Autodesk 3DS-Max - 3D Modelling: Navigating a Scene, Creating Simple Objects like Spheres and Trees

A Quick Tutorial on 3D Modelling in Autodesk 3ds Max  
This tutorial is our own walk-through of the instructions given in these documents : and  . We have taken screenshots at a number of steps which might (hopefully) give you a better idea of SolidWorks than the original document.

Autodesk 3ds Max provides powerful, integrated 3D modelling, animation, rendering, and compositing tools that enable artists and designers to more quickly ramp up for production. In this two part series of tutorials we will deal with the basics of 3-D Modelling using max. In the first part we will cover the following two topics:
  1. Navigating a Scene/Introduction to Interface
  2. Creating simple objects like sphere, tree etc. in the scene.
In the next part we will model specific objects, so that you may become conversant with the wide variety of tools that max provides to alter ordinary shapes into extra ordinary objects.

Navigating a Scene/Introduction to Interface

1. Choose File menu > Open.
Find the park.max file (provided alongside tutorial) on your hard drive, then click Open.

The following scene will come up:

2. The ViewCube™ displays in the top right corner of all the viewports (left, top, front, perspective).

3. Click (alt+w) while in the perspective box and the viewport will maximize.

4. Click the Left face of the ViewCube to view the scene from the left.

As you can see, the ViewCube lets you view the scene from alternative viewpoints with a simple click of a mouse. Notice how the viewer zooms in to a default scene magnification as it switches to the left perspective. The change in zoom factor is not something we want in this tutorial however, so we’ll change it.

5. Right-click the ViewCube and choose Configure from the list. The ViewCube tab is automatically selected.

6. In the When Clicking On The ViewCube group, turn off Fit-To-View On View Change and click OK. It is important to keep this setting off if you want to maintain the same zoom factor when switching between viewpoints.

7. In the Perspective viewport, click the Home icon to the upper left of the ViewCube.
The Perspective viewport returns to its initial viewpoint.

8. Click the Zoom button in the viewport navigation controls at the lower-right corner of the screen. To show that this control is now active, the button appears pressed in, with a yellow background.

9. With the mouse, drag downward in the Perspective viewport. Your view zooms out so you can see the scene from a distance.

10. Click Orbit in the viewport navigation controls, which is below and to the right of the Zoom button. The button highlights when active. A yellow navigation circle appears in the viewport.

11. Position the cursor inside the yellow circle. Press and hold the left mouse button and move the mouse. The point of view orbits around the scene.

12. Use a combination of the Orbit and mouse wheel to zoom in on the hut in the scene.

13. Orbit your view by dragging to the left or right until you can see the cannon in the opposite direction.

14. Right-click the viewport to exit Orbit mode.

15. Click Pan in the viewport navigation controls and move the mouse in the viewport.
The viewport pans with your movement.

16. Return the viewport to its original orientation by clicking the Home icon.

17. Press (shift+w) to display the SteeringWheels navigation tool, if it is not already visible.
The SteeringWheels navigation tool is an alternative way to navigate a scene.

18. Click and drag each of the Zoom, Pan and Orbit controls in turn, and experiment with how they can be used to navigate the scene.

19. When you’re done, click and drag the Rewind control to the left.

20. The Rewind tool passes over a strip of thumbnails, each of which represents a previously selected navigation point. Release the mouse on any thumbnail. The viewport rewinds to that point.

21. Experiment with the Center, Walk, Look and Up/Down controls in the center of the navigation tool. When you are done, click the arrow in the bottom right of the wheel and choose Go Home. This repositions the viewport view to the Home viewpoint.

22. Click the small “X” in the top right of the wheel to hide the SteeringWheels tool.

Creating a Rock and a Tree

In this part of the tutorial, you'll create two primitive objects, and then modify their parameters so they take on the appearance of a rock and a tree.

Create a rock

1. On the Create panel, click the Geometry tab, then in the Object Type rollout, click Sphere. The button highlights to show that it is active and ready to use.

2. Create a sphere in the Top viewport by pressing down on the left mouse button anywhere to the front of the hut in the park and dragging away from where you started. As long as you hold the mouse button down, you can adjust the size of the sphere. When you release the mouse button, the sphere is complete.

Create a sphere

3. On the Modify panel > Parameters rollout, change the Radius setting to 25 and press
The sphere changes size in the viewport. In 3ds Max, it’s typical practice to rough out an object with the mouse, then refine it in a parameter rollout.

4. Click the Modifier List drop-down and choose the Noise modifier.

5. On the Parameter rollout > Noise group, turn on Fractal and in the Strength group, set X,
Y, and Z axes to 30.
The rock is taking shape, but it could be flatter.

6. On the main toolbar, click the Scale and Uniform Scale button.

7. In perspective view, drag the gizmo Z-axis downward until the rock object is about two-thirds its original height.

Change the name of the sphere

1. On the Modify panel object name field, double-click the name Sphere01 to highlight it.

2. Type in rock to change the name of the sphere. Press Enter to set the new name.

Create a tree

1.  On the Create panel, click the Geometry tab, and then in the Standard Primitives dropdown list, choose AEC Extended.
AEC Extended objects are pre-built geometry, including railings, fences and plants. They are a fast way to add realistic details to a scene.

2. On the Object type rollout, click Foliage.

3. On the Favorite Plants rollout, choose Generic Oak as the species of tree.

4. Right-click the Top viewport to activate it, and add the tree to the scene by clicking a point slightly below and to the left of the rock.

Create a tree

To give the scene some atmosphere, we’ll make the tree appear stunted.

5. With the tree still selected, on the Modify panel > Parameters rollout, set Height to 150.

6. In the Show group, turn Leaves off and on the Level-Of-Detail group, turn on Low to reduce the number of branches.

7. If you are not yet satisfied with the appearance of the tree, click the Parameters rollout >
New button. Each time you click the button, the Seed value is changed, causing the tree to undergo a random re-configuration.

8. When you are satisfied with the appearance of the tree, re-name the object in the foliage01 field using the same procedure you followed for the rock. Call this object oak_tree.

This is the scene you will be left with:

In a similar way as you modified a sphere, you can try out other shapes and new modifiers on them. 3D-modelling is a field in which you best learn by experimenting with random tools. One more advice that should be followed is the regular use of a mouse for using max as it gives a greater degree of control over whatever is going on the screen.

Now let us move forward to the second part of this tutorial series, that is, Modelling Objects.