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Chapter 4. Object Selection and Display > Changing Object Display

Changing Object Display

In 3ds max, you control the display of an object individually or for an entire viewport. In this section, we will find out how to change the object display by manipulating the properties of the individual object. For information on how to change the viewport display, see Chapter 3, Viewport Navigation and Display.

The commands in the Display panel affect the name, color, and visibility of objects and their components (Figure 4.30). In addition, the hide and freeze commands control the ability to select objects.

Figure 4.30. You control object display with the Display command panel.

Any changes that you make to objects in the Display panel are reflected in the Object Properties dialog box, and vice versa (Figure 4.31). The Object Properties dialog box contains all the same display commands except hiding and freezing by category. To access the Object Properties dialog box, choose Edit > Object Properties, or right-click on a selection and choose Properties from the Transform menu. To call up a floating dialog box of display commands, choose Tools > Display Floater.

Figure 4.31. The Display Properties group of the Object Properties dialog box is nearly identical to the Display Properties rollout in the Display panel.

The color commands of the Display panel let you switch between the colors that you assign to objects in the Name and Color rollout and the colors of materials you assign to them. This provides an additional way of distinguishing between objects in a complicated scene.

Object display property commands affect the way in which viewports display objects in smooth modes, wireframe modes, or both. Display properties that affect only smooth shaded modes include:

  • See-Through— Causes an object to appear translucent. Affects viewport but not rendered output.

Display properties that affect only wireframe modes include:

  • Backface Cull— Hides the wireframe display of the inside of an object. Uncheck this box when you want to see the entire structure.

  • Edges Only— Hides the common edge between pairs of coplanar faces, which are adjacent faces that can be selected as a polygon. Uncheck this box to see the true number of faces that make up a mesh surface.

  • Vertex Ticks— Displays vertices as small or large dots, depending upon the preference you set in the Viewports panel of the Preference Settings dialog box.

Display properties that affect both smooth and wireframe modes include:

  • Display as Box— Displays an object in box mode, even when the viewport display is set to a higher level of resolution.

  • Trajectory— Displays the animation path of an object.

  • Ignore Extents— Causes the Zoom Extents command to disregard the object.

  • Show Frozen in Gray— Causes objects to turn gray when they are frozen.

  • Vertex Colors— Displays vertex colors that have been assigned during sub-object editing (see Chapter 8). May be displayed with or without light-to-dark surface shading.

Examples of display modes are shown in Figure 4.32.

Figure 4.32. A teapot displayed on a white background using different options.

Hiding objects helps you to manage complex scenes by simplifying the viewport display and speeding up redraw time. Hidden objects disappear from view and cannot be selected until they are unhidden.

To hide an object:

Select an object that you want to hide (Figure 4.33).

Figure 4.33. Select an object to hide.

Open the Hide rollout of the Display command panel (Figure 4.34).

Figure 4.34. The Hide rollout contains commands for hiding and unhiding objects.

In the Hide rollout, click Hide Selected.

The object disappears from view (Figure 4.35).

Figure 4.35. After hiding the selected object.


  • Hide Unselected hides unselected objects.

  • Hide by Name allows you to select objects from a list (Figure 4.36).

    Figure 4.36. You can select objects to hide in the Hide by Name dialog box. Note the similarity to the Select Objects dialog box.

  • Hide by Hit allows you to hide objects by clicking on them.

  • Frozen objects cannot be hidden unless you enable Hide Frozen Objects.

To unhide an object:

Click Unhide by Name.


Press 5 on your keyboard.

A list of all the hidden objects appears (Figure 4.37).

Figure 4.37. Select an object to unhide in the Unhide by Name dialog box.

Select the object that you want to unhide.

Click OK.

The object reappears (Figure 4.38).

Figure 4.38. After unhiding the object.

To unhide all objects:

  • In the Hide rollout, click Unhide All. All the hidden objects reappear.

The Hide by Category rollout allows you to hide objects according to type. I often hide lights and cameras when I am not working on them so I can zoom to the extents of a scene more closely. Another good use for this set of commands is for hiding helper objects and for hiding objects that have been used in building compound objects.

To hide an object by category:

In the Display panel, open the Hide by Category rollout (Figure 4.39).

Figure 4.39. You hide objects according to type in the Hide by Category.

Place a check in the boxes next to the types of objects you would like to hide.

The objects disappear.


  • To unhide objects by category, uncheck the object types you want to make visible.

Freezing prevents objects from being manipulated without hiding them from view. When objects are frozen, they turn dark gray and cannot be selected until they are unfrozen.

To freeze an object:

Select an object (Figure 4.40).

Figure 4.40. Select an object to freeze.

Open the Display command panel.

Open the Freeze rollout.

The Freeze rollout appears (Figure 4.41).

Figure 4.41. The Freeze rollout contains commands that make objects unselectable.

4. In the Freeze rollout, click Freeze Selected.


Press 6 on your keyboard.

The object freezes (Figure 4.42).

Figure 4.42. The frozen object turns dark gray.


  • Freeze Unselected freezes all visible objects that are unselected and unfrozen.

  • Freeze by Name brings up a list of unhidden and unfrozen objects to freeze (Figure 4.43).

    Figure 4.43. You can select objects to freeze in the Freeze by Name dialog box.

  • Freeze by Hit allows you to freeze objects by clicking on them.

  • If you do not want an object to turn gray when it freezes, uncheck Show Frozen in Gray in the Display Properties rollout.

To unfreeze objects:

Click Unfreeze by Name.


Press 5 on your keyboard.

A list of all the frozen objects appears (Figure 4.44).

Figure 4.44. Select an object to unfreeze in the Unfreeze by Name dialog box.

Select the objects that you want to unfreeze.

Click OK.

The objects become unfrozen (Figure 4.45).

Figure 4.45. The unfrozen object returns to its original color and can now be selected.

To unfreeze all objects:

  • In the Freeze rollout, click Unfreeze All


    Press 7 on your keyboard.

    All the frozen objects become unfrozen.


  • Unfreeze by Hit allows you to unfreeze objects by clicking on them.

  • The right-click Display quad menu contains most of the Hide and Freeze commands (Figure 4.46).

    Figure 4.46. The Display quad menu contains shortcuts to the hide and freeze commands.

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