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Introduction

Introduction

3ds max is one of the most powerful and popular desktop 3D graphics programs available today. Formerly known as 3D Studio MAX, the program is used for a wide variety of commercial and artistic applications, including architecture, computer games, film production, Web design, forensics, medical and scientific visualization, virtual reality, and fine art.

This book was written for artists, designers, students, teachers, working professionals, and anyone who wants to build their dreams. To guide you through the process of learning, over 1,200 illustrations accompany the text. At the beginning of each chapter, the introduction gives you a sense of the possibilities. The section headings present the theory you need just in time to do the step-by-step tasks that follow. Tips give you important clues about pitfalls, advanced techniques, and related tools. By studying both the theory and the mechanics, you will be equipped to not only push the right buttons, but to create art, solve problems, and invent solutions.

Like other Visual QuickStart Guides, this book is designed to be visually clear and easy to read, and it presumes no prior experience on the part of the reader. If you are a beginner, the best thing to do is start at the beginning and work your way through the topics in order. More advanced students may want to skip around to areas of particular interest. To use this book as a how-to reference, look up your task in the table of contents, reference the shortcut commands in the appendices, or look up the topic in the index.

In order to get the most out of this book, you should be familiar with the Windows environment and have access to 3ds max 4. You should also have a good understanding of 2D graphics programs, such as Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter.

There are as many ways to work in 3ds max as there are artists who use the program. Throughout this book, I have tried to select the easiest and most direct ways of using the program, while showing you the larger design of its workings. My aim is to explain complex ideas in simple terms and organize the information in such a way that you can find what you need when you need it.

Chapter 1 gets you up and running, from installing the program to navigating the interface and learning file commands.

Chapters 2 through 4 teach you how to create and select objects, control display, and navigate 3D space.

Chapters 5 through 7 show you how to manipulate and animate objects using transforms, modifiers, and animation controllers.

Chapters 8 through 10 explain more advanced modeling techniques, including sub-object editing and creating compound objects.

Chapters 11 and 12 describe the use of lights and cameras for illuminating scenes and taking pictures.

Chapters 13 and 14 cover materials and mapping, so you can paint your scenes with color and pattern and assign surface qualities such as shininess, reflectivity, and transparency.

Chapter 15 rounds out the book with rendering, which further develops the concepts of taking pictures and adding effects to produce high-quality still images and movies.

By the end of this book, you will have learned how to create, model, map, animate, and render objects in 3ds max 4. When you are ready to put it all together, visit the Peachpit Press companion Web site for this book at www.peachpit.com/vqs/3dsmax, or go to www.lightweaver.com to see artwork and examples from my new CD-ROM of self-paced tutorials and classroom teaching materials.

Enjoy!

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