Why the Nissan R390 GT1? I had just modeled my Peugeot 206 (not that I own one) in Rhino3d, and wanted to try out a different technique (poly in 3ds max) so I could choose the best one for me (guess which one I like most?). I didn't want another everyday life car, and I wanted to paint some textures too. I searched for some Le Mans websites and found many great cars to model, and I was lucky enough to find blueprints for this particular one, so the choice was made.
This tutorial should be suited for mid to advanced users.
I will assume you know all the basic 3ds max 5 UI and tools. I don't like step by step tutorials because i think you learn more when you have to figure something out (step by step tuts also take too much time to write, eheheh), so i'll just give you a general idea of the process i followed. If you're reading this, i don't think you really need to model an exact copy of my Nissan R390 GT1 (which, by the way, has already been greatly modeled by other guys), but you just want to learn how to use the available tools to model any car, or anything else for what matters. Anyway you can feel free to send me an e-mail and ask for clarifications, if needed. In no way this is THE way to do it right, it's just one of the many ways to get a mesh out of the many (great) tools given; i am writing this tutorial just because i find it a quite simple and logical workflow for my tastes. I am a self-taught maxer, so you might recognize techniques you've already seen in other tutorials: there's really nothing new here, just some outlines to guide the starters. In fact, i'm writing this also for me: by putting it in html format i get a scheme i will use again in the future: when i started i really was improvising from what i learned in the past from other guys out there (the 3d community is something incredible, almost everyone is wiling to help you out, with this tutorial i'm trying to give a little, a very little, in change for the many great tips and helps i received from the people out there).
I divided the 1st part in 7 sub-sections, each one well distincted from the others by the tools and techniques involved. I hope to be clear enough for everybody, keep in mind i am not english and i am doing this in my free time, so i might rush some stuff too much.
Two last things
You will need just 1 plugin to complete the tutorial (and you could away without): it's called "solidify", just search for it on the "max 4" section of www.maxplugins.de and install it (it's totally free).
Even if not necessary to follow the steps I write here, I feel you should install and use also the fine Meshtools from Laszlo Sebo. With the new 3ds max 5 poly interface they are not important as before, but still you might need some tool which is missing in the max interface (I mainly used the selection tools). To download and install them point your browser to http://www.scriptspot.com/, search for "meshtools" and follow the instructions.
I need to thank a couple of guys for their help and support: Luca "Lucky" Balsamo (mind refueler, great supporter and great maxer and architect), Laxina (for providing a wireframe of a part I really didn't know how to model), the guys at www.maxforums.org for just being great and always being there and always helping me out when needed. You guys rule.
So, we should be ready to start by now: