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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.
Finally, if you want to change the shape of an object in 3ds Max, this will be done through the Modify panel. You'll need to select the object and go to the Modify panel in the Command panel. The Modify panel shows you the parameters of the selected object. So, for example, with this box selected, I have access to its Length, Width and Height parameters. The Modify panel as with other areas of 3ds Max is populated by these numeric fields.
To the right of those fields are spinners. So spinner lets me click to adjust that value. I can also click-and-hold my mouse, and that will continuously adjust that value. Or even better, I can click, hold, and drag to interactively adjust the value with a little bit more range. So, for example, I could click, hold, anddrag to increase the height of a box.
Of course, I can type in values to these fields as well. So if I wanted a perfect cube, I could select the length, type in a value, press Tab to go to the next field. Type in that same value and press Tab again, finally pressing Enter to complete the entry on that third field. Now you may be wondering what these values represent. We'll see that in the next chapter when we talk about setting our scene units. Currently, 3ds Max is working in a unit list sort of mode.
These are so-called generic units that don't have any relationship to objects in the real world. We'll be scaling up objects to scale in the next chapter. Another thing that you will see in a primitive, such as this cylinder, in a Modify panel is its number of segments, also known as its level of detail. So I can adjust the number of sides to my cylinder and you'll see I'm reducing the level of detail. I can zoom in on that. Remember, I've got my Zoom Extents Selected.
This might be a good time to point out that there's a handy shortcut for that as well, which is the Z key. So you press the Z key on your keyboard and all four of the views will zoom to enclose the selected object. That's pretty handy. So you can see I can adjust the number of sides to my cylinder, the number of segments as well and this is controlling level of detail. If I did not have wires or Edged Faces visible in the Perspective View, I wouldn't really be able to tell what was going on with this level of detail.
In other words, if I press F4 to turn off Edged Faces, I really don't see any result here in the Perspective view, as I increase the number of segments. Of course, the number of segments does impact performance in our viewport and potentially could impact rendering output speed as well. So, I do want to know at all times what the level of detail is. So I'm going to press F4, so I can see that again.
The Modify panel as the name implies also has a lot of so-called modifiers that let you adjust the shape of the object in various ways. I'm going to dolly back a little bit here with Ctrl+Alt+Middle-Mouse. I'm going to make my cylinder a little bit taller. I'm just going to quickly add a modifier so you can see what that looks like. In the Modify panel, you'll see Modifier List and you can click here to display a list of all possible modifiers.
They are listed here by alphabetical order. You'll see that there are many, many of them. I'm just going to add one really quickly here, so you can see what it does. I'm going to click here to add a Bend modifier. Now you'll see I've got Bend stacked on top of my cylinder. If I adjust this Bend Angle, I can bend the object by different amounts.
This is called the modifier stack in which we're seeing essentially elements piled on top of each other. We start from a cylinder and then bend it. Notice that because I don't have very many segments in the height of the cylinder, it's looking kind of angular. If I wanted to see a softer bend, I'd actually need to increase the number of segments on the cylinder. The Modify panel gives me the ability to do that by simply clicking on the Cylinder in the Modifier Stack and adjusting these parameters, such as the number of height segments.
So as I increase that, you can see we're getting a nice, smoother result. I'll press the Z key to zoom in on that a little bit better. So, in this method, we can do nondestructive editing or so-called procedural modeling by simply adjusting a few parameters. I can go back up to the Bend modifier and adjust that angle and do all kinds of fun stuff, which we will see in the next chapter. So, that's a good introduction to the basics of the 3ds Max interface, how to navigate viewports, create objects, and assign a simple modifier.
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