3ds Max Articles

I’ve been the content manger for the 3ds Max section of AugiWorld Magazine for several years now.  During this time I’ve produced numerous tutorials and articles for the AugiWorld Magazine:

Tips that Never Get Old – A few tips and tricks with 3ds Max.

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Tips for Beginners (Modifier Editor) – Exploring some of the uses of the modifier editor.

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Advanced Tips for More Realistic Visualization – Covering more advanced settings inside the VRAY frame buffer.

vrayBuffer

Realistic Interactive Realtime Rendering – Presenting 3ds Max to Unreal workflow.

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Education and Training – Non-traditional methods to educate yourself.

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Customization with 3ds Max 2018 – Discussing Custom start-up files, templates, toolbars, and materials.

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Level Up with 3ds Max – Presenting hard-surface scene construction concepts.

level up

Online Collaboration for 3ds Max – Presenting four useful sites that can be used to share and review 3ds Max content.

collaboration

Managing Assets for 3ds Max – Discussing version control and more.

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Four Favorite Plug-ins – Discussing some plugins for 3ds Max.

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Creativity Unleashed – Discussing new features in 3ds Max 2019.

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20 More Tips and Tricks for 3ds Max – Expanding on the first 50 Trips and Tricks posted a few years before.

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Professional Presentation for Designers – Discusses animation timing, blocking, motion, keys, composition, and content.

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Advanced Techniques – Covers manipulating textures using the Slate Editor and nodes, Advanced Data Manipulation and the Particle View, Particle Systems, Substance Painter with 3ds Max and using maps for alternate scenarios.

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3ds Max Interactive – Introduction to the new powerful tool for VR and visualization for 3ds Max and Maya.

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Education Triumvirate – Discussing how to use available resources to learn 3ds Max.

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Customize 3ds Max – Working with color schemes, expanding rollouts, and customizing quad menus.

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Expanding on Details – Demonstrate using work paths, subdiv, and displace modifier to add details to scenes.

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Tools for Collaboration – Using non-destructive options with xrefs, File Link Manager for Revit connections and the design workspace.

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Covering Details – Demonstrating how details can add character to scenes.

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Implementation of Arion Renderer – Discussing Arion Renderer and basic implementation.

Arion

3ds Max 2018 Highlights – Introducing updates with 3ds Max 2018. pic

Manage Still Image Post-Production Elements – Using render elements and PSD Manager with Photoshop for post-production work. bildings

Introduction to MassFX – Working with MassFX to add interest to a scene. lollipops

Advanced Lighting: Light Balance with 3ds Max – Applying light balance to scenes in 3ds Max.  lightbalance

Reflections on Lighting – Introductory to lighting setup and analysis.  image1

Reach Out with 3ds Max – Focused on encouraging the use of art and 3ds Max to communicate, teach, and understand one another. egypt

Max Creation Graphs – Using and creating Max Creation Graphs (MCGs) for 3ds Max

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Max Efficiency – Article discussing how to manage 3ds Max data effectively

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Collaboration with 3ds Max and Stingray Article introducing Stingray as a realtime solution for visualization purposes. stingray

Future of Visualization Article discussing how the visualization industry is impacted by today’s technology.live

Third-Party Options Helpful, affordable plugins for 3ds Max.Brian_Chapman-AW-0616-03_452_229

New Release, Packed with Improvements teapot

Material Management Proper use of materials in 3ds Max Brian_Chapman-AW-0416-01

Tricks with Scripts (Time-saving tricks using the MAXScript language in 3ds Max)1

Retopologizing a Mesh in 3ds Max (Digital sculpting with 3ds Max and other software)2

Constructing an Interior Scene in 3ds Max (Creating an interior scene using 3ds Max, VRay, and Photoshop)Main

Keeping it Civil in 3ds Max (Using 3ds Max with Civil View and Civil 3d)Figure 1

The Digital Artist (Design Fundamentals)Figure 3 - Shapes in Complex Parts.png

Creating Custom Textures with the Viewport Canvas (Working with textures, color and contrast)Figure 11 - Brush Images

Bringing Characters to Life (Manual character construction)
Figure 1 - Bot Needs Karate Lessons.png

