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Let's assume you decide to learn to play the violin. You start lessons this week, and by the end of the month, you want to have a concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Is that likely to happen? No, but it illustrates a point about learning 3ds max 6. As with any art form, you must start with the fundamentals. Then, using the lessons learned, you must build on that solid foundation and practice, practice, practice until you have developed a style of your own. Eventually, you will be ready for the Carnegie Halls of visualization and animation.

3ds max 6 has some powerful new features that enable users to increase productivity (through faster editing and enhanced functionality). As the title of this book implies, it covers some fundamentals of 3ds max 6, not necessarily topics that are only for first-time users of 3ds max 6, but for anyone who wants to be exposed to work methods and techniques that are fundamental to creating a scene in a timely manner.

Every level of user, from raw beginners to advanced users, can find information in this book that will help speed the day-to-day workflow.

The Concepts

In the first part of this book, I walk you through some of the traditional art concepts that have been used throughout the ages to create art that causes the viewer to make an emotional connection with the work, thereby conveying the goals of your story or presentation.

This book also covers the basic concepts important to the way 3ds max 6 functions to help you understand why a certain approach to modeling, materials, lighting, or animation helps you get the most from the software.

The Fundamentals

The discussions and exercises contained in this book walk you through the concepts and work methods that, although fundamental, are essential to an understanding of how 3ds max 6 functions. You also learn how to apply the basic knowledge to a workflow that increases your productivity.

In this book, you learn important fundamentals such as the following:

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

  • Some concepts of working in 2D to create complex 3D scenes that can be edited quickly and easily.

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

  • How to make efficient materials to simulate complex geometry to increase rendering speed and to make your scenes unique.

  • Applying lighting to scenes using the new radiosity and global illumination (methods that are cost-effective and convincing to the viewer).

  • Fundamental animation techniques on which you can build your own techniques and styles.

As new users or users anxious to dive into the new features introduced in 3ds max 6, you will want to get stunning results as soon as possible from your new purchase.

Take the time to get a good grounding in these fundamental issues, and then the fancy work will come much more naturally to you as you dig deeper into the software.

The Exercises

The exercises in this book walk you step by step through a process similar to what you might encounter in 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.

Use the lessons learned from each exercise to come up with scenes of your own, incorporating the techniques and methods until you understand the process. Start with simple scenes that enable you to focus on understanding the concepts, and the fundamentals will quickly become part of your daily routine.

While you are completing the exercises, consider how you might apply the methods and techniques covered in your own line of work. An exercise can walk you through the creation of a building, for example, but you might be planning to use the same process to create the rough form of an automobile.

I hope that when you work on your own projects, you will not think, “I learned this or that from Ted Boardman.” Instead, hopefully, the lessons you learn here will become an automatic reaction to challenges that you will face in your production schedules.

The Files and Content

The files included on the CD-ROM that accompanies this book include the files necessary for the exercises, but also other files in the ExtraFiles folder that are either more complete versions of the basic exercise files (such as the USS Agamenticus) or totally unrelated scenes, such as a pair of tech flashlights or an old brick brewery building. There are also rendered animations of the Agamenticus and its engine room.

Open all the files in this book and analyze how the objects were modeled, how the lights were placed, and how the materials and animation were created. Play with those scenes to come up with other approaches to improve them. Try to learn something new every day you work with 3ds max 6. Let these lessons become the foundation for your artistry.

The New Features

I've taken some different approaches to developing the scenes for the exercises, using as many of the new features in 3ds max 6 as practical, while remaining true to the fundamentals of 3ds max 6.

The editable poly editing features are introduced and used extensively in building the objects in the scenes.

Lighting is a new concept in 3ds max 6, and you learn to work with both global illumination and radiosity renderers. I have divided the exercises into three parts: the building of an 1860's ironclad boat called the USS Agamenticus, an outdoor scene of the shipyard where the boat was originally built, and an imaginary interior control center for the boat. My intention with this approach is to introduce you to the fundamentals of three very specific types of light-rendering scenarios: sunlight, light fixtures, and global illumination.

Animation also has been improved in 3ds max 6, and the animation exercises in this book walk you through the improvements and fundamental aspects of new animation features.

The Source

The exercises and work methods are derived from situations that arise in my max classes and during consulting. I try to make the exercises as real as possible while staying true to my teaching strategy.

Wherever 3ds max 6 takes you, good luck and have fun.

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