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 Pawas 3D Studio Max Tutorials

Author: Paul Frary


This fairly simple tutorial will teach you how to make a very realistic and fully animatable caterpiller track.


Step 1

Create a spline that looks roughly like the picture on the left. It does not need to be exactly like this, it is up to your own personal taste but one thing to remember is that both sides MUST be the opposite of each other. So that when you come to duplicate it, it will interlink with the other sections.
Then add an "Extrude" modifier with a value of 10, again this is just a guide, feel free to use whatever value you think looks right.
Ok, now we have are first section, if you want to you may add a "UVW Map" Modifier at this stage, it may may things easier later on.


Step 2

Ok, now we need to duplicate this many times in order to make our track. I made 40 copies of it but it's all down to personal taste. You could either copy it many times, placing them as you go (easy to do but can get quite boring), or you could use an array. In this instance make sure you put the correct value in the Incremental -> Move section of the Dialogue box so that each section overlaps with the "cogs" of the last one, and put 40 in the 1D value box at the bottom. This can take some experimenting to get right but worth it in the long run. It should end up looking similar to the image opposite. Click it for a full view.
After you have done that you will need to make it into one object. To do this, click on any one of them and press the "Attach List" button in the modifier tab section, then select all of them from the list that pops up.


Step 3

Create a Spline that resembles the one pictured opposite. Again the design of this is entirely up to you. This is what we are going to use to shape the track that we have so that it looks more like a caterpiller track
Now, select the track object by clicking on it, you will need to add a "Path Deform Modifier" to the object, you will find this by pressing the "More" button.
Then click the "Pick Path" button from the drop down menu and click on the spline that we just created. You will notice that your track has changed shape, but it is probably looking quite strange at the mo. You'll need to change the "Path Deform Axis" to Y by clicking the radio button underneath the "Path Deform Parameters" section in the drop down menu.
It is most likely that the ends of your track are not joined up properly. To remedy this you will need to scale the "Spline" up or down accordingly until the ends are connected.


Step 4

Now that we have the track modelled we can start animating it. This is surprisingly easy since we have used the "Path Deform" Modifier. All we need to do is change the "Percent" value to animate the track. So click on the Animate button, move the frame slider up to 100 and change the "Percent" value to 100. There you go, a fully animatable and realistic looking cterpiller track. All you need to do now is create a "filler" for the middle part of the track and then apply your texture it. Simple.





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