With this tutorial I just want to show you, how the basic 3D Modelling works. For this I use the great programme 3ds Max 4.2, but this tutorial may work with other releases of max, too! I start with the Main Layout of Max, well, hope it helps you. :)
1. Window Options
These are the main four windows we will work with. I don't think i have to explain the windows "Top", "Front", and "Left", this is simply the side you see your Model from! (this is in 2D). In the "Perspective" View you see the 3D Model. If we now rightclick on the text (Top;Front;Left;Perspective), a list pops up:
The first 3 Lines (Smooth + Highlights; Wireframe; Other) are used to set how the objects are shown. If you use Smooth + Highlights, you see the Model with skin. If you choose Wireframe, you'll just see a wiremodel of your objects! (That safes performance). At "other" you'll find some other View options.
Show Grid means, that the 3D Grid is displayed (for example: In "Perspective" View in the picture 1 it is turned off). With "Show Background" you can display a background in one, or all, or whatever windows.
Sorry, but I don't really know what "Show Safe Frame" means, but it isn't really important. (Note by 3D Total team: "Show Safe Frame" shows a set of frames - "Safe Areas". It basically tells you to keep important elements inside the rectangles to avoid losing them out of focus due to video overscan when the image is output to a TV.)
With Viewport Clipping you can set the distance of View, that means, how far you can see!
Texture Correction, sorry, the same as "Show Safe Frame". (Note by 3D Total team: "texture correction" should be turned on for instant feedback when unwrapping the UVW coordinates using the UVW unwrap modifier.)
Disable View shuts the Window down.
At "Views" you can choose other perspectives, like "Right", or "Camera" (If you have a camera placed in the scene).
With "Undo View zoom Extends" you can repair a wrong moving of the camera.
With "Configure" you can choose lots of other options.
2. The Toolbar
Now I'll explain the toolbar:
With these arrows you can "undo", or "redo" actions.
With these you can link, and unlink Objects.
With this you can apply "Spacewarps" to objects.
This arrow (if it's pressed like here, it means that it's choosed) means, that you can select objects.
Here you can choose the kind of selection, like selecting by drawing a grid.
Here you can choose your objects from a list (very helpful when having many objects).
Here you can 1. move 2. rotate 3. scale objects.
With the left button you can manipulate objects (for example the diameter), with the right you can change which pivot/pivots will be used for scaling and rotation.
Here you can choose on what axis you can move your objects.
With the first symbol you can mirror objects. With the second symbol you can clone objects and line them up automatically. The 3rd symbol is used to align objects (for example to the camera).
Here you can open the Track View, where you can do lots of stuff with animations, and everything that's in the scene.
Here you can watch your objects in a scheme.
TheMaterial Editor gives you the possibility to work with textures.
Everything that has to do with rendering your models.
3. Modelling Options
Now I'll explain, how you create and modify objects.
First of all I'll explain the buttons to you. The upper line:
1. This arrow means, that you can create objects.
2. This bent shape means, that you can modify objects.
3. These boxes mean that you can modify the hydraulics functions and focal points here.
4. This wheel means, that you can modify, or create animations here, but it's also possible to work with the track bar.
5. Here you can choose, how the objects will be shown.
6. Here you can use plugins and so on (like the polygon counter).
The lower line: Create objects/effects:
1. The sphere tells you, that you can create objects with "skin" here (like boxes, or cylinders)
2. Here you can draw simple splines.
3. Here you can set lights.
4. Here you can set cameras.
5. Here you can use helpers.
6. Here you can use Spacewarps.
7. Here you can create different things, like a sun.
Here is only a modifier list, which I'll explain later.
1. With pivot you can set the pivot of an object.
2. With IK you can modify the inverse kinematics settings of various bones and linked hierarchies.
3. Here you can block movements, for example you can make an object moving only on the x axis, and block the other axis!
I'm always doing this with the track bar, it's for animations.
There is no lower list.
There's no lower list either.