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 Pawas 3D Studio Max Tutorials


3D Studio Max R2.5 has added some really great and powerful tools to their already huge arsenal. What I would like to show you are some very simple but extremely helpful new additions to the edit mesh area of MAX. We will go step by step through a method that is great for low poly modeling. And, with the smooth modifier added, great for high detail models as well. As with all modeling, there is more then one way to shin ( or model ) a cat. If another method of modeling suits you better, take it. Variety is the spice of life. And if you find a method that will work better for all of us please let me know.


So let’s get to it. As I am still in a Marine Biology state of mind I have decided to model a shark. We will first set up the MAX environment to best suit our needs and then go step by step, fin by fin, to the finished product.


The method we are using I like to call "Box" modeling ( I have no idea if this is already a coined term ). I refer to it as such because we will start off with a box and model it from there. First we need to have a guide to help us shape our box. We will use a drawing of our shark to help us. Setting up MAX to do this will be our first task. You can go about this in one of two ways. Paste your image on two-dimensional boxes or use MAX’s awesome ability to make you images the background that responds to pans and zooms. The first being that easiest and the most intuitive, we will use it.



We will use a side view; a front view and a top view of our shark and while in your paint program note their dimensions. These will be the same dimensions that we will use to map your two dimensional boxes. Use the above illustration to guide you. Remember to line up your drawings so that each detail in one corresponds with the other.


Using the standard primitive’s panel above, make a box as pictured below.



Now once your box is more or less like above you will have to make it an editable mesh. You do this by going to the edit stack button in the modifier stack. Then convert it to an editable mesh. At this point we now have control over all the vertex, faces and edges of our box…..I mean shark. If you click on the "Sub-object" button for our shark it will turn yellow indicating that it is ready to adjust the vertices at your command. Notice below that if you choose the four points that make up the corners of each section of the box and use the scale and move tools on that selection you can shape and move our box to "fit" the images that we have as our templates. Go ahead and match the image below.


This is another view of what I am trying to get across.



Now, to get to the fun stuff. Remember how we adjusted the vertices above? Now we are going to cut up our shark so we can have more edges to play with. Just as before select the shark and then go to Sub-Object mode. This time though, scroll down to edge as shown below. Under edge you have a number of selections you could make. We are going to focus on the new "cut" tool.


We will, from the top view, cut a line down the top or our shark.


Notice the line is slightly off center. This is on purpose. Right next to it make another line. Now you should have two parallel lines down the top of you shark as above. We will now use the last of our sub-object selections and go to the face selection. Still looking down on the shark, select one of the "new" faces you just created using the cut tool as shown above. This will be our dorsal fin. By using the extrude tool, we will "pull out" our fin.

Ok you have now experienced all of the tools that we will be using to make the rest of the shark. You will add lines and thus vertices to the shark pull and extrude them to mold your fish. So lets get crack’n! We will now adjust some points to fit our shark’s dorsal fin.

When moving points around make sure that all points that lay behind it are also selected. This is true with most models that are semetrical. Let us say that we wanted another set of points that cut the fin. We could use the cut tool and cut all the way around the fin or we could use the new "slice plane" tool that was located in the same area as the cut tool. When selected a yellow plane appears that you may move and rotate at will. When you are satisfied with its location, just click the slice button and a new set of edges will appear through your object. See below.

Now lets work on the tail. The best way I have found to add detail like this to creatures is by using the extrude tool just as we did for the dorsal fin. While in sub-object mode go to Face. Select the end face that you will extrude out to make the tail.

Use the side shot of the shark as a guide when making your tail. You will have to use the extrude tool a number of times in order to get the enough points to work with. First make the top of the tail. Then extrude out to make the bottom section.

OK, so that is the tail. Now lets put some pectorial fins on this fishy. By using the cut tool we will cut some new edges into the side of the shark. As below.

After you have made the box go to the face sub-object again and select it.

Extrude it out slightly……then use the scale tool to make it inset..as below…

You may want to adjust the points so that when the face is extruded the fin has a natural airplane wing look to it.

I included the below fins "in progress" illustration to show that you will have to make some adjustments to your fins as you go. Below I am using a the slice tool to add some detail to the fins we just made. This could just as easily been done using the extrude tool a number of times to add detail. To add other smaller fins to the shark just repeat the steps we have just done.

We need to add some detail to our shark. This time it is much more subtle. We will add some lines to the side of the shark so we can "round out" the little guy. See below.

Now for the finishing touch. The mouth. As you can see we will have to add a cut down the belly.

Select the points as shown below and move them up and back.

Now select those faces and extrude them as shown.

By using the scale tool you can scale the selected faces down … as below.

For the next step you will probibly want to open up his (her) mouth….I just grabbed some points and pulled them down….

Now this will put your understanding of the cut tool to the test…J Use the image below as a guide. You want to "cut" a gum line as shown.

Select the faces that make the inside of the mouth and extrude them in the negative direction. You may have to scale them down so as not to have his mouth coming out the side of his head.

Throw a smooth modifier in there, and you should end up with something like this.





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