Join Steve Nelle for an in-depth discussion in this video Aligning with precision, part of 3ds Max 9 Modeling.
- [Instructor] In this video I'd like to talk to you about some of the alignment options inside Max. Let's go ahead and drop a cube here inside the perspective view and right next to that let's go ahead and create ourselves a sphere. Now we'll activate the perspective, you make it full screen by using the LW command and my goal here is to now see whether or not I can't perfectly position the sphere directly in the middle of the cube. I'll right click go to the move command and see that in as much as I can get close I'm still a little bit away from being 100% accurate.
Well Max has got a specific tool called the alignment command. Watch the way this works. I'm going to come up here to the toolbar, here's the command right here we'll click on it and now I'm going to go ahead and click on the cube. What this is basically telling Max is I want to align the sphere to the target object, that being the cube and what we'll do notice this in the dialog box we'll align the center of the sphere with the center of the cube. I'll now simply click on the x position, leave the y position on and the z position and look what this has done.
Let's close this up, let's get a little bit closer in on this and arc rotate around and look at that. That ball is perfectly positioned inside that box. Max even offers a way to align one object to the surface normal of another. Now if you're unfamiliar with the term normal it's simply a way of defining the direction of face or polygon points, we'll be discussing normals a little bit later on in Chapter 2. Let's take a look at how the normal align command works. Now to do this we have a file, let's go ahead to file open, no reason to save, we'll go into the chapter one folder on your desktop and we'll choose from here normal align.
Very good. Now what I'd like to do is this. I'm going to take the bottom of the cone and see whether or not I can't perfectly align it to the side of this yellow object. Here's how the command works. We're going to select the cone, we'll come up under the align command, we'll hold down, under the flyout we'll come to the normal align that's this one right here. Now what Max wants me to do is to click on the surface I want to align, there's the bottom of the cone and now click on the opposing surface that I want to align to. In this case we'll say this side of the box, go ahead and click there.
Now the dialog opens up, we'll move that off to the side, but look what's happened. It's taken the bottom of the cone and precisely positioned it up against the edge of that box. Let's cancel that out and try it on a different side this time. We'll come up to the normal align, we'll click on the bottom of the cone, we'll come over here to the side of the box and click here and look at the difference between the two. I could even option here, I could even change the x, the y, and the z positions in order to be able to better position that. Now you can also precisely position things by typing in the values.
Let's take a look at that. We'll go ahead and do a reset. I'm going to go ahead and click on the sphere command. Now before dropping this inside the view port I'm instead going to open up this little area here called keyboard entry over in the command panel. Now you see four different things. The xyz and this radius, let's go ahead and put first of all a radius in here of let's say 50. Now the xyz is going to indicate where in space our pivot point on this sphere is going to land. (0,0) being the origin of the scene, let's see what happens when we click create.
Boom. And that's exactly where it's been positioned. This sphere with a radius of 50 has now been positioned right smack dab in the middle of our grid. We can continue on, let's take the z and let's move it 100 units up. Click on create again and look what's happened. Now you've got one right above that. Let's do this a third time. We'll come over here, let's go 200 this time on the z, and click one more time around. Very good. Now let's go ahead and activate a view port. Let's deselect everything and then hit the z command to zoom extend all.
Now let's talk about precisely changing the location of an object once its in the scene. Let's go ahead and activate the front view full screen. I'm going to go ahead and select the bottom sphere here and in the move command I want you to select that and then right click on that icon. What you get is this little type in transform box up and if you go ahead and move these values you can see how you're actually moving the object from one side to the other. You see that? If I come to the next one up for an example and I move it to the side, come to the next one up, move it to the side you can see the variance that that indeed makes.
Now in this option box you have what are called absolute world values and this is basically moving this in relationship to your world space and you also have offset screen which will move in a relationship to where it currently is in the scene. Now you have the same type in transforms with both the rotate and the scale commands also. So I'll activate the rotate command, right click and now I can rotate this in relationship to the scene or itself and I can do so in all three directions. The same thing holds true for the scale. Activate that, right click and again we can scale it in x, we can scale it in z, or we can do a three dimensional scale in any of the three directions.
Now Max also offers a couple really nice tools that allow you some control over spacing objects in your scene, let's take a look at those. The first one is known as the spacing tool. Now what it does is it allows you to make multiple copies of a selected object and have those copies accurately line up on either a path, which you specify, or in between two points that you pick on the screen. Let's show you how that works. I have a file for you to open here. Let's go to file open no reason to save. We're going to go back again into chapter one, intro to modeling and let's go ahead and choose the spacing tool.
Now what my goal here, I'll go ahead and close that box up, what my goal is here is to take this little pink colored telephone pole and have it ride along this blue path as if its maybe along the side of a road. Watch how you do this. I'm going to go ahead and select the telephone pole, this is what I want to space out with even copies. Now to get to this particular dialog, a little tricky here we have to take our mouse up where the toolbar kind of meets the command panel. See how the hand shows up? Right click and then from here let's go ahead and choose extras.
