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Improve your 3ds Max workflow

By Paul Hatton
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 11th August 2014
Software used:
3ds Max
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3ds Max has a wide variety of powerful tools to enable you to create pretty much whatever you want. We take a look at how you can improve your modeling workflow for better results


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Improving your 3ds Max workflow – previous chapters:
Top 10 interface secrets

In the past – and even to this day – I've wondered if my modeling techniques follow good practices. This encourages me to study other people's techniques and to keep a close eye on the modeling videos from Autodesk and the other content providers post online.

I especially like Autodesk's Chris Murray content because he does a great job of making users aware of those tools that we might not know about. Today we're going to look at some foundational building blocks that you need to know to about but may not have come across. By following these tips you will become a quicker and better modeler!

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This is a beautiful chair designed by Ora Ito and modeled in 3ds Max

Foundation 1: Auto Grid

Let's start off with an incredibly simple tool but a massively underused one. It's called the AutoGrid and when turned on it lets you model onto the sides of other objects rather than just to the main grid. When creating an object, at the top of the ‘Object Type' rollout there is a simple tick-box called AutoGrid. With this ticked you can create an object on any surface you want, and it's not just limited to faces that are aligned with the x, y and z axis.

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The Autogrid saves you having to align your object after you've created it. Removing the align step is a huge time-saver

Foundation 2: Object Isolation

The tool that I use way above any other when modeling is the Object Isolation tool. It is such a simple but wonderful tool. With your object(s) selected just hit Alt+Q and see the rest of your objects disappear. You can get them back easily thought by using the red light bulb icon underneath the timeline. This toggles the isolation selection. Use this tool to make sure you are focusing only on those objects which you care about.

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Focus only on what you need to with this tool that you'll use over and over again now you know it exists

Foundation 3: Object Visibility

To go alongside the Object Isolation tool, we also have the ability to make an object see-through. You might want to keep it visible in the viewport but be able to see through it. This can be done by right-clicking on the object, going to object properties and setting its display properties to ‘see-through'. You can also doing it with the shortcut Alt+X assuming the object properties are set to ‘By Object' and not ‘By Layer'.

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Maybe you want a way of seeing through an object but don't want to hide it. This tool is a great half way house for achieving exactly that

Foundation 4: Placement tool

In 3ds Max 2015, Autodesk released a long overdue tool which allows you to move and place objects directly onto other objects. It's called the Select and Place tool and it's beautifully simple but will save us a lot of time. Its button is on the top toolbar next to move, rotate and scale. All you need to do is drag your object until it collides with another one and you'll see it attach itself to the object. By right-clicking on the toolbar button you can also reveal a set of properties for how the placement is carried out.

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This new tool lets you select and place a tool all in one action. So if you spend lots of time placing objects on surfaces by aligning them and moving them then this is a tool for you

Foundation 5: Quad Chamfer

This tool has been a long time coming! 3ds Max users have been crying out for this for years. For quite a while there has been a plug-in called Quad Chamfer which you could purchase, but it's always good to have such a basic tool native to the software. I'm not sure what took them so long. The tool is contained within the standard chamfer modifier. You can then choose between a standard chamfer and the quad chamfer. The amount and tension of the chamfer should be able to give you any chamfer you desire.

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I know many people feel this should have been introduced long ago but better late than never. Chamfer with quads, not just with tris!




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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
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(ID: 291359, pid: 0) Eodeo on Tue, 12 August 2014 3:23am
I missed select and place. That will come in handy. Thanks for these!
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