Creating Visual Effects with Atmospheric Apparatus and Rayfire (Working with 3ds Max effect tools) Figure 1

Manage Large Scenes in 3ds Max (Tools that help manage large, detailed scenes) Fig 1 - Housing Development in 3ds Max

50 Fast Tips & Tricks for 3ds Max (Quick timesavers for 3ds Max users) Figure2

Intro to 3ds Max (Getting started) FIGURE1

3ds Max Versatility (Explores how to use 3ds Max in unconventional ways) Brian_Chapman-AW-1214-01.jpg_452_369

Make Game Development Child’s Play (Demonstrating game development with 3ds Max and the CryENGINE 3)  FinalFigure

Max Management Tips (Variety of usage tips for 3ds Max 2015) Brian_Chapman-AW-0714-01

Powerful Para 3d (A plug-in for controlling arrays in 3ds Max) Brian_Chapman-AW-0614-02.jpg

Performance, Productivity Increases (Introducing 2015 features) Brian_Chapman-AW-0414-01

Interview with the Artist (Q & A with Jose Alves da Silva) Figure 1

Quality Content with Max Plug-ins (Introducing Vray, CityTraffic, and Forest Pack Pro) CityTraffic Example

Not Just for Games (Q & A with Seid Tursic and presentation of hair and fur module) Mouse With Fur

Autocad / Civil 3d Tips

The ESRI plugin for Autocad / Civil 3D allows us to connect to Esri maps, services, and more.

esri

civil

1) Combine the transparent command ‘CAL with MME to get a point in the middle two selected locations

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2) For 64-bit computers an optimal setting for virtual memory can be 2X your physical memory. If you have 8 GB of ram set your virtual memory to 16 GB

3) Turn off Dynamic Tessellation to help speed up Civil 3D

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4) Values in the toolspace can be copied to the clipboard values

5) Export Civil 3d files to native Autocad formats using “ExportToAutocad” command

6) View corridors can be analyzed using the “Zone of Visual Influence” tool and some creativity

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7) Assign aliases using the alias editor for AEC commands you use a lot. Assign them to your left hand to be more productive (maintaining one hand on your mouse at all times)

8) Civil 3D can be used for much more than just civil applications,  check out the commands “extrude”, “slice”, and “revolve”extrude

9) Explode parcels to extract the parcel polylines, useful for multiple applications

10) Explore the “mapclean” command, which can be used for a multitude of tasks such as weeding polylines or checking line workmapclean

11) Not only can viewports be split, but they can be joined as well. By splitting and joining viewports, we can configure them in virtually any format we want

12) The modify option to insert PI works with featurelines, polylines, parcels, and more modify.png

13) With “paste special” we can insert lines and text from an excel file

14)  To help clean up a surface’s boundary experiment with the the max triangle length option

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15) XML files can be opened with notepad and can contain useful data

16) SYSVDLG command contains short descriptions of all variables in Civil 3d

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17) To convert a volume surface to a tin surface, simply create an empty tin surface and paste in the volume surface

18) In the xref manager, the name of an xref can be changed. This allows us to xref the same drawing twice, giving us layer control over each xref

19) The daylight from a grading object can be offset to create a 3d polyline

20) Fields can be used to read object data, be formatted to display with various units and precision, and be updated dynamically.

21) Customizing CAD using Autolisp and applicable programming languages can simplify life and streamline workflow. If you have a task you’d like to see automated, feel free to give me a shout, I might be able to help.

example

22) Autolisp is a common language to customize Autodesk drafting and design applications.  Creating one is simple. Here’s an example:

(defun c:anycommandname ()

(setq anyvariablename 1)

(setq anothervariablename 1)

(setq total (+ anyvariablename anothervariablename))

(princ))

That’s it. If this was loaded and we typed “!total” in the command line it would list “2” as the result.

23) Are you aware that for many cases you can modify a surface’s contours by drawing your own then adding it to the definitions? Simply add it as a “user contour” and it will adjust appropriately.

24) Civil 3d has a series of ‘transparent’ commands useful for a multitude of tasks. For example, ‘stae used with polylines or points allows user to locate a position in a profile based on selected locations in plan view.

