Keeping it Civil in 3ds Max

Figure 1

The cost of infrastructure and development is constantly rising, and as the industry advances toward providing visual solutions to expensive and complex design problems, the ability to provide alternatives quickly and professionally can mean getting or keeping a client. With the use of AutoCAD® Civil 3D® and 3ds Max's Civil View, this process can be made simpler.

Civil View for 3ds Max® allows the import of Civil 3D content with an automated approach.  Upon import, materials are mapped and assigned automatically. The Civil View tools assist with the import and addition of 3D content. In addition, as a project continues to change and evolve in Civil 3D, the changes can quickly be translated to 3ds Max. 

The first step is simple.  We'll export our Civil 3D file using the Civil View export option, where we choose to place our .vsp3 file and proceed to import the file into 3ds Max.

Importing Geometry

Start by selecting the menu, then choosing Civil 3D (VSP3D) file under the Geometry Import Option shown in Figure 2.  Once complete you'll see the import panel, where you can select the objects you wish to import. This might include points, pipe networks, surfaces, alignments, sites, or corridors.  It is recommended importing only the objects we know we need to use. Additional elements could potentially be difficult to manage or slow down production.

Figure 2

After selecting the objects, 3ds Max will prompt to globally shift the coordinates as shown in Figure 3. There are several reasons it asks this question, but ultimately Civil 3D is used for real world applications, and coordinates often range in the thousands or even millions place. 3ds Max was constructed to perform very complex calculations, but its accuracy deviates the larger the numbers get.  By automatically applying a shift to the file in 3ds Max, it places the geometry in position where it can present it without error.  With that understood, we'll want to choose the "yes" option.

Figure 3

Draping Images

Orthographic imagery has become a necessary component in both design and visualization. Autodesk understood this and ensured that Civil View recognized world coordinate files associated with orthographic images, allowing for easy import.   Simply by selecting the target surface in 3ds Max Design, then choosing the Draping tab as shown in Figure 4, users can apply the appropriate image to their surface effortlessly. 

Figure 4

Road Markers

Civil View recognizes baseline and alignment geometry and gives us the option to place roadway markings at that location, or alternately parametrically place markings at other locations with various gap lengths and widths as needed, as shown in Figure 5.  These markings maintain a permanent connection to their alignment.  In addition, specific marking styles can be associated with feature lines in Civil 3D, allowing for visual accuracy directly on import from Civil 3D.

Figure 5

Figure 6

Figure 7

Adding Street Furniture, Vehicles, and Signs

Adding street furniture, vehicles, and signs is simplified by selecting Object Placement Style Editor under the Civil View menu. Here we choose the Parent Shape (in our case, being the centerline of the road), and then select the Add New Element icon. Here we have the option to add vehicles as shown in Figure 6, furniture such as street lights and gantries, trees and plants, signs, cameras, and primitives. Once selected, we are asked for longitudinal and lateral placement options shown in Figure 7.

At this point we've completed our scene and have completed this tutorial covering the basic steps for constructing a scene using 3ds Max Civil View and Civil 3D.

Appears in these Categories