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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.
Graphite is a super-set of the tools available in the traditional Editable Poly. So, that means that Editable Poly has a lot of really cool options, and you can do great work and many people have done great work for a lot of years using Editable Poly. But now we have Graphite, which extends the Editable Poly toolset, and in some ways makes it easier and better. So, let's take a look at what we can do here with both the traditional Modify panel and the Graphite ribbon.
So the most basic thing is to select sub-objects. So currently, I've hit the Q key, so I just got the Select Tool active. I can go into sub-object modes, like, for example, Polygon. I can click to select polygons, or I can drag a selection rectangle. Very good! I can do the same sub-object selection modes from within Graphite. So you'll see on the left-hand side of the ribbon, I've got all of the sub-object modes. So, for example, I can select Edges and click on edges to select them, or vertices.
Okay, so that's pretty straightforward. Next, we'll look at edge loop selection. So an edge loop is a series of connected edges that are joined end to end. So we can do that either from the Modify panel or from Graphite ribbon. So I can go into Edge mode, and what I want to do is I want to select all of these edges here so that I can manipulate them. So, I'll click on one of these edges and then in the Modify panel, I can click the Loop button. Now, I've selected all of those.
I can hit the R key to use my Scale Tool, and I can shape that. This is in preparation for creating an extrusion. I'm going to want to actually create a cylindrical shape that sort of pops out from here. In order to do that, I need to have the edge loop set to the proper size. So, that's using the loop selection in Editable Poly. Graphite makes it even easier to do so. So, if I go over to Graphite, I'm in Edge mode, currently, and if I click on an edge, hit the Q key, so we're not distracted by that Scale Tool.
So, I've got an edge selected, and I've got a Loop button here, and that behaves the same as the Loop button over here. I can go back to scaling with the R key. Very good! Go back to the Q key, which is Select. But even better, Graphite has a Loop Selection mode. So, all you have to do is click once on an edge, and the entire loop will be selected automatically. That's found here. So I'll enter Loop mode.
I'm still in Edge sub-object. Click on any one of these edges, and then the entire loop is selected. Pretty cool! So I can do that over here as well. I've got a loop selected. Very good! Then I can go back to scaling or adjusting however I want. So, I'll use the R key. Scale that up or down. Great! So, now let's look at using some of the topology modification tools, such as Extrude.
So, if I want to pull this area up here and generate new polygons, I can use Extrude to do that. Extrude works best in Polygon sub-object mode. I want to select all the polygons here in the center, and I could go and select them in various ways, but I'm going to do it kind of a clever way, which is I can just select that center vertex, and then convert that selection to polygons. So, I can choose Vertex and click that center vertex.
Hit the Q key so we're just looking at the Select Tool. This is not quite a hidden or obscure command, but it's one that's not immediately obvious. And that is if you hold down the Ctrl key while you change sub-object modes, you'll convert the current selection to another sub-object type. What that's going to do, in this case, is going to select all the polygons that are touching this vertex. So, I'll hold down the Ctrl key and click on polygon, and boom! I've just selected all of those polygons. Pretty cool! The same thing works over here in Graphite.
I've got a single vertex selected. Hold down the Ctrl key and enter Polygon sub-object mode. Then I've got all those poly selected. Now I'm going to do the Extrude. I can do that, once again, either from the traditional Modify panel or from Graphite. So, you'll see there's an Extrude command here under Edit Polygons. I've got two different ways of doing it. I can click the Extrude button. Then I'm in a purely, sort of intuitive interactive mode. I'll just click and drag to extrude that.
That's all there is to it. In this case, I don't have any bells and whistles, like I can't set a specific height for the extrusion and so on. So, if I want to have more control, I can use the settings or options. So, I'll hit Ctrl+Z to undo that Extrude command. You noticed, in the Modify panel, some of these buttons have little Settings buttons next door to them. If you click on one of those, then you'll get this so-called caddy. So the caddy is a replacement for an old traditional options box.