25) Download this routine to move basic Civil 3D labels as shown in the video located here: https://youtu.be/mU1w4q1LIds

26) Autodesk developed a way to create a pipe catalogue with custom parts for use with Civil 3D using Inventor and Infraworks. It’s cumbersome and inefficient but essentially the steps are: Construct the part in Inventor (or in Autocad then import them into Inventor), assign parametric dimensions.  Use the plugin for Inventor to export for Infraworks (only available when Infraworks is installed).  In Infraworks, export the catalogue to use with Civil 3D.  The workflow is pretty painful and feels clunky (especially since Autocad already has a 3d-capable modeling system) but it’s there.  To go from Inventor to Infraworks watch the video here:  Inventor to Infraworks To go from Infraworks to Civil 3D catalogue a tutorial was provided by Civil 3d Plus that I’ve stored here: Infraworks to Civil 3D

27) Every once in a while I run into a pretty nasty bug with Civil 3D installations. Essentially, the pipe networks don’t work and it has to do with the msscript.ocx file.  Autodesks’ guide to fix it has it about 20% right.  In order to fix the bug, overwrite the files in the shared directory first, then register the 64bit version of the msscript.ocx file located in the syswow64 folder, not the 32.  https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/autocad/learn-explore/caas/sfdcarticles/sfdcarticles/Error-Script-Control-msscript-ocx-when-creating-pipe-network.html

Twinmotion, Flowscape, and Visual Art

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Recently both Twinmotion and Flowscape have been introduced to the digital artists’ arsenal. The developer of Flowscape calls the software a game, at least on their Discord channel. To be honest I think it’s just a money grab. Truth is who would play a game just building landscapes that they could use for nothing. Maybe I just don’t get it. The power of the software is its ability to create appealing surreal animated landscapes extremely quickly while giving the users the ability to import their own OBJ files. While there are technical aspects to the import (outlined on the developers’ Discord), once it’s figured out this software can be used for hundreds of applications related to visual and digital art.

Twinmotion’s library and ease of use make it a viable solution for archviz on a budget. Until now, there weren’t many options for architectural rendering that allowed the import of architectural files that didn’t cost several thousand dollars a year. I believe the makers of Twinmotion understood as technology has grown this shouldn’t be the case anymore and are working hard to develop a more applicable solution for smaller teams which will democratize the field, even more, making it accessible to anyone around the world.

 

C++ and the Unreal API

Of course, I’d fall in love with Unreal as a C# programmer. I mean, who doesn’t want to take the most difficult path to everything, am I right? Since I refuse to let my obsession of Unreal go away (primarily due to its volume effects and lighting/sky system), I’ve decided to dive into their API trying to understand the architecture while grasping the nuances of C++. Thankfully, the basics of C++ and C# aren’t that different. I can read the C++ language. That wasn’t the case when I went from Lisp to C#. That alone puts me light years ahead of where I was when I started with C#. For example, I didn’t expect to be able to understand the tutorial I followed to construct a C++ Unreal project with a pickup system and custom blueprint in a matter of a few hours. I noticed I essentially struggle with the details in C++ that I would struggle within C#. Great news because those challenges others often run into and generally get solved with a little research or asking questions in forums; this tells me that for me understanding the structure of a language is probably more important than understanding the specific details for every aspect of it.

The system I constructed involves a C++ project using the First Person Template. The person walks around picking up industrial-like barrels. I began the project using Unreal Engine 4.22. Since the tutorial I found was about four years old, the code had to be modified/corrected due to API changes over the years.

industrial barrels

The first step was to generate a new class in the editor.

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After that it was a matter of locating the correct classes to include and adding the text in the below images to the header (.h) and cpp files.

header

cppfile.JPG

In a few hours, I completed the task I set out to do and am confident that I can dive and start to push things considerably further. It took me a few years with C# and various APIs before I got to that same level of confidence. Since I can’t up and quit my career to find a mentor, I pursue this stuff on my own.  Because of that, I was hesitant to dive into something new.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand that C++ is considerably different than C#, but realizing the differences and having accomplished my first task using the Unreal Engine API quickly enough makes me more excited to dive in.

