Import a vector design as a template for 3D modeling in 3ds Max.
for architectural visualization is to import a 2D drafting document, such as an AutoCAD drawing. However, it's almost never the case that we can use the drawing directly in order to, for example, extrude walls. We need to do quite a lot of work to the drawing in order to make legal splines that can be extruded and it'll set up things like layers and units correctly for our architecture.
I've already chosen that here. If you switch that over you'll need to click Set and restart 3ds Max. Let's also check in on the current units. Go into Customize, Units Setup, we want to be working in the Metric system, but that's just the Display Units. The System Units in 3ds Max are defaulted to inches and I do recommend leaving it at inch. The System Unit is the internal accuracy of 3ds Max, so let's not mess with that, we'll leave that at its default.
Click OK. We can also change the grid spacing. Right-click on any one of the magnet icons, go to the Home Grid tab, and set the Grid Spacing to 1 meter. We can also set the Perspective View Grid Extent to 20 meters. We're ready now to import our AutoCAD drawing. Go to the File menu and choose Import, Import, in the current projects import folder I've got an AutoCAD drawing, which is from another course.
AutoCAD_2018_Essential_Training. Select that and click Open. And in the AutoCAD Import Options we've got the Model Scale here and I could've set the 3ds Max internal System Units to millimeters to match the incoming file, but it's just easier for me to leave the 3ds Max System Units at their default of inches and enable this Rescale switch here. I also recommend enabling Weld nearby vertices in the Geometry Options.
Click OK and the AutoCAD document is imported. Now most of this is labels and grids and a whole bunch of stuff that's not really relevant to extruding walls, so let's hide those layers. Go into the Layer Explorer and I want to hide everything except for A-DOOR, A-WALL, I-WALL, and S-COLS, which is the columns. So I'm just disabling visibility for all of those other layers.
Additionally, there's some stuff in this default layer here. We can open that up and just select all of those objects using the Shift key and disable their visibility as well. OK, let's check out what we have here in the Top view. I'll activate that viewport and maximize it with Alt + W. Dolly in closer with the mouse wheel and position the view with the middle mouse button. This section of interior wall is a good example of a situation in which we can use a combination of duplication of the existing splines and simply tracing over them.
In order to better visualize what we're doing we can enable vertex ticks and we'll do that by going over to the Layer Explorer and select the I-WALL layer, right-click on that to get the quad menu, and go into the layer Properties, and enable Vertex Ticks. And because we changed our custom UI default settings tool settings to DesignVIZ the objects that are inside that layer will inherit the display properties.
All right, cool, so click OK. We can build the inside surfaces of this interior wall with rectangles, so that's a pretty simple one. Let's get in closer here. Go over to the Create panel, Shapes, Rectangle. But before we draw anything we should actually snap to the vertices. Let's go over to the Snaps and hold down the 3D Snap icon and choose 2D Snaps.
That way we know that we're actually drawing on the construction plane, which is the X, Y plane of the world. Additionally, we want to snap to vertices and back to the other side of that spline.
And once I've done that I can right-click and I've now added onto the existing line. We'll need to do the same over here too. So starting from that end point click on it and just go all the way around. Now here in this area we don't have a vertex that we can snap to that will maintain the orthogonal shape of these walls, so we'll have to come back and fix that later.
I'm going to click here, so that at least this new vertex will be in the correct position in the x-axis. And just going back down again, tracing all the way around. And once I've gotten to the end I can right-click to exit that operation. And also right-click to exit the Create Line tool. And once again, let's check our work by hiding that I-WALL layer. And we've got pretty result there.
Now we need to fix this up here. So let's turn I-WALL back on again and in the Editable Spline subobject types let's choose Vertex. And we want to move this vertex up, so that it's at the same Y position as this vertex over here. And to do that we can go into our Snap settings, so right-click on the Snaps and under Options Enable Axes Constraints.
That's very useful. When that's on and we choose a vertex with the move tool we move it only in Y and you'll see that it's trying to snap to vertices. Well, this is where things get really clever, I'm only moving in Y, because I clicked on the y-axis of the transform gizmo, but I'm moving my cursor way over here and I'm able to snap only in Y to these other vertices.
All right, that's very helpful. Once I've done that now I've got the correct shape to that spline. All right, now I just need to attach the other rectangles representing the inside surfaces to this selected spline. But right now the object won't be really legal, we'll need to just do one minor adjustment, which is go into Segment mode, select this top segment, and we can turn off snapping, just move that over a little bit, because we need to have a solid wall.
We can't have two coincident segments. And once again, checking our work by hiding that interior wall layer, and in fact, we can hide the other layers too while we're at it. So that looks pretty good so far and we still got our Editable Spline object selected. We can exit out of subobject mode if we want and scroll down and choose Attach, and then click on those rectangles. And those are all attached to the current object.
Once we're done we can right-click to exit Attach. And at this point we're probably OK to extrude, but don't be surprised if you have issues with the extrusion, because our end points may not have properly welded. Let's give it try. I'll go out to the four viewport layout once again with Alt + W. With that object still selected press the Z key to zoom in. And in the Perspective view with that Editable Spline selected we can go to the Modify panel and choose Extrude and give it an extrude Amount of 4 meters.
And we can see that as I was anticipating it didn't actually correctly extrude. And it's not the Extrude modifiers fault, it's the fault of our spline itself. So let's get in closer on this. I'll go back to maximize in the Perspective view with Alt + W. Looks like I've got the selection brackets on here, I can turn those off with the J key. We just need to weld all the vertices on the Editable Spline. Let's go down to the Editable Spline and select by Vertex and then just drag a rectangle around all of them to select them all and then simply execute the Weld command with the default threshold of .003 meters.
And once that's done we can exit out of subobject mode, go back up to the top of our modifier stack, and we've got our walls extruded correctly. And that's all the time that we have for this demonstration. We still would need to cut holes for the doors here, and of course, we could use the existing plan document as a guide for that. But again, we don't have time to go through the Boolean workflow for cutting holes. I did cover that in another course, which is 3ds Max 2018 Essential Training.
And that's the basic workflow for bringing in an AutoCAD document and tracing over it and duplicating various parts of that plan to prepare it for 3D extrusion.
AuthorAaron F. Ross
Skill Level Intermediate
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