This is intended to be more immediate in the interface. So, here I have the ability to set the height by dragging on this parameter here, left or right, or I could type in a value, like if I wanted to be exactly 1 foot, I type in 12, because I'm currently working in inches. Press the Enter key, and now I've got a 1-foot extrusion. If I like what I have here, I can click the OK button, the little check box. If I don't want to execute this, I can click Cancel. So, go ahead and hit OK.
So, it's a simple extrusion from within the Editable Poly, Modify panel. We'll do this, once again, also from Graphite. So, I'll hit Ctrl+Z to undo that. Up in Graphite, you'll see, okay, once I'm in Polygon sub-object mode, I've got a Polygons section here to work with and up in the upper left-hand corner of that is the Extrude button. So, once again, I have two modes. I can activate the Extrude Tool and just drag that up, Ctrl+Z to undo.
If I want to get at that caddy, I can hold down the Shift key and click on the Extrude button, and I'm back at adjusting it. With numerical values, I can hit 12, press Enter, and I've got an extrusion of 12 inches. Additionally, within the caddy, you'll notice that there's a little Plus sign, which is Apply and Continue. What that will allow you to do is to execute the command and then see a preview of the next command. So, if I press this Plus sign, the first extrusion has been executed, and now I'm seeing a preview of the second extrude.
Now, this is dependent upon my current selection. So if I change the selection, different polygons will be extruded, or if nothing is selected, nothing will be extruded. So, for example, if I click off the object, then I don't see any preview, because nothing is selected. If I go around and select individual polygons, you'll see we're getting an immediate feedback on what we're going to extrude. So, if I hold down Ctrl, I could go through the motions here and select all of those.
There's one other little thing I'd like to show you what this is if you want to do a selection, sometimes it's helpful to use different selection modes in 3ds Max. This isn't just a Graphite thing. This applies across the board. I can move my Graphite panel out of the way a little bit so I can get at my main toolbar. Your Selection Region up here on the main toolbar has got a flyout. So, you've got a lot of options in here. You can select by Rectangle or by Circle. You can draw a fence. You can draw a rubber band or a paint selection.
So, we can do a Circle Selection. I'll Alt+middle-mouse to tumble here a little bit and middle mouse to drag, and I'm using the Circular Selection Region. I can draw this out. I've got this polygon selected. But you'll notice that it's also selected some stuff back here that I didn't want to select, and that's a common thing that will tend to happen. You can avoid that by activating Ignore Backfacing here in Graphite. So, if that's on, then when you create a selection, it's only going to select things that are facing towards you, in this case, polygons that are facing towards my current view.
You will notice, of course, though that it selected these here, because they were actually facing towards my current view. So, Ignore Backfacing doesn't know anything about whether a polygon is hiding behind another polygon. All it knows is whether a polygon is facing me or not. I can also use the Paint Selection Tool, which looks like a little aerosol can. That's kind of cool, because I can just click and drag to select things.
So with Paint Selection, I've still got the same issue, where it's selecting things that are facing towards me. So I can use the Alt key to deselect those. So, that's Paint Selection, pretty helpful! Cool! So, I've got another extrude here, and I could just hit OK here to execute that. Then finally, there is another variation on Extrude, which is called Bevel, which gives me the ability to outline the edge here.
So, I've got an edge loop surrounding the selected polygons and Bevel will allow me to outline that, or not really scale it, but change the shape so that we can get a tapered extrusion, or a beveled extrusion. So, that's up here, directly below Extrude. Once again, I'm going to hold down Shift and click on that, so I can get the caddy up. I've got the Height of the Bevel, and then the Outline Amount here.
Again, I'm seeing a preview. Again, I can hold down the Alt key to get a slower movement to the adjustment here. I can hold down Ctrl to have a faster adjustment. So, if I don't hold down any keyboard keys, then it's sort of like the default speed of adjustment. Alt is finer adjust or slower and Ctrl is a grosser adjustment or faster.
So that Alt key does come in handy a lot because you want to do these fine-tune adjustments. Okay, so if I'm happy with that, I'll go ahead and click the check box to execute that. That's just a little bit of an introduction to how you can use traditional Editable Poly tools within Graphite.
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