcome. This is a situation where edges that we don't want to be smoothed are being smoothed. This is a very common thing that you'll see, especially with polygon modeling. This sort of will creep up on you, and you'll need to deal with it. At the end of your modeling workflow, you want to check to see if edges are being smoothed or not.

So, I think what I want on this particular model is I don't want these top edges to be smoothed, but I do want the edges at the bottom to be smoothed. So I think I just want to reduce this threshold until this is being smoothed, but this is not. So that is my model. I can continue to work on it by adjusting the sub-objects within this editable spline.

Alt+W to go to the Top view, and maybe go back and adjust a couple of these with the Move tool. Once I'm truly, truly finished with this, I'm going to want to make an editable mesh or editable poly version of it. So, I'm going to save this now in this state and then I'm going to convert it to editable poly or editable mesh and save in that state as well. Just because, although this is fairly bulletproof, because this part of the program has been around since its birth, there is a potential that later down the road we might have issues with the complexity of all the stuff that's going on in here.

So, just to future-proof my work, I'm going to convert it to editable mesh or editable poly as my final output stage. So, I'm going to save this and I'm going to call this-- We are up to number 8, and I'll call this 08_artVaseLoft and now I'm going to convert it to editable and that will bake this in and make it permanent.

I'm going to right-click and choose Convert To. I have two options: Editable Mesh or Editable Poly. Once again, Editable Poly is the more advanced of the two. If I'm trying to go for bulletproof and future-proof, then I want to choose Editable Mesh, because that's the older and dumber of the two. Old and dumb is good when you're worried about compatibility. So now since that's been converted, these shapes no longer have any influence.

So, just to un-clutter my scene, I'm going to actually select those and delete them. Now this is my final result. This is what I would import into another scene if I was going to place it into an interior scene or something like. So I'm going to save it out again, Save As, and I'll call this one 08_artVaseMesh to distinguish that from the loft version. That's a basic introduction to modeling with splines and lofting in 3ds Max 2011.

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