• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL



Learning 3ds max 7 is similar to learning to speak a foreign language. On the first day of class, everything is confusing, and you may leave feeling a bit frustrated. You might even feel that you know less than when you came in. Then you spend the next few classes learning about the fundamental building blocks—nouns, verbs, and adjectives—and before long you find you're able to assemble these elements into sentences and paragraphs that can be understood by others. Learning 3ds max 7 is very similar—you may struggle a bit at first, but if you invest some time in learning the fundamentals, the rest easily falls into place.

The content and tutorials in this book assume you're already familiar with the basic 3ds max 7 interface and that you have spent enough time reading and studying the manuals, tutorials, and online reference tools that ship with the program to be able to concentrate on the lessons. As the book title implies, you'll learn some fundamental workflows of 3ds max 7. These are not basic topics designed for first-time users. Instead, they are techniques that anyone can use to build a solid working knowledge base. Both new and experienced users will find techniques in this book that can help speed their day-to-day workflow.

The Concepts

Chapter 1, Workflow, explains the fundamental workflow of 3ds max 7 and provides planning steps to help you get started, while Chapter 2, Fundamental Concepts, introduces basic concepts that are fundamental to the way 3ds max 7 is designed. These concepts will help you understand why the approaches to modeling, materials, and lighting presented in later chapters can help you get the most from the software.

If you're like most 3ds max users, you're eager to dive into the new features introduced in 3ds max 7 and start producing stunning results as soon a possible. However, if you take the time to get a good grounding in the fundamentals, the fancy footwork will come much more naturally to you as you dig deeper into the software.

A good strategy for tackling each chapter is to read through it first to see where it leads, and then return to perform the exercises, keeping in mind the intended goals. Finally, skim through the text again to make sure you have a solid understanding of the important concepts covered before moving on to the next chapter.

The CD-ROM that accompanies this book contains project files for the beginning and end of each exercise so that you can jump into the book at any point and begin learning. However, I recommend you start at the beginning of the book and work through the chapters and exercises sequentially.

The Techniques

Beginning with Chapter 3, 2D Shapes: Starting with the Foundation, the exercises in the book walk you through the techniques and workflow that are essential to an understanding of how 3ds max 7 functions, and the discussions show you how you might apply this fundamental knowledge to your projects. You'll learn about

  • The reference coordinate systems that let you manipulate objects in 3D space efficiently.

  • Working in 2D and applying modifiers to create complex 3D scenes that can be edited quickly and easily.

  • Lofting techniques for building objects in scenes. Because lofting is a powerful but underutilized modeling strategy for creating complex geometry, I cover lofting techniques extensively.

  • Reducing scene overhead to get the most out of the hardware you have available—this is one of the most important lessons presented in this book.

  • Making efficient materials that simulate complex geometry using Bump and Opacity maps for increased rendering speed and for unique scenes.

  • Applying cost-effective and convincing lighting effects to scenes using 3ds max 7's Radiosity and Global Illumination features.

  • Basic animation methods you can use as a starting point for building your own techniques and styles. The animation exercises walk you through fundamental aspects of keyframe animation and animation controllers and constraints.

The Exercises

A simple country airport serves as the basis for both exterior daylight scenes and interior scenes presented in this book. The intent is to introduce you to the fundamentals of a variety of scenarios for modeling, materials, lighting, and animation.

The exercises walk you step by step through a process similar to what you might encounter modeling a real-life project. The processes and methods are designed to help you form work habits that will be relevant whether you are a gamer, background artist, stage or set designer, or engineer.

While performing the exercises, try to project how you might apply the methods and techniques covered in your own line of work. When I'm showing you how to create a building, for instance, you might be planning to use the same process to create the rough form of an automobile.

Use the lessons you learn from each exercise to produce scenes of your own that incorporate the techniques and methods presented until you understand the process. Start with simple scenes that let you focus on understanding the concepts, and the fundamentals will quickly become part of your daily routine.

Hopefully, when you work on your own projects you will not be thinking, “I learned this from Ted Boardman.” Instead, the lessons learned here should become an automatic reaction to challenges that you face every day in your own production schedules.

The Project Files

The CD-ROM that accompanies this book includes all the files you need for the exercises, as well as more complete versions of the basic exercise files that you can disassemble to see how some of the techniques in the book might be applied in other projects.

You can use these files to analyze how the objects were modeled, how the lights were placed, and how the materials and animation were created. Better yet, you can use the files to play with each scene until you produce your own approaches to improving them. The image files on the CD-ROM are color figures, as opposed to the black-and-white versions in the book, so they should be much more helpful, particularly with the materials and lighting chapters.

The exercises and work methods in this book are derived from situations that develop in my max classes and during my consulting work. I try to make the exercises as real as possible while staying true to my teaching strategy of helping you build a base of fundamental information.

Wherever 3ds max 7 may take you, good luck and have fun!

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint