Join Steve Nelle for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding 3D space, part of 3ds Max 2009 Essential Training.
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One of the most difficult things for someone new to the world of 3D is to come to grips with the fact that even though you are working on a flat two-dimensional computer monitor, you are in reality controlling a three-dimensional environment, an environment that doesn't just go up and down and left to right, but also in and out. So there is an additional dimension that one needs to look after and it's going to take little time to get the hang of looking and thinking of things in those terms. When you approach a 3D world on a 2D screen, it might help if you compared working in a three-dimensional environment to the way you drive a car.
When cruising down the road, one is going to do a much better job of navigating if they keep their eyes on all the windows, right? You don't limit yourself to simply looking at only the front glass or just to the review mirror. No, you take it all in, you constantly check your position all directions so you are not just down the road but also avoid running into something else. That makes sense, right? Well you are going to find 3ds Max works in large part the very same way. You see when you create something on the screen, the object will be displayed in a series of windows, windows that are referred to as viewports, a subject we will be covering in more detail in an upcoming video.
Those viewports are your windows into your 3D world, each pointing in a different direction and each offering vital information that you need and just like with the windows on your car, you get different information out of each window. So as you begin building your 3D scenes to avoid all the roadblocks and obstacles that might pop up, you have got to keep your eyes not just open, but continually moving from one window to another, taking it all in from all angles. That's going to be essential. Now later in the title, we will be discussing the fact that each direction in Max's 3D World has been assigned a letter. Those letters being X, Y and Z. Every 3D program uses the same kind of setup so it won't be long until you feel comfortable thinking and working with those letters in mind.
For now though, to keep things easy to understand, I will simply be identifying the three directions as up and down, left and right and in and out. Oh, I will be meaning X, Y and Z but I want to start by using something you are already comfortable with. Now once you are feeling a little more cozy and have your feet firmly on the ground, I will start using those official labels X, Y and Z, but to get us going, we will just keep things nice and simple. Now as you start moving things around, you are going to come across a very helpful little icon that's going to pop up directly on top of what you are working on.
It's called a gizmo or more specifically something Max refers to as the Transformation Gizmo. It's a little three-colored device that tells you that you are ready to move, rotate or scale your object. Let's take a look at that gizmo little closer. The gizmo is like a compass in that it shows you the direction that your X, Y and Z directions point. Once you feel comfortable in how you read it, you are going to find it extremely helpful in keeping your bearing straight. It's manipulating that gizmo that will make it easy for you to get your object to go up and down, in and out or left to right.
We will be going over all this in detail. So for now, I just need you to get the overall concept of what the gizmo is and what it's used for. The big thing you have to get a handle on right away is how important it is to keep your eyes focused in each direction of your 3D world and again just like you are looking through each and every window in your car. Now you might feel little confused or overwhelmed the first couple of times you take it all in, but those feelings fade pretty quick. Then you have got yourself up and running and that's when the real fun begins. Bottom line, when the compass points up, the gizmo in other words, take advantage of it. That's why it's there.
You learn how to read it, which isn't so tough to do, and it will work wonders to keep yourself pointing in the right direction. Now, in our next video, I would like to talk to you about the importance of lightening up your load as you work in Max. You know the more complex your scene, the more 3ds Max will have to struggle to make the needy calculations. There are things you can do to ease that burden and we will take a look at those in our next lesson.
Special Note: Further 3ds Max 2009 features, such as materials, lighting, cameras, animation, and rendering, will be covered in 3ds Max 2009 Beyond the Basics, coming soon.
- Customizing the 3ds Max interface to improve workflow
- Importing, opening, saving, and exporting files
- Mastering selection techniques and transformation commands
- Understanding coordinate systems and pivot points
- Modeling with Extrude, Lathe, Loft, Boolean, Patch, NURBS, and other functions
- Creating shapes, compound objects, and architectural objects
- Using the 2D and 3D sub-object modeling commands
- Constructing a room and building a video camera
- Working with the Displace, Morpher, TurboSmooth, and Hair and Fur modifiers