Join Steve Nelle for an in-depth discussion in this video Modeling with precision, part of 3ds Max 9 Modeling.
- [Instructor] Let's talk about modeling with precision. Now, most of the applications you model for will take a if it looks right, it is right approach. Others, though, like architecture or mechanical design or maybe constructing something from the courtroom will require you to use a much more precise way of working. Now, because of that, 3ds Max offers a very robust set of features that enable you to work in a more exacting way. Let's take a look at a few of those options. Let's start off by talking about setting up your units of measurement. Let's go ahead and create a box here in the Front view.
Let's now activate the Front view going full screen with the keyboard shortcut Alt + W. Now I want to see what size this box actually is. Let's go to Modify column. We've got a length of 218, a width of 301. 301 what? Are these inches, feet? I have no idea. That's the reason that you have the ability, being able to change your unit setup because by the default they're going to be these generic units that, frankly, don't make much sense. Let's do this. Let's go to the Customize pull-down menu, and let's choose from there Unit Setup, and from here you can see the Generic Units was what was set up by default, but we can change these to a metric measurement.
We can change this to a custom measurement that we can specialize, or, in this case, let's go ahead and use US Standard. Now, from here, we can choose feet and decimal inches, Decimal Feet, Fractional Feet. You can read these along with me, or let's just use the feet and fractional inches. Now, we can also choose how far down we want to go. Let's just say we're going to go down to a half inch. Last thing I want to mention before closing this dialog box is the default units, feet or inches. If you have it set to Feet, and you type in the number eight, you'll get eight feet. If you change it over instead to Inches and type in eight, you'll get eight inches, so there's the difference there.
Let's change it back to Feet, and let's say OK. Now what you'll notice, we now have a more exacting way of measurement, so we have a length of 18 feet, a width of 25 feet, and it's going to be much, much easier for you now to determine how large or how small things are in your scene. Now that we have our units of measurement set up, let's talk about some of the snapping options inside Max. I'm going to go ahead and create a sphere for our scene, and I'm going to now simply move the sphere around the screen. Now, you can see how freely it's going from one side to the other. Now, watch this instead.
I'm going to come up to the toolbar. I'm going to click on this little icon that kind of looks like a magnet with a three next to it. It's called snap toggle, and now look at the difference. Notice that my mouse is being trailed by this little crosshair, and it looks to be snapping to the grid points on the screen. See that? Let's grab this and move it, and look how this is much different than before. If I hit the S key, you can see how smooth it is. If I take the S key and put it back on, you can see how I'm snapping this into position. Now, it looks like it's snapping the grid points. I can change that, though.
We'll come up to the icon, right-click, we'll turn off Grid Points, and we'll instead activate Vertex and let's say Midpoint. If I close this out and now move this around, look at this. I'm able to snap it to the vertices on the ends of the box or to the midpoint lines, which make it a very nice way of being able to move. Now, you also have the ability of using, let's go ahead and reset. You have the ability of using an Angle Snap command, so when you rotate something, maybe, to the side, maybe you created it so it's standing straight up in your scene and you want it to lay flat on the floor.
Well, in this particular instance, we're talking about an even 90-degree rotation. Let's see how easy it is under normal conditions. I'll go ahead and create this cylinder here. We'll activate the Front view and maybe take that full screen with Alt + W. Now watch what I'm referring to here. Let's go to our Rotate command. We'll grab the blue ring, and as I rotate this, if you look at the numbers above this in yellow, you'll see that it's a very uneven rotation going out to two decimal points. By the way, you could also see the numbers down below the timeline. See where it says X, Y, and Z? The numbers would also read there.
Now, if I wanted to rotate this and even increments, I could go right next to the snap command and activate Angle Snap. Keyboard command for that would be A. Now watch the difference. As I rotate this, it's basically snapping to five-degree increments, which makes it very easy for me to come down an even 90 degrees. If you want to change the number of degrees it snaps to, simply right-click on that button. Watch this, I'll change this to 45 degrees, and now look what happens. Each time that I rotate this, it's rotating it in 45-degree increments.
This makes it very nice when you've got maybe like a propeller that you're kind of rotating around and you want each of the blades to be at a different orientation. We also have ability of snapping with the scale command. That's going to be actually right next door to the Angle Snap. Here it is, Percent Snap. Now, as I scale this, look what's happening. Again, look below the timeline. I'm going to point that with my mouse. Down here, 30, 40, and 50 on the timeline right below. Watch these numbers as I snap this. It's actually scaling this now to 10-degree increments. You see that? Again, you can change those numbers by simply right-clicking and that's where the value is there.
Very good, so there's your snap options. Now, one more thing I want to talk about here. Every time you create a new object on your scene, the initial position of that object is automatically going to be determined by the position of the grid that you see in that viewport. Max calls that grid a construction grid, sometimes referred to as a construction plane. Now, by default, when an object is created, its pivot point rests directly on the grid in the viewport that it was made. It's just the way that Max works, but it doesn't mean that you can't change that around.
Max offers a couple different ways to use grids. Let's take a look at that real quick. Let's do a reset here. Let's go ahead and work in the Perspective view, and I'll show you what we're talking about here. If we make a cylinder up against the Perspective view, you can see the bottom of the cylinder rests up against that home grid. A box would work the same way. So everything we make is in relationship to that home grid, but it doesn't have to be that way. Let's do this, let's open up a file here. We'll do a File, Open. No reason to save.
We'll open up the chapter one, Intro to Modeling, and why don't we use the Using Grids? Now, in this instance, the same thing would happen. The cylinder here would be made directly up against the home grid. Now, let's say that I want to make this so it's kind of to the side of the box. Max offers what are called helper grids. You can find those in the command panel under the Helpers tab. Let's go ahead and click on that. We'll find the word Grid, and why don't we now make this in the Front view? You can see how it's lining up there in the Perspective. Now let's make the Perspective view full screen.
Now we're going to move this out a little bit. I'll right-click and go to my Move command, pull this away, and what I now want to do is see whether or not I can't create that cylinder so it's laying down up against that home grid. So we'll go ahead to the Cylinder command and see what happens here. Oh, look at that, it's not. It's still going up against the home grid. You know why? Because we haven't activated this helper grid yet. Let's do that. We'll go to the Views pull-down menu, choose Grids, Activate Grid Object, and now notice that the home grid has temporarily disappeared.
If we now make that cylinder, look at that. Every one of those is now made directly up against that. We can always go back and reactivate. Let's go to the Views pull-down. We'll choose Grids, activate the home grid. Now, even though the grid shows in the scene, it's no longer being used. Now we're back to the way it was before. You also have the ability of being able to construct a new object directly off of another object. Let's do this, let's clear out this scene here. We'll do a File, Open Recent. We'll go back to Using Grids.
Very good. Let's make the Perspective view full screen. Now watch this, this feature is called AutoGrid. I'm going to go back to my Cylinder command, but before creating the cylinder, about an inch above that I'm going to activate this little button here called AutoGrid. Now, as I move my mouse from the viewport, notice that it's being trailed by this three color little icon that appears to be changing direction as I move it on to a new surface. Watch what happens with AutoGrid. I'm now actually able to make something directly off of something else in the scene.
So it's going to be perfect, let's say, if we have a couple birds in our little room here that we want to have perched up on this. So this is the way the AutoGrid button works, and you can see that. So there you go, a couple very handy options for modeling with precision. Now, in our next video, I'm going to show you a few things about aligning objects. Let's go to 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