Join Chad Perkins for an in-depth discussion in this video Seeing through viewports, part of 3ds Max 9 Essential Training.
- [Teacher] Okay, so let's talk about viewports. And just to make sure that we're on the same page, if you're continuing on from the previous segment, you'll notice that my screen looks a little bit different, and there's a really handy way to make sure that we're always on the same page. Let's just go to the File menu, and select Reset. I'm going to say I don't want to save my changes, no thank you. Yes, I do really want to reset. And now we're on square one together. Now, again as I mentioned previously, when you first open Max, you're greeted with four different views.
And you're all essentially looking at the same thing, and that is what is going on in your scene. Now, I'll be referring to the term scene a lot. Scene is a generic 3D term that refers to the environment in which you work. Now if you're in Photoshop or Illustrator or some other 2D application, objects don't have a real depth. You can simulate it, but they don't have a real thickness or a backside. So, 3D applications are almost always set up like this where there's four viewports so that you get a better sense of what's really going on in your scene.
Let me show you how this works. I'm going to go over to the Command panel. I have Create selected by default, and standard primitives here. I'm going to select Pyramid, and Pyramids are a little bit more complicated. You have one extra step that you need to take in order to create one beyond what we did with a sphere in the last segment. So with Pyramid selected, I'm going to go over to my left viewport, and I'm going to click and hold and drag a square first, that's how we create a pyramid. Then when I let go, I'm going to be actually creating the tip of the pyramid.
So I'm going to let go and now move down. Now, as you look in my top and front viewports, you'll see that as I drag down and back up, I'm controlling the height of my pyramid. But if I look in my left viewport or in my perspective viewport, I see no such thing. So this why we have four viewports when we're working in 3ds Max so that we can see all the dimensions of our object. Just looking at one will not get the job done.
If the left view were a 2D application, well, what you see is what you get. If this were Photoshop, this would just be a box. There's no hidden tip behind it, but we can use the additional views to gauge what is really going on again in our scene. Now, you'll notice that there are four different views, but one of these things just like on Sesame Street is not like the others. These three views here, left, top and front are called orthographic views.
And orthographic views are a little bit different animal. Orthographic views are 2D views of 3D objects, and because they are 2D, there is not really any perspective. Now you don't have to know what I'm doing here. I'll explain how this works as we go into creating objects, but I'm going to select the Move tool here, and in the top view, I'm going to click on the Y axis and move this back. Now, in these other two viewports, we're seeing that, but from the front view, because we're moving it along it's 3D axis, because it's a 2D view, it's not changing in perspective.
It's not getting bigger or smaller. It's getting closer to us in the front viewport and farther away which in a 2D view means nothing. However, in our perspective view, I'm going to hold ALT and the middle mouse button to arc rotate around this, and again we'll be talking about this in depth, so if you didn't catch what I'm doing here, don't worry about it. I'll talk about it in a minute. But I can move around, and as you can see, this object definitely does have some dimension to it. And if I moved it away from me, it's going to get smaller as it would in real life.
So we have three 2D views and one 3D view by default. Of course we can change this, but this is usually the way I like to work, and I think it's a great default. At first it might be a little bit irritating, but trust me on this one folks, it really works. As you're working on mesh models and whatnot, you're going to want to have these orthographic viewports to be able to see really what's going on in objects that you're adjusting. And it also pays to have one perspective viewport so you can see how it looks in 3D. Now, you'll notice that the orthographic viewports are basically just wireframe views of our object, and by default, our perspective view is set up to show smooth and highlights.
So even though our pyramid is green, we're seeing a little bit of shading on this side, a little bit of lighting. Now this does not compare obviously to the real 3D lighting that we're going to set up later on in the training series, but it does give you a basic idea of the 3Dness if I can make up a word, of our object. And as we'll see when we get into modeling, having both really helps. And what's really cool is that you can toggle any view back and forth between wireframe and smooth and highlights. The handy dandy way to do this is to hit the F3 key, and as I hit F3, I'll go to wireframe.
So I'm having like a 3D wireframe here. It's kind of interesting. Hit F3 again and I get smooth and highlights. The orthographic views can also show a smooth and highlight view. Hit F3 and there you go. Now we're looking at the bottom side of a pyramid in 2D here, so it's not all that interesting, but suffice it to say, you can do that if you wanted to. So I'm going to hit F3 just to get back to a wireframe view. This is the way I actually like to work. I like three wireframe orthographic viewports and one smooth and highlights perspective viewport.
Now if you're new to 3D, you might want to rewind that last sentence. There's a lot of nerdy technical jargon in it, but it's basically a long way of saying I like the defaults. And by the way, you can right click on the name of a viewport to change from wireframe to smooth and highlights if you'd like to, but keyboard shortcuts, I'm just going to hit F3 here to get back to wireframe. Keyboard shortcuts are really the way to work in 3ds Max. We'll talk about that a little bit more in the next segment and as we go through the entire training series. Now be aware also, a few other little bells and whistles about working with viewports.
If you are in any viewport, meaning that it's selected and you can tell if it's selected or not by this yellow boundary around the view. If you were in a selected viewport, you could change the view to any other view by using some handy shortcut keys. For example, even though we're in the left view now, if I wanted a duplication of the front view, I could just hit F for front, and it becomes the front view. I could also hit P to make this another perspective view. So maybe I want a wireframe perspective view and a smooth and highlights perspective view.
That's totally legal. I could hit T for top, and I can hit L again to get back to my left view. When you first start working in 3ds Max, those may not be the most valuable shortcuts to you, but I guarantee as you start feeling your way around these viewports and getting really comfortable with working in Max, those few keyboard shortcuts are really going to come in handy. You will use them often. Now these are also very customizable. We can go to anyone of these dividers in between, and stretch this up to resize them. If we want to focus on one or two views, we could also go to the center where we get this really cool move icon, and we could resize all of our windows at once here to make on really big or really small.
And we could also, when we have a viewport selected, hit ALT and the letter W, and that will maximize the selected viewport. Again, that keyboard shortcut is ALT and the letter W at the same time. ALT W to maximize or to restore your viewports. You could also do that by hitting this button here, but I prefer to use keyboard shortcuts all the time. So it's a little bit more natural for me to work that way. Okay, so that's basically what you need to know about working with viewports.
Now let's get on to talking about how you can customize this interface to your own liking.