Keep up-to-date with Free tutorials!!

 

Sign up to our twice-monthly newsletter today for the latest tutorials, interviews and product information.

Sign me up to receive third-party emails from 3dtotal's partners, too!

- Latest news
- Exclusive Shop Offers
- Preview early content
- Plus much more

 

Not Ready to take that step? OK, Why not just Subscribe to the RSS Feed

 
submit tutorial
1
Improve your 3ds Max workflow: File handling

| Your Rating:
rating star fullrating star fullrating star fullrating star fullrating star none
(Score 3.75 out of 5 after 4 Votes)
| 21646 Views
| 0 Comments
| Comments 0
Date Added: 1st December 2014
Software used:
1960_tid_paul-hatton---3d-total---file-handling---main-image.jpg

Paul Hatton offers more helpful advice for 3ds Max users ? learn how to manage your external files and therefore keep your projects in control...


1960_tid_zfeature_artist_profile.jpg

Improving your 3ds Max workflow ? previous chapters:

Top 10 interface secrets
Better modeling workflow
Handling massive scenes
3ds Max animation tools
Organic placement using MassFx
An introduction to Particle Flow
Adding natural movement with the Flex modifier
Getting the most out of the slate material editor
Essential shortcuts

Today we are going to look at 5 tools contained within 3ds Max that help you better manage external files inside your 3ds Max scene. Keeping things under control is a good discipline for any visualizer, especially if you work in a team studio context. Knowing exactly how to find and control these external files will remove hours of unnecessary stress trying to track down those lost bitmaps! For each tool there will be a step explaining the tool followed by a step explaining the process of using the tool in 3ds Max.

Asset Tracking Explanation

The Asset Tracking dialogue box enables you to manage all of the external files that are contained within your scene. This includes, although not exhaustively, maps/shaders, IES files and HDRI files. Each of these files has a file location which can be stripped or redirected, enabling you to keep on top of your file locations. You can even move all of your bitmaps into one folder, and then set all the external paths to that new folder location. This enables you to keep everything under control and in one place.

1960_tid_paul-hatton---3d-total---file-handling---step-1.jpg
Asset tracking will help you keep all your external files under control

Asset Tracking Process

To access this dialogue box, head over to the primary 3ds Max menu in the top-left corner and go to References > Asset Tracking. Assuming you have some shaders in your scene, you will be presented with a list of files and their associated paths. Right-clicking on a specific file will give you a host of options which allow you to Strip Path or Set Path. You can also Browse to find the file or even View Image File. Use Shift+Left-click to select multiple files and perform batch operations.

1960_tid_paul-hatton---3d-total---file-handling---step-2.jpg
Asset tracking is easy to find in the main File Menu

Resource Collector Explanation

This tool is amazing! It's very simple and it performs a very straightforward task, but I still love it because it has saved me hours of time. In essence it collects all of the Bitmaps, Photometric files and the 3ds Max file into one directory of your choosing. It can even zip all that up into one single file if you need to send it to someone else. So if your project is very organized then this will collate them all into one place. You can then use the Asset Tracking tool to reassign the bitmap paths to this new directory.

1960_tid_paul-hatton---3d-total---file-handling---step-3.jpg
The resource collector has a simple interface with everything you need. Its simplicity is something that I love

Resource Collector Process

The Resource Collector is a utility you can find by going to the More? button in the Utilities panel. Double-click on Resource Collector and you'll be presented with a new rollout with a set of options. Firstly, you need to set the output path. This can be whatever you want. Then you have the option of what you want to be collected into your new directory, as well as whether you want that zipped up or not. There is also a neat checkbox for Update Materials which will reassign the paths in all the materials. Amazing!

1960_tid_paul-hatton---3d-total---file-handling---step-4.jpg
Many people don't explore the utilities section so I would definitely recommend having a look at what is there

Max File Finder Utility Explanation

This is another great little utility that many people don't know about. I think because these utilities are tucked away a little bit, often they don't get explored or highlighted in tutorials. This one is definitely worth a look though. In essence it lets you search for 3ds Max files containing specific properties. So you can search a specific directory for all the 3ds Max files containing a certain material, or for files using a specific plug-in, for example. You can also attach properties to specific 3ds Max files using File > Properties which makes the search process easier later on.

