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Basic Modelling Techniques in 3ds Max

By Michael Bauer
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Software used:

6. Now we are going to make a particular adjustment to our first cylinder.  Select it and uncheck the Smooth box. What this does is tell Max not to smooth the object. By doing so we see that the sides of our cylinder now have a more pronounced visual impact. To be more accurate, it is turning off all smoothing groups. We'll get more into this later, but for now I just want you to understand what impact this option has on our geometry (Fig.07).

Fig. 07

Big difference, huh!

Now it's time to learn something new that's really going to help you out.

7. With our unsmoothed cylinder still selected, use the Rotate tool, and while holding Shift (yes we are making a copy) rotate the cylinder 90 degrees (Fig.08).

Fig. 08

Tip: turn on Angle Snap Toggle (Fig.09) so you can make this adjustment easier.

Fig. 09

Now make the following adjustment (Fig.10).

Fig. 10

Note: I just rotate the view not the object, at this point.

8. Go to the Hierarchy tab and click on Affect Pivot Only. Then hit Center to Object. By doing this you'll notice that the pivot point moves from the base of the cylinder to the middle. Note Max shows you that you are working on a pivot point by creating the blocky arrows around the pivot point (Fig.11).

Fig. 11

9. Before we move on, I want you to do the same thing for our original cylinder (the unsmoothed one - you'll see why in a minute) (Fig.12).

Fig. 12

Don't forget to turn Affect Pivot Only off!

10. Back to our smaller cylinder (the second unsmoothed one), select it and use the Align tool (Fig.13). Then select on the first cylinder to align the small one to the large one (Fig.14).

Fig. 13

Fig. 14

In the window that opens just make sure that the settings are as you see in Fig.14, and then hit OK.

So what happened here?  Obviously, by using the Align tool, we made our smaller cylinder pop right to the centred pivot point of the larger one. The align tool is something that you should be using a lot - it is way too convenient to not have it in your arsenal!

By adjusting our pivots we have enabled ourselves to have some cool control over modelling manipulations. Let's take a look now at some more adjustments that are made easier because of what we just did.

11. First off, switch to your Top View, make sure we are in Wireframe mode (F3), and then rotate our cylinder -15 degrees, like in Fig.15.  What we are doing is centring this cylinder to the face of the larger cylinder.

Fig. 15

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Jeong on Mon, 11 November 2013 5:37pm
Thx! Im Max beginner. Its Fun and very good tutorial for me! xD
Neylian on Mon, 26 November 2012 12:33am
Thank! I just started with 3d max and was looking step by step tutorial for beginners! Helped me a lot to learn and master more fundamental skills of modeling! Thank u 1000000 infinite times! :D
Patrick on Thu, 22 November 2012 12:22am
Ohh, you're my master. Thanks for this marvel job!
Nouzie on Fri, 04 May 2012 8:06pm
Thanks for this tutorial. It`s great!
Krs on Mon, 26 March 2012 5:26pm
Fantastic tutorial, loved it, thanks to this lone tutorial I've gotten into Maxscript and having a blast making ridiculous techno-tentacle shapes! :)
Mr Fidget on Sat, 17 March 2012 6:07pm
Thank you very much for this simple, yet powerful tutorial.
Patrick on Thu, 23 February 2012 4:03pm
wow. that was a very very good tutorial, i still cant believe you made that from one little shape :D thx a lot man :)