Let's face it, there's a plug-in for everything, with no exception for 3ds Max. There are plug-ins for exporting, animating, unwrapping, lighting, modeling, twisting, turning, driving, spilling, exploding, launching, rendering, shading, and smashing. There are plug-ins to grow vines, build rocks, shape trees, make creatures talk, guns shoot, ships fly, and cars drive. There are even plug-ins that create fire, rain, snow, water, glass, metal, and more. Every once in a while, though, I find one that screams, "Hey! Look at me!” This year that plug-in is Para 3d, which can be found online at http://torabiarchitect.com/parametric-array/.
Para 3d is a very impressive 3ds Max plug-in for advanced, dynamic, parametric arrays providing users with the ability to array objects with an unlimited number of options. Para 3d allows users to control every single aspect of an array using node-based drag/drop actions we are familiar with by using the Material Slate Editor. Creating parametric walls, fractal pyramids, and arrays conforming to curves with the ability to change and update on the fly becomes a matter of simply clicking, dragging, dropping, or changing values. In a matter of minutes, users can present multiple concepts while manipulating objects heights, widths, rotations, thickness, and more while conforming to a multitude of shape or position controls that impact every object arrayed.
Makers of Para 3d have worked hard to provide an efficient program that uses the least amount of memory possible. After download, installation, and startup, 3ds Max users are directed to set up a few toolbars and license the software. Directions are clear and concise, with a multitude of text and video tutorials to assist users if they run into any problems. Once completed, users restart 3ds Max, create an object, and initialize the program.
Figure 1: Initialize the program
The program begins by asking users if they want to create an array or assign a controller, copy the object selected or create instances, keep the original object intact or not, and how many copies users want to manipulate. Once the options are selected, Para 3d opens with an attractive editor interface populated with a node representing the objects being arrayed.
Figure 2: Para 3d editor
The options are endless. With that said, I won’t cover any specific ones. But simply put, users can control virtually any number of values associated with an array using its node-based control and values. We have the ability to transform objects by position and rotation using the xyz values, scale objects, and alter the various width, height, and length values of every segment.
Figure 3: Array node
In addition, users can attach a multitude of controllers to each of the nodes’ values to manipulate them further. With controllers, users can force arrayed objects to follow curves, shapes, deform, or adjust in linear or non-linear fashion, following virtually any value or path a user desires.
Figure 4 – Controllers
Last I checked, there were more than 70 tutorials on the Para 3d website showing users how to complete complex tasks in just a matter of minutes. Please visit the site at http://torabiarchitect.com/parametric-array/ to see if this plug-in is right for you.