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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.
Having set up the units and the home grid, now let's get started on modeling our architectural object. I am going to talk a little bit about level of detail. But first, I want to just center the object in the world. So I'm going to select it and choose the Move tool. You can also press the W key. And then in the Transform Type-In area, I'll just type in some zeros, 0 Tab, 0. There it is. It's centered on the world now. Zooming in a little bit with the Ctrl+ Alt+Middle mouse, and I probably want to rename this now while I'm at it, and maybe change it's object color. So let's do that.
I'll go to Modify panel and it's currently called Box001. I'm going to rename it to arch. And I'll change the object color while I'm at it. You'll see here that it's got this peach color. I can click on that, and I get a dialog where I can choose the object color. You see there are two choices here: 3ds Max and AutoCAD. I'm going to choose AutoCAD. That's just because it gives me more options from which to choose. So I'm going to do sort of light gray. And in fact, I can also turn off this switch to Assign Random Colors. So from now on, when I make more objects, they'll always have this light gray color.
That's just my personal preference. The next thing I'm going to do so I can look at level of detail is press F4 on the keyboard so that I can see the wires. And I might as well hit Alt+ W to make this bigger too. So I've got a box that's 1 foot on a side. I know this is going to be a lot bigger. So the Height, for example. It's probably going to be something more like 30 feet because I want it to go up and over. So I'll try that. I'll put in a 30.
And now I've got a box that's 30 feet tall. Now, I want to bend this and do all sorts of fun things to it, but I won't be able to do much to it at this stage, because it doesn't have any segmentation. You'll see here it's got no lines running left to right. If I increase the number of Height segments by clicking and dragging, I can give it more detail. And I'll need that detail, because if that's not there I won't be able to bend the object or twist it or do anything to it. Remember that this is a polygon object.
And in order to get the approximation of curvature, I've got to have lots of straight lines. So I need to have more height segments. I don't know exactly how many I need right now, but I know that it's going to be probably in the range of 30 or 40 segments. So I'll try 40. I won't be needing any segments in the other axes. 1 and 1 is fine in this case because the object's not going to be deforming in those other dimensions. So I don't want to burden my machine by increasing the number of Length or Width segments, because that's not going to contribute to the shape of the object at all.
So I'll leave those at 1 and 1. It's very important that you understand the idea of level of detail. Let me illustrate this to you. If I put a Bend modifier and adjust the angle, you'll see it's bending nicely. I'll orbit around with Alt+Middle mouse. And if I go back down to the box in the modifier stack and reduce the Height segments, you'll start to see especially when we get down below about 10 segments or so that it's going to looks pretty blocky. And eventually, it's is going to turn into this skewed shape here.
So level of detail is critical. I need to have enough segments in order to resolve the curvature that I'm trying to achieve. So set that back to 40. That's just a basic introduction to setting level of detail.
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