Join Chad Perkins for an in-depth discussion in this video Customizing your interface, part of 3ds Max 9 Essential Training.
- [Instructor] I teach in a lot of classes in 2D programs, like Photoshop, Illustrator, and the like, and in all of those programs you can customize your user interface, also abbreviated often as UI. But in most programs, customizing the user interface is pretty self explanatory and simple, so I hardly touch on it, if at all. Now in 3ds Max, it's a completely different story. Things get pretty hardcore, and it's not so easy to figure out on your own. Now we talked about customizing the user interface.
Here are the two most common things that are done to customize the interface. Number one is, we can go over to the right side of the screen and if we're over the line between the viewports and the Command Panel, we'll get this double-sided arrow, indicating that we can expand this to two different columns. Now I realize that in this stage of the game, it looks pretty pointless because we have all this blank space, and our viewports have shrunken in size. Now as we've been talking about, that Modify tab gets pretty dang hairy, so this could really bail you out of a tough and annoying situation, and you have to keep scrolling and scrolling and scrolling to get down through the Modify tab of the Command Panel.
For now, I'm just going to collapse this back to one column by clicking on that line again, and moving to the right. It's also very common when you customize you're user interface to show and hide different toolbars. Now we've talked about the Main Toolbar here at the top and the Command Panel here on the right-hand side, but there are others that we can hide or show. If I right-click in a blank area here, on the Main Toolbar, I realize it's a tiny little space, but we'll get this drop-down, and right now, as you can see from the checkmarks, we're seeing the Command Panel and the Main Toolbar, but we're not seeing any of these other toolbars.
These are more for specific purposes, things that you wouldn't use all the time, so by default they're turned off. If you're using a previous version of 3ds Max, like Max 7 or 8, you'll notice on the left-hand side of the screen, there's another vertical toolbar called the reactor toolbar. If you're home sick, and you miss that feeling, or if you want to actually use reactor which we'll cover at the end of this training series a little bit, just hit reactor and we have this floating toolbar. Now we can dock this to the left-hand side of the screen as it was before, and I'll show you how to do that in just a second, but let's talk about how to get a docked toolbar, meaning one like the Command Panel, that's built into the interface, how to get that one or one like it to float; to move wherever you'd like it to.
First what you have to do, is get the cursor over, and you have to find a spot where you get this icon; you get the cursor with these two little squares next to it. That means that if I click and move, I will actually undock this panel, which means that it will become a floating panel, where I could put it wherever I want it to be. Now don't be tempted, I know that this gives you a lot of power, a lot of control, a lot of flexibility, and so there's a temptation to kind of always float this.
Trust me on this one folks, it really works better docked. In 3ds Max, there's just too much going on. Now, later on in your journey through 3ds Max, if you find that you've mastered keyboard shortcuts, you have access to all the features and functions that you use constantly, through keyboard shortcuts, you might want to float this and then just hit this checkbox to close this panel, and you don't have to worry about it anymore, and your viewports will be significantly increased in size and you'll have more room to work. For now though, I'm going to redock this panel. So I'm going to right-click here on the top of the bar and I'm going to select Dock, and I have two choices, I could Dock it to the Left or to the Right.
I'm just going to select Right here, and we're back to square one. So those are the two most common ways to customize your interface, to expand the Command Panel to two columns, and to show and hide toolbars, but there is much more we can do in the way of interface customization inside 3ds Max. I'm going to go to the Customize menu at the top and select Customize User Interface. I could also get here by right-clicking on the main area of the toolbar, and simply clicking Customize; it's the same dialog box.
So by default, the Toolbars tab opens, in the Customize User Interface area. I'm actually going to go to the Keyboard tab here, and it's here in the Keyboard tab that we can customize our keyboard shortcuts, also called Hotkey's by 3ds Max. I'm going to scroll down here, and as you can see, some features like Asset Tracking, already have their own keyboard shortcut assigned. I could change that if I want to, or I could go down to one, like the Edit Poly Modifier, and I could type in here with that selected, that would be Alt+Ctrl+P, and right now Alt+Ctrl+P, and as you can tell here under the Assigned to area, it's not assigned to anything, so I'm not stealing this keyboard shortcut for anything else.
So if I wanted that to be my new keyboard shortcut for the Edit Poly Modifier, I would just hit Assign. And that was just an example, I don't really want to change it to that, so I'm not going to do anything about that. And I don't think we really need to go too much into detail of this very powerful Customize User Interface dialog but it suffices to say that all that stuff is here. There's Toolbars, you could make new toolbar's and put only the tools that you use in that toolbar. You could also adjust the Quad menus, which we'll talk about in a minute, and other menu items, and also you could change the colors that 3ds Max uses.
I'm just going to close that up for now. Now a couple other things real quick. Go to the Customize menu. You could also go under Show UI, and you could show or hide big areas of the program including the Track Bar, which is basically our animation here. If you're doing modeling only, or if you're outputting to a still image, like for architectural rendering for example, you probably won't need to animate anything, so you could go under Show UI, and simply uncheck Show Track Bar, and that gives you a little bit more room for your viewports.
I'm going to bring that back however. And finally be aware that you could also, save your user interface scheme, or load a user interface scheme, and if you get things the way that you want 'em and you're worried that you'll blow it, you could also lock the UI or user interface layout. Now, before, when we were talking about moving panels around and docking them and that type of thing, I mentioned right-clicking, but right-clicking in Max actually gets pretty crazy, so the next segment is actually purely devoted just to the powerful right-clicking features and functions of 3ds Max.