Join Steve Nelle for an in-depth discussion in this video Getting around in the viewports, part of 3ds Max 2010 Essential Training.
One of the earliest points of frustration for most new animators is being comfortable navigating around the four windows that make up the vast majority of 3ds Max's interface. Those windows are officially referred to as Viewports and it is going to vital that you become comfortable working in them as soon as possible. You see, the Viewports are basically the windows into your 3D world. And your ability to navigate both yourself and the things you build within those windows is essential on working in this, or any other 3D program. The number of views, usually totals 4, although that layout can change.
Each window is going to display your scene from a different direction, with each view's orientation listed in the upper left-hand corner of that view. If we put something on the screen, I think you will get a better idea of the way things work. With the Teapot on the screen, we can more easily see the orientation in each view. The upper right-hand corner displaying the Teapot from the front, the upper left-hand corner displaying the Teapot from the top, and the viewport being displayed from the left-hand side in the lower left-hand view.
These three windows serve as kind of 2D representations of your 3D scene. The lower right hand view, the Perspective on the other hand, gives you more of a true three-dimensional view, as you can see all three directions within your scene. What's going to be essential is as you are working in your views you keep your eyes on all four windows. It's very similar to the way you might drive a car, taking in what you see out of each window. If when driving, you lock yourself down to only looking only at the front window, well, you are missing three quarters of the equation. So, to avoid hitting something or someone, you keep your eyes scanning through all four windows, right? The same idea should carry over as to the way you work in your viewports.
Be aware that you can work in only one viewport at a time. The Viewport currently active being represented by a dark orange band around its border. So, as you can see on the screen, the Perspective view is the viewport currently active. Any mouse button can be used to activate a view. But I would like you to get in the habit of using the right mouse button to activate. The reason why will become evident when we get to our discussion on selecting. So, activate the front view with the right mouse. Let's go to the top and then over to the left. Notice, again, that the dark orange band around the viewport is changing its position each time we activate a view.
The size of each view can be controlled by positioning your cursor where the viewports come together then drag into one side or the other. To reset the layout, you will want to put your cursor back on top or where the viewports come together and simply right-click. Each viewport has a series of controls for that view in the upper right-hand corner of each window. Drop-down menus for each control can be accessed by clicking on the category name, with either the left or right mouse button.
While we are talking about those settings, a couple of things to note in particular. If you go into the Plus sign, and then down to Configure, the Layout tab, at the top of the dialog, allows you to control both the layout and the number of viewports. If you would like to adjust the viewport display characteristics as far as the shading you see in the view, you can do that by clicking on Smooth and Highlights. Here, going down to Edged Faces, will show the object and not just wireframe, but also the shaded edges.
Going back in and changing the option to Wireframe, will display all your scene objects in that view in Wireframe mode. There's a couple of handy keyboard shortcuts that you can use to do the same. If you hit the F3 command, that will take any Wireframe view to Shaded. Once it's in Shaded mode, if you hit F4, you will toggle back and forth from your objects being displayed in either just Shaded mode or Shaded and Wireframe. Let's try that in the front view. Right-click to activate the front view, then hit F3. To see both the Shaded Surface and the Wireframe edges, now hit F4.
Let's return the view to Wireframe by again, hitting F3. And you can do this in any of your four views. If you are wanting to change the direction of viewport points, there's a couple different ways to do that. Let's right-click in the front window to activate it. If I wanted to change the front view to the top view, I would simply go under the name Front, at the upper left-hand corner and from here, change over to Top. Before doing so, I want you to notice the keyboard shortcuts, off to the right-hand side. Go ahead, now and click on Top.
Now the shortcut keys make the process even easier. All you have to do is to decide the viewport you want to switch to and then type the first letter of that direction. So, for an example, if I wanted to take the upper right-hand window into a Left orientation, I would hit L. Back to a Top orientation, I would hit T and then to return it to the original Front orientation, I'll will hit F. You'll notice the Teapot has been positioned a little bit towards the top of the view. Here is a shortcut key you are going to be using all the time. Hit the letter Z. That will center whatever you have selected, in all four views.
Down in the lower right-hand corner of the interface, you will find a series of navigation commands that help in controlling what you see in your Windows. These controls should be one of the first things you commit to memory, as they'll do wonders in helping you navigate around your 3D world. Let's take a look at them by starting on the top row with the far left icon. Holding your mouse on the icon reveals the fact that this is the Zoom command. Click on the icon and position your mouse in the middle of the front view. You'll notice your cursor is changed to look kind of like a magnifying glass.
