Join Steve Nelle for an in-depth discussion in this video Working in the viewports, part of 3ds Max 2009 Essential Training.
Probably one of the earliest points of frustration when working in any 3D program is becoming comfortable with navigating around in the 4 windows that make up the vast majority of your interface. Those windows are officially referred to as viewports and they serve as a way to look into your 3D world. And you can imagine just how important they are as you position adjust the things that you have on the screen. Let's see if we can learn a few things about controlling them. When you open Max by default you will be greeted by 4 windows. Each looks at your scene from a different direction or orientation and it certainly becomes evident as we create something on our screen.
So you can see this teapot looks completely different from the top view which you see in the upper left hand window then it would from the front which you see in the upper right. Now the name of each direction the viewport points can be found in the upper left hand corner of the window. So we look on the top left we are looking from the top view. If you look at the top right you are looking from the front view. The lower left window will give you an advantage point coming from the left. And then the lower right we have a viewport named perspective which is more of a 3D view. Now the important thing to remember is when you are working make sure you keep your eyes on all the views.
You never simply want to get locked down to a single picture. It would be very similar the way that you drive the car. I think your ability to navigate the road and avoid accidents is going to be severely hampered if you are simply looking directly out of the front windshield. No to do it right you are checking out the back route of your mirror and also certainly on both sides. So try to do the same as you are working in Max. Now a viewport can be worked in only once it's been activated. You can do that by actually using any of the mouse buttons. So the left will work as will the middle as will the right, you will always be able to tell which viewport is active because of the yellow box it surrounds the window.
Now in as much as any mouse button can be used to activate a window I would like you to get in a habit of using a right mouse click. That will become more evident of why that's important as we get a little deeper into the title. Your viewports can also be resized by placing your mouse in the middle where they intersect and then when the cursor shows up you can simply then move that to the side. When you want to get it back to the default layout simply right click and from there choose Reset Layout. Now if you right click on any of the viewport names you will get a drop down list that displays the most important options for that specific view.
In here you can change the orientation of your view, you can change the shading characteristics of a given viewport and you have a couple other options that pertain to how and what display in that given view. Now as it pertains to changing the orientation of the view know that you have keyboard shortcuts that you can also use. If for an example if you wanted to change the front view to the top view as opposed to simply selecting the command you could type the first letter of the viewport you are trying to switch to. So in this case T if you instead wanted to change the front then let's say the left you would simply type L. Now when it comes to navigating around the viewports we want to pay extra special attention to the navigational tools located at the bottom right corner of the interface.
These are buttons that are not just extremely important but frankly need to be memorized. Let's take a look at the couple of you maybe using most often. If you go to the top row far left you will find a button called Zoom. If you activate that button put your mouse inside the window, notice the cursor kind of changes to a magnifying glass, hold the left mouse button down and as you pull back you will zoom out and then pushing away as you are zooming in. The Zoom command can also be used in all 4 views by moving directly to the right of that and choosing the Zoom All button.
So with the viewport active we will simply move away and then maybe back to where we originally were. By the way you can also use the middle mouse wheel to zoom interactively inside the active window. Now if things are a little out of focus because you will either zoomed way out or way in YOU can use the Zoom Extends button to the right of Zoom All. Clicking on this will take the active viewport and basically resizing whatever objects were in the view so that there is biggest possible yet they still all show on the screen. The button directed to the right of that actually works in all 4 views.
So here is the Zoom Extends All. We also have the ability of being able to region zoom into an area. That's done by again activating the viewport, changing to the zoom region icon which is on the bottom row far left. Using this will enable us to window around the area that we would like to zoom in and you can see how this works. I will go back and recenter by using Zoom Extends. We also have the ability of doing what is referred to as panning the view. This is done with the icon directly to the right of that again put your mouse in the viewport hold the left row down and this would be considered to be panning the view.
Now one important thing to notice here is you will notice the lines behind the teapot which is referred to the grid is moving along with the teapot. Know that panning the view does not move your object it simply moves you as the way that you are looking at your view. You also have a command name orbit which you can find directly to the right of this. Clicking on the button will bring a gold ring onto the screen. Now watch the way the cursor changes when I put my mouse inside the ring. If I now hold the left mouse down I can actually what is referred to as orbit the viewport.
And by moving my mouse into different locations within that view I can orbit in different ways. Lastly you have the ability of taking any of the windows and making them full screen. You can do that with the icon on the bottom row lower right called maximize viewport toggle. Continuing to click on the icon will revert back either to your 4 views or back to one. We have got a very helpful keyboard shortcut for this one it's Alt+W. Okay that will get you set up. Now here are the most important things to remember. You can only work in one viewport at a time and that's the one that's active.
And you can activate a viewport using any of the mouse buttons but get in the habit of using the right. And when working, make sure to keep your eyes on all the viewports and not just one. If you get all that under control and I promise it will pay big dividends.
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