3ds Max Tips & Tricks

This month, we'll cover some great tips you like using 3ds Max.

Boolean Shapes

Procedural content has been steadily increasing in popularity; nevertheless, incorporating it into a particular project can pose challenges, primarily because of the time and technical investment required for its creation. In contrast, manually generating content may seem quicker; however, workflows continuously improve, allowing professionals to harness procedural workflows more effectively. 3ds Max's Boolean tools are a great example.

With a spline selected, in the shapes panel, select the drop-down and choose Compound Shapes. Here, you can perform a Boolean operation on multiple shapes, retaining their original shapes and allowing you to adjust the individual parts as needed. The operation also allows for chamfer and fillets and uses its Boolean explorer to adjust stacking and interaction. See Figure 1.

Figure 1

Next, apply a multi-level bevel modifier to get it some depth and form.

To enhance your object quickly, apply a traditional mesh Boolean with Chamfer, Weighted Normal, and Turbosmooth modifiers. See Figure 2.

Figure 2

Utilizing those modifiers and this workflow allows you to create dynamic and procedural objects that can be easily manipulated throughout any step in the stack. See Figure 3.

Figure 3

Forms and Shapes from Images

A common task for 3D professionals is to convert 2D images into 3D objects. While most of us have used CAD, Photoshop, or Illustrator to generate those shapes, 3ds Max has an interesting approach worth considering. By applying a Displace Modifier to a plain with a high subdivision level, we can slice it in the center and extract the shape. After adding the displacement, add an Edit Poly modifier, press three after the slice (this will automatically select the cut), and extract the shape from the panel options. See Figure 4.

Figure 4

Rail Clone

Rail Clone has been around for several years and offers a free lite version. However, many don't know how powerful it is. If you like the procedural spline-based mesh generation in software like Unreal Engine and Unity, you'll like Rail Clone. It offers similar and powerful functions to generate procedural, path, and spline-based content quickly. It's excellent for building everything from stadium seating to sidewalks and castle walls. See Figure 5.

Figure 5

Smarter Modifiers

Innovation with 3ds Max is found by creating intelligent ways to combine modifiers to produce work quickly. The example below demonstrates one way to do that: combining the Data Channel modifier with the Chamfer modifier weighted property to control the level of chamfer for macro and micro details on an object. See Figure 6. To see that in action, visit the video linked here:

Figure 6

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