Hold the left mouse down and pull back. Now push forward. You'll see, what this does is it zooms in and out of the active view. You can cancel out of this, or any other command in Max, by simply holding the left mouse down and right-clicking. But that zooming in and out can also be done by simply rolling the middle mouse wheel. Let's try that in the front view. We'll right-click to activate that. I'll put my mouse in the middle of the Teapot. I'll hold the wheel down and I'll pull back.
Rolling forward zooms in and I'll get it back to pretty much the same position we started. Now where the Zoom command worked in only the viewport you had active, the Zoom All, to the right of that in the lower right-hand corner, works in all four views. So we'll activate that, position our mouse, in any of the four windows, hold the wheel down and then pull back and push forward. Again, I'll right-click to cancel, before letting go the left mouse. Probably the most important icon in the lower right-hand corner is the one to the right of Zoom All.
It's called Zoom Extents. To show you how it works, let's kind of switch around the way our viewports appear. I'll zoom way in the front, way out in the top and then maybe position the teapot on left-hand side in the left view. This is a great example, of how you don't want to work. Other than the Perspective view, it's very difficult to get a handle on what's going on in any of the other three windows. This is where the Zoom Extents command could be indispensable. Let's activate the Top view and click on that Zoom Extents icon. Look what this did.
It took the active view and centered our object within that window. So, again, we see a command that only works on the viewport that's active. To the right of Zoom Extents, you have Zoom Extents All. This works in all four views. Go ahead, now and click on it. Look what's happened. You have got yourself re-centered in all four windows and you are now ready to get back to work. If we go to the bottom row of icons, on the far left you have the Zoom Region. This enables you to draw a window around the area you are wanting to zoom in on. Let's activate the command and then in the front view, draw a window around the Teapot's lid.
You can continue zooming even closer by drawing a smaller window. We'll now return the teapot to being centered in the view by hitting Z. To the right of the Zoom region, you have the Pan command. You'll see the way this works by, again, returning to the middle of the Front view, holding the left mouse down and then moving the mouse. Now, you might think that you are actually moving the teapot, but notice the grid behind the teapot going along for the ride. Here is what's actually happening.
It's not the teapot that's moving, it's you, the way that you are actually looking at the teapot. It's almost like you are sitting in front of the teapot, sliding your chair from left to right. That Pan command also works by not rolling, but holding down the middle wheel. Let's try that in the Top view. We'll active that. The wheel goes down and you can see how that works. Let's activate the Perspective view, so we can take a look at the icon to the right of Pan. It's called Orbit. Now watch how this works. Click the icon, which brings up a gold ring in the middle of a view.
If you now position your cursor in the middle of the ring, notice the picture on the cursor turns into arrows pointing in two different directions. Hold the left wheel down and now move your mouse. This is referred to as orbiting the view. Now again, you are not rotating the teapot. You are kind of spinning around in the way that you are looking at the teapot and all depending on where you position the mouse will determine how you navigate with the Orbit command.
Last but not least is the icon on the bottom row far right. It's called Maximize Viewport Toggle. What this will do is take whatever view is active and make it fullscreen. Clicking the button again returns you back to four views. Now remember, it works only for the viewport that's active. So if you want to take the front view fullscreen, you'll activate that, then again, click the icon. There is a very handy keyboard shortcut for Maximize Viewport and that's Alt+W. Be sure to remember that as you will be using it all the time.
You also have a handy little icon on the upper right-hand corner of each view called the ViewCube, which enables you to quickly navigate between various scene orientations, all within a single view. So we can quickly change to see how the way things would look from the left, from the top, or back to our original orientation. So that will give a quick overview of working in the views. Now, here is the important things to remember. One, you can only work in one viewport at a time, and that's going to be the one that's active.
Two, you can activate a viewport with any mouse, but get in the habit of using the right-click, and three when working make sure, to keep your eyes moving across all the views, not getting locked down to just one. You practice up and keep those suggestions in mind, and you'll be on your way to getting the most out of your viewports.
Thanks to PhotoSpin.com for use of their photos in this course.
- Moving, scaling, and rotating objects
- Creating detailed models using a variety of modeling techniques
- Working at the sub-object level with both 2D and 3D modeling commands
- Building and editing realistic materials
- Setting up lighting and shadows for a realistic look
- Understanding the principles of animation and applying them to a scene