Now not much in here but the spacing command is actually found under here under the array, hold this down and now go to spacing. I'm going to go ahead move this to the side. Now what this is going to give me the option of doing is either picking a path in my scene or picking two points that I basically lay out. Let's first of all change our count. We're going to go ahead and take this to a total number of ten. I can from there choose the way I'd like to have these spaced. I'm going to kind of leave it the way it is. And I'm not going to pick my path. So I'll click on pick path, I'll click on a path and look what that's actually done.
Evenly spaced all the way across. Let's not commit to that. I'll instead hit cancel. Now if you want to instead look at this as far as picking two points on the screen, let's go to the top view for this one here. Very good. Now from the top view I'll activate the spacing command again and this time let's say we're going to make 20 copies. And I'm going to pick points, now watch what I do, I'll click on one side of the screen, I'll drag to the other and click. And what this does now it evenly spaces. I'll go ahead and apply that. This evenly spaces those out in between the two points that I picked.
So that's pretty neat how that works now there's one last alignment feature I want to show you. This one's referred to as the array. Let's take a look at that. Now the array command allows you to create an endless number of precisely placed copies using all three transformation commands all at the same time. It's really an amazing tool especially for those of you who are interested in creating architectural scenes in Max. Let's take a look at what it can do. We're going to see if we can't make a spiral staircase. Now without using the array command you'd not just be spending a ton of time making your staircase but you'd probably more than likely be pulling out your hair by trying to line things up.
Watch how quickly and easy you can do this using the array. Again we have a file for this. Let's go to file open, don't save. Staying in the same folder let's go ahead and choose Array Staircase. We're now going to see whether or not we can't walk that yellow step up the pole making a bunch of copies having each copy rotate as it goes and making sure that every step is evenly spaced in relationship to the one directly above it and directly below it. So quite a few things to take into consideration. Let's see what we can do.
Now the first thing is I want you to notice where this particular step rotates from. Let's go to the top view and I'm going to rotate it from there and I want you to notice that I've changed the rotation, I've changed the pivot point position on the step to actually the middle of the pole. This is going to be pretty important for this to actually work correctly. So change the position of the pivot, now let's go in for work. We'll go back to the perspective view full screen. Let's go see if we can't find the array command. Now this is going to be the same place we found the spacing tool so back up to the toolbar in between that and the command panel.
Let's go ahead and right click and from there choose extras. The Array Command is going to be found now what looks like the spacing. It's at the top here we go. Let's go ahead and click on this. Now quite an intimidating dialog box to start but actually it's going to be pretty easy what we're going to be doing here. Let's first of all change the number of steps. It's going to go from 10 to let's say 20 and what I now want to do is I want to move every one of these steps up a certain number of units in the z direction. The z would actually be going up and down. So let's go ahead and change the z here to let's say a value of 30 units.
Now as each one moves up I also want those to rotate slightly so again we'll rotate these in z and we'll go ahead and make this let's say 15 degrees. Let's go and type that in and let's go ahead and click on okay. And look what we've got. They've magically rotated and positioned themselves up the pole evenly spaced. Let's select the pole and actually arc rotate around this and take a look at what it looks like here. Look at that, they're all in perfect position. Now another thing that would be kind of fun to do on this, let's go ahead and undo that real quickly.
We're going to go back into the Array Command and this time I'm actually going to have these scale smaller as they go up so they'll continue to move up 30 units, they'll continue to rotate each 15 degrees and now we're actually going to have these get smaller as they climb the line. We'll do 95 and x, 95 and y, and take a look at what happens here. Click on okay and look at that, they actually get smaller as they go up. Let me select the pole here in arc rotate again. There we go look at that.
So that's pretty cool the way it works, now there's a ton of different things you can do with the array tool. Make a set of custom steps, pillars lining a mansion entryway, pickets at a fence, vertical post going up a staircase, stack of cargo boxes at the shipyard, all kinds of things. You know after all we've done in the last couple minutes I think you'll agree Max offers quite a few tools that you can use when your scenes are needing a little extra degree of precision. Now they're there for the taking, learn them well, they'll save you a ton of time and aggravation.
Now in our next video I'd like to touch on the importance of using reference material when you model. Let's take a look at that.
- Understanding the model-building process
- Comprehending the geometry of modeling
- Editing with 2D and 3D shape commands
- Extruding objects
- Lathing objects
- Lofting objects
- Creating a low polygon human character
- Creating architectural objects
- NURBS and Patch modeling
- Booleans and other compound modeling techniques
- Adding and minimizing geometry
- Grouping, attaching, and linking objects
- Merging and importing files