Autodesk 3ds Max/Beginner
Welcome to Autodesk 3ds Max! This is a powerful 3-Dimensional computer modeling/animation package developed by Autodesk. It is the industry standard for games design, used in well-known titles such as Assassin's Creed, Rome: Total War and perhaps more famously, it's built in Quake export feature. It has also been used for creating 3d scenes for films and television, though more often packages such as the more expensive Autodesk Maya are used in its place for such purpose.
Before beginning to create anything, you must know what does what. This is an introduction to the most important areas of the UI (user interface) in the software, those being the menus and the Viewports.
The Main Toolbar
This is bar at the top of your screen. As you can see, this bar contains several buttons, and it would be difficult to memorize all of them at once. Therefore, we will only go over 4 important buttons in Main Toolbar right now, but feel free to experiment with the others to find out what they do, or hover over them for a tooltip.
Select Object - This is the button with the single mouse icon in the center. This command allows you to select an object in your scene by clicking on it, without accidently performing any transformation (move, rotate, or enlarge). The keyboard shortcut for this command is "q".
Select and Move - This is the button with 4 arrows pointing in different directions; it should be 4 buttons to the right of Select Object. This allows you to select an object and move it to a different location along its axis by clicking on the three arrows in the viewports. The keyboard shortcut for this command is "w".
Select and Rotate - This is the arrow going in a circle right next to Select and Move. This allows you to select an object and make it spin on its pivot point. The keyboard shortcut for this command is "e".
Select and Scale - This button shows a small square in the lower left corner of a larger square; it is right next to Select and Rotate. This command allows you to select an object and make it bigger or smaller along an axis. The keyboard shortcut for this command is "r".
Remember the shortcuts !!
The Viewports are where you will be doing most of your work; they display (by default) three orphagraphic wireframe views and a 3d solid perspective view. They are the 4 large squares that occupy most of the screen when you first open 3DS MAX. These represent (in default positions):
You can always change this layout by right-clicking in the space between the viewports.
The Command Panel
The Command Panel is the panel to the far right of the screen when you first open 3DS MAX. This important panel takes a large part in creating objects.
This area has several important tabs:
In 3DS Max, there’s x, y, z, axis. Imagine looking down at a table top; these define: width ‘x’, length ‘y’, and height ‘z’ pointing up. This is being clarified due to the fact there are other applications that use these axis where ‘z’ and ‘y’ are switched, as if looking at a wall. This can lead to some confusion if you’re coming over from Maya or any other software that uses ‘y’ as up.
It is important to know how to navigate around a scene to simplify editing an object. In the very bottom right corner of the screen, there is a toolbar full of buttons ment for moving around in a viewport.
Zoom - This is the button with the magnifying glass image. This allows you to click and drag the mouse up and down in a viewport to zoom in and out of the scene. The shortcut for this is using your mouse's scroll wheel.
Zoom All - This is the button right next to zoom with a magnifying glass and 4 boxes. This essentially does the same thing as Zoom, the difference being that it will zoom in and out in all viewports at once. This is an advantage when you want to get a better view of your scene in all viewports.
Zoom Extents - This is the button next to Zoom All with a blank box. Clicking this button will instantly zoom the active viewport so that all objects in your scene fit into it.
Zoom Extents Selected - You change Zoom Extents to this button by holding it down until you get a selection list. Click on the button with the white shaded box. This button zooms the active viewport so that your current selection fills it up. This has the same effect as Zoom Extents if you have either every thing or nothing in your scene selected.
Zoom Extents All - Has the same effect as Zoom Extents except it zooms in all viewports.
Zoom Extents All Selected - Has the same effect as Zoom Extents Selected except it zooms in all viewports. The keyboard shortcut for this command is "z".
Field-of-View - Directly below Zoom. This allows you to zoom in and out of a viewport right on the center.
Region Zoom - Button accessed by changing from Field-of-View. Allows you to zoom in on a dragged selection area of a viewport.
Pan - Button with an image of a hand. Allows you to move your view of a viewport along the viewport's X and Y axis. The shortcut for this is dragging your mouse with the scroll wheel held down.
Arc Rotate - Allows you to rotate your view in a viewport so you can look at your scene from any angle. It is recommended that you only use this command in the Perspective viewport. The shortcut for this command is to hold "shift" while dragging the mouse with the scroll wheel held down. (Alt and scroller wheel down in version 8)
Min/Max Toggle - Clicking this button enlarges the active viewport to take up the entire area of all 4 viewports. This is useful for working on something small or crowded you want a very large view for. Click again to change it back to a 4-way view. The keyboard shortcut for this button is "alt+w".