For this Making Of, an intermediate knowledge of 3D Studio Max and Mental Ray is required. I started work on this image after seeing a small photograph in a TV guide of Rodin's "Thinker", where the head had been replaced by a Logitech Quickcam, and I thought it would make a cool character.
I started out with the character, by finding a side and front profile of the Quickcam on Logitech's website (Fig01), and took those into Max. I then made a plane the same size as the image and made a standard material with the image, to set to the diffuse slot, and applied that to the plane for reference, and then placed the plane a little behind the centre line in the viewports grid. That way, all the lines and geometry that you draw, using the side viewport, appear in front of the image, so that you can see what you're doing (Fig02).
By right-clicking on the plane, and going into the properties, I froze the plane and de-activated, shown frozen in grey. That way the plane would stay in position at all times. I never use Max's image background (Ctrl-B) as reference, because I've had the image shift out of place, lock zoom, and pan all too often, and so for some reason it just doesn't seem to work for me. I then started drawing half of the profile of the camera sides using splines (Fig03), so that I could use the Lathe tool to create the geometry (Fig04).
After that I drew side profile splines for the parts of the camera that would later be cut out, using the front reference image (the microphone part, and the black part on top). Once I had those splines correct, I then used the Extrude tool, and made sure that the extrude length was large enough so that it would intersect with the complete geometry (Fig05). With that done, I selected all of the geometry and copied all of it once, and then hid the copied part so that I could used the Boolean operation to cut away the parts. I then selected the geometry and displayed the other geometry. Now, since I had the cut-out version selected, I could easily hide that, leaving the un-booleaned version. I then used Boolean again, but instead set it to Intersection, which then left me with just the intersected pieces that I could use (Fig06).