Dynamo for Civil 3D Part 4 – Node Colors

Personalizing content is often why people dive into customization.   I noticed a few examples online with different colors for their nodes in Dynamo.  It turns out we can adjust the theme and colors by altering the DynamoColorsandBrushes.xaml file here: Autodesk 2019\AutoCAD 2020\C3D\Dynamo\Core\UI\Themes\Modern. Unfortunately, to see the updates we have to close out Dynamo and Civil 3D then reopen them both.

example

Dynamo for Civil 3D Part 3

It was a bit of a speed bump to figure out the proper way to work between the Autocad and Civil 3D API through the Dynamo interface, but I’m there, and I love it. The information people have made available online is convoluted, difficult to understand, and frankly filled with unnecessary work (maybe even errors, misdirection). Perhaps they don’t understand they are making it harder than it needs to be.  Locating the libraries and understanding what the limits and capabilities of the Dynamo version of its “objects” took some time, but realizing that it’s not necessary to convert objects from Civil 3D types to Dynamo types and that I can use typical extensions and the API as is opened my eyes to a whole new world of visual programming. Now, with the ability to use the visual aspects of the node-based system, I can combine the power and functions of Dynamo with coding through Visual Studio to generate endless, scalable, dynamic, ever-growing procedural and generative designs.  You ever see something so big in your head it looks like a giant white whale, and wonder can you tackle it, or should you give up before it kills you?

potential

Dynamo for Civil 3D

I used Dynamo for Civil3D for the first time.  I love that I don’t have to close Civil 3D constantly just to load and test code, and after writing hundreds of thousands of lines of code over the years it’s exciting to not have to dig through a few hundred for simple actions.  There is an enormous amount of power in its parametric abilities right away, as demonstrated by the Autodesk’s team themselves, but I’m excited to try and use it for production and geometrical challenges.

example

#UnrealEngine, My New Favorite Thing

I absolutely LOVE Unreal Engine.  Of course I would, because I love C#.  Why wouldn’t I love the program built for C++ users when there’s an alternate, more popular viable option for C# writers. I don’t care. A guy can’t help who he falls in love with and this adventure will fall in line with everything other thing in my life (choosing the hardest possible path to my objective).

Tweaking a few materials online I was able to generate a pretty cool fading and rotating emissive material.   Looks like a Predator / Star Trek type armor shield or something. Probably completely useless for anything I’ll ever do (unless I get a night visual project in Vegas where Neon lights struggle for power XD). Still, was fun to play with.

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Zbrush

Adding a section on Zbrush. First post covers the curves helper plugin. Using this plugin is the simplest way to generate wires, cables, curves, rope and more for ZBrush.  To use the plugin all we have to do is use ZSpheres to construct our path and then select the generate button. This will trace the center of the ZSphere path.  After that we select a subtool and then choose the option to create the curve.  You can read about it more here:

http://www.zbrushcentral.com/showthread.php?208308-Useful-small-ZScripts-and-Macros-for-ZBrush-4R8&p=1222584&viewfull=1#post1222584

Only reason I am posting is because this is one of those trade secrets artists don’t like giving away so finding it in the first place was a major pain in the rear.  Hopefully I dropped in enough keywords in this that other people won’t have the same problem.

Computer Vision, ReCap, and Photoshop

Google generates their surface for Google Earth using a concept called computer vision.  Those of us not on the infinite-internet-funded budgets don’t have the pleasure of using that costly equipment but essentially the computers semi-automate the construction of a 3D surfaces, or meshes from flights.  The tech has advanced enough that mapping materials and textures has become more streamlined as well.  The rest of are stuck with a more budget-friendly (and labor intensive) approach to generating a 3D surface for our modeling and presentation purposes.   ReCap is software developed by Autodesk that can help to generate computer models from aerial photography, especially useful for someone with a a drone and the right permits.  Permitting for urban areas of major cities can be delayed by a year or more though, so many of us resort to manually modeling our surfaces the best we can in time constraints using whatever methods we can. One such method is using Recap and Google Earth.  By recording a 360-degree video rotating a surface in google earth we can convert those video frames to images and upload them to ReCap for processing.  Manually modeling high-priority buildings is best, but for low levels of detail (outlining areas and background), this has potential.  During my escapades I found Photoshop opens videos, allows me to crop them however I wish, and then render the frames to images. There are other methods but the simplicity in cropping and converting has made this my favorite.

 

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