1960_tid_paul-hatton---3d-total---file-handling---step-5.jpg
This handy little tool can narrow down a search especially when you are working on lots of projects in a studio context

Max File Finder Utility Process

The Max File Finder utility can be found by going to the More? button in the Utilities panel. To open its dialogue box, simply click the Start? button. You are then presented with a set of fairly self-explanatory options. You can specify the Search Text and the Property type. With that done you can set the current directory and perform your search.

1960_tid_paul-hatton---3d-total---file-handling---step-6.jpg
This tool is once again located in the little explored utilities section

Manage Links Explanation

It is very common, especially within architectural visualization, to want to link external files into your scene. You could do this using dwg's, fbx's or even Revit files. We are increasingly sent Revit files to work on, but at times these do need remodeling, so we sometimes just use these as a reference. The Manage Links dialogue box allows you to attach files and then manage them after that.

1960_tid_paul-hatton---3d-total---file-handling---step-7.jpg
Managing your external CAD and Revit files is essential and it's easy with this little tool

Manage Links Process

Access the Manage Links dialogue box by going to the 3ds Max File Menu > References > Manage Links. This will bring up a dialogue box with 3 tabs. The first allows you to select an external file, set its scale and even apply a preset import. Once you've attached the file the second tab will give you all of your attached files which can then be reloaded, detached or even bound. This is helpful if you want to remove the link and bring it directly into your scene as an object.

1960_tid_paul-hatton---3d-total---file-handling---step-8.jpg
Find it over in the main 3ds Max File Menu

Set Project Folder Explanation

Most people like to work within their own project folder with their own naming conventions etc, but it can at times be helpful to utilize the file structure that 3ds Max provides. It ensures that all of your max files, bitmaps backups, previews etc, are contained in one place with a consistent naming convention. 3ds Max refers to it as a project folder.

1960_tid_paul-hatton---3d-total---file-handling---step-9.jpg
Some people like to make use of the built-in 3ds Max file structure

Set Project Folder Process

You can set the project folder by going to the 3ds Max File Menu > References > Manage > Set Project Folder. It's then as simple as navigating to your desired directory and clicking OK. You will now notice all of your auto backups going into this one location, which makes them easier to find if something goes wrong.

1960_tid_paul-hatton---3d-total---file-handling---step-10.jpg
The tool is simple because all it does is let you set the directory!

Top tip: Substitute Modifier

One absolute timesaver is the Substitute modifier, which lets you swap objects out for other objects. So you might bring in some AutoCAD objects but then want to swap them out with their 3ds Max equivalents. This is easy with the Substitute modifier.

1960_tid_paul-hatton---3d-total---file-handling---top-tip.jpg
This rarely used modifier will save huge amounts of time when swapping objects in and out

Improving your 3ds Max workflow ? previous chapters:

Top 10 interface secrets
Better modeling workflow
Handling massive scenes
3ds Max animation tools
Organic placement using MassFx
An introduction to Particle Flow
Adding natural movement with the Flex modifier
Getting the most out of the slate material editor
Essential shortcuts

Related links:

Check out Paul Hatton's personal site
Are you a 3ds Max user, or looking to start? You could try our collection of 3ds Max eBooks or purchase our books, 3ds Max Projects and Photoshop for 3D Artists

 
1
Related Tutorials

Know the Basics: Maya Part 2: Viewports and Navigation

by Paul Hatton
published on 2016-10-20

Keywords: Maya 2017, Tutorial, Basics, Viewport, Navigation

rating star fullrating star fullrating star fullrating star nonerating star none (3)
Comments 0 Views 5812

V-Ray 3.0: New Features: V-Ray RT explained

by Paul Hatton
published on 2015-05-27

Keywords: v-ray, new, features, render

rating star fullrating star fullrating star fullrating star halfrating star none (6)
Comments 0 Views 34438

V-Ray 3.0 Progressive Rendering

by Paul Hatton
published on 2013-11-29

Keywords: progressive, rendering, vray, 3ds max,

rating star fullrating star fullrating star fullrating star fullrating star full (13)
Comments 2 Views 185289

V-Ray 3.0: New Features: New and Improved Shaders

by Paul Hatton
published on 2015-06-01

Keywords: v-ray, new, features, render, shader

rating star fullrating star fullrating star fullrating star fullrating star full (4)
Comments 0 Views 25641
Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
no comments!
No comments yet. Be the first to comment!
Add Your Comment..