Join Chad Perkins for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding the interface, part of 3ds Max 9 Essential Training.
- [Instructor] Okay, so when we first launch 3ds Max, we get this welcome screen. Basically, this is access to a few intro movies about 3ds Max. This is a very nice feature, but as you go through this training series, you'll find that this becomes absolutely irrelevant, because you'll know this stuff and plenty more. You could also access online content by going to the AREA, which is a somewhat new feature of 3ds Max, but for right now let's go ahead and uncheck this, we don't have to deal with this anymore. I don't want this to show up at startup anymore, so I'm going to hit close.
Now, when we first open up Max here, we see that the interface is pretty complex, and it can be very intimidating for new users, and that's especially true if you're not coming from a 3D background. But it really shouldn't be that intimidating or scary at all, because it's kind of laid out in a pretty organized, intelligent fashion, and I'll just kind of give you a brief overview in this movie to kind of demystify it for you so it's not as scary. Now, I'm well aware that interface movies are probably the worst part of any video training series, and it's not exactly like bringing a werewolf to life or making great balls of fire, which we're going to do later.
But I'll make this quick, and basically only what you need to know. And again, this is just an overview, and the rest of the movies in this chapter are going to go a little bit more in depth into specific features of the interface. Now, the main area here that we're seeing are the View Ports. These provide different views of our scene. The next segment is going to be devoted specifically to different View Ports, and how to work as you're in these View Ports. Down here at the bottom, there's an area for scripting, on the bottom left-hand side.
There's an area for info. This area is basically just an info area. We get information as we're moving our objects and that type of thing, and there's some real-time feedback in this dialogue at the bottom. We'll cover this more in detail a little later. There's actually some cool stuff in this info area. And over here we have the animation area. This is where we set up all that we need to about animating objects and our scene. We also have this handy-dandy timeline. As we move to the right, we kind of scroll through time. And we'll be covering this in depth later on in the training series. On the bottom right-hand corner we have the navigation area.
We can use this to zoom in, zoom out, pan, move around, rotate, all that kind of stuff, and we'll be talking about this in the next chapter, actually. Over here on the right-hand side of the screen we have the command panel. This is where you will be spending an unbelievable amount of your time. Now, with all the pretty little icons and doohickeys over here, it's very easy to get confused and to be intimidated because there's just so much going on, but again, just like the rest of the interface, it's organized in a very logical way. The core part of this here are the tabs along the top.
Over here we have the Create tab, and so this is where you would want to go if you wanted to make something. If you wanted to make an object, or a light, or a camera, or any one of a number of things, you would want to make sure that you're under the Create tab. By default, if we're under the Create tab, we're going to make a standard primitive. So let's go ahead and do this. Watch how easy and fun this is to create in Max. Now I realize that we're just talking about the interface here, and in the next chapter we're going to be talking about navigation, and we're not going to talk about creating stuff until chapter four, but I want to give you a little teaser here, because this is so fun.
When I first opened up 3ds Max for my first time, I was blown away by how easy it is to create three dimensional objects. I always spent so long in Photoshop or another 2D program, trying to make objects look three dimensional, and when I saw how easy it was in Max, just a click and drag to make a three dimensional object, it blew my mind. Hopefully it will do that for you as well. I'm just going to go down here and click on sphere, which basically tells Max that I want to make a sphere. And creating a 3D sphere is just this easy. I'm going to go into the top View Port.
I don't have to click anything yet, to select the top View Port, just click and drag to set the size of my sphere. Ha ha, and look at that! A 3D ball, right there, created unbelievably fast. And as you can see from this mesh here, there's a lot going on, but it calculates unbelievably fast. I love that. And we're going to be creating all sorts of stuff later on. Your mind will be repeatedly blown. So once we've created our object, then we would go over to the Modify tab.
So click that, and this is probably where I spend a large majority of my time. These other tabs are also very helpful, and they have different uses that we'll be getting into here and there, but between Create and Modify, and the View Ports, that's probably where I spend 95% of my time when I'm in 3ds Max. Now this command panel can get a little hairy. Right now it looks pretty easy. We can see all of our settings here for this sphere, if we wanted to adjust it. But I could go down to this modifier list and add a modifier, and basically modifiers are kind of like effects.
They're things that change or modify our object in some way. So I'm going to just scroll down to this lattice effect. And as you can see here, there are loads to choose from. I'm just going to select lattice. It creates kind of an interesting effect. And as you go over to the right here, for the options for lattice, you'll see that we have this little scroll bar, meaning that we can't see all of the options for the lattice modifier. It's a very tiny scroll bar, so you might be saying, "Hey, you know what, there's no scroll bar on mine." It's there, it's just very, very tiny. It's a little grey bar here that we can click and use to scroll.
You can also click any blank area in the lattice modifier, and you'll get this little hand, and so you can just click and drag up and down with the hand to pan around. Also, in the Modify panel, you'll see this little dash. This can be really helpful for cleaning up things a little bit. If I click it, it will collapse this parameter, which is actually very helpful, especially if you have multi parameters in one object. And of course, we could click the plus to expand it and see all those properties again.
On the top of the interface we have the main tool bar. These are the main tools and features of the program that you will use most often. Be aware, also, that just like in the Modifier stack, you're not seeing everything, so when you get this little hand, as I have now, you have to click and hold it and you can scroll to the right, and there's more there. Now, this changes according to the resolution of your monitor, so it's quite possible that you might not be able to scroll, because you could be seeing everything if your monitor resolution is high enough.
And finally, we have the Menu bar at the top, and the only reason I mention this is because, throughout this training, I'll be saying, "Go to the Rendering menu," or "Go to the Customize menu," and every time I say that, just remember that I'm indicating that you should go to the top of the screen here at the Menu bar. Now, that's the overview of the interface. It wasn't that tough, so let's go on to talk about View Ports, the all-important View Ports where we will be doing the majority of our work.