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3d Max Modeling Hub for Beginners

Updated on November 12, 2015
 Through a series of tutorials which I have written you will be able to create this simple scene.
Through a series of tutorials which I have written you will be able to create this simple scene.
3d max upon opening
3d max upon opening
This is the bottom view before you extrude the legs
This is the bottom view before you extrude the legs
sceen capture of legs
sceen capture of legs
Material editor
Material editor
render of your table
render of your table

Look at Pictures for reference photos

Modeling in 3D Studio Max (the basics)

By Douglas Siclari

Part 1

Creating a table in 3d Max (box modeling and shape modification)

First when you open up 3d max you need to make sure that your unit settings are set to what you will be using. This is done by clicking on the Customize menu, and then clicking the unit setup. When you do this, a dialog box will pop up. The most common is US Standard feet and inches. However, it might be useful to use millimeters if you are modeling out a part that will be engineered later (if you need to put them on sheets later I would recommend that you use millimeters).

Now, that you have that done let’s begin the actual process of modeling.( This tutorial will not go over setting up templates to model from. If you would like to know more about template modeling I would recommend that you check out either or as both provide excellent tutorials of various skill levels.) On the right hand side of your screen you will see that there is a task pane with 6 tabs going across the top. The one that we are concerned with for now is the first of these tabs known as the create tab. If it is not already selected, click on it now.

You will notice that there are 10 buttons that you can select from when you click on the create tab. There are box, sphere, cylinder, torus, teapot, cone, Geosphere, tube, pyramid, and plane. For this exercise we will be using the box tool, so click on it now. Once selected click within the front viewport and drag the mouse to form the perimeter of the rectangle. Then drag your mouse towards you or away from you to give depth to your object. Congrats, you have made an utter dull box on your screen. We want something a little more exciting, so let’s manipulate it a little bit.

If you look to the right task pane, you will notice that there is a series of drop down menus available. Click on parameters to see exactly what your box is about. You will notice that you have a length, width and a height input area. That is pretty self explanatory there. However, what do the three boxes underneath mean? Well, these three boxes divide up your object (think of a knife cutting into a cake in even intervals). Experiment with these to see how each effects your box. Once you are comfortable with how this works set your box to the following 4,3,4.

We will now move on to the second tab in the task pane (the one that looks like part to a blue tire). This is known as the modifier tab. Click on your box and then click on the tab. You will see that the information available is almost the same as the parameters tab. That will not do for manipulating this object. What we need to do is convert our box to an editable mesh. Note: it is very important that you pay attention to the various conversion types as they have different ways of representing your object.

When you have converted your object to an editable mesh, you will see that you have a whole lot more options. Experiment with the various buttons (after you have saved of course!). Looking near the top of the task pane, you will see that there are 5 buttons under selection. These arevertex, edge, face, polygon, and element. Click in the left hand view. You will notice that in the upper left hand corner you have a line that says left. Click on this line to open up a selection menu that will allow you to change the view. What we are looking for is a bottom orthographic view. Click to select. Select the faces shown in the picture below by holding the ctrl key and clicking the area you wish to select.

With the faces selected, go back to the task pane on the right. You will notice if you move your cursor around that a hand appears. When the hand appears click, hold, and scroll the task pane up so that it shows the extrude option under the edit geometry section (note you might have to click the + sign on geometry selection to open this section) Click on the number input box beside the extrusion option and type in 30mm (or if you are using American standard units type 2”). You may notice that our table looks a little bulky. That can be easily fixed. First go to the front view. Click on the modify tab and select polygons. Select all but the recently extruded polygons. Click on the scale button which is located on the top toolbar two buttons down from the move tool (or directly left to the view dropdown menu).

You will see that there is a yellow triangle now located in the center of the selected faces. With your mouse scroll over the triangle until only the y axis is highlighted. Click on the y axis and while holding the select button, move your mouse down so that the faces are scaled closer together. Having done this you will notice that the edges form somewhat of a v shape. To fix this, click on the move tool and move the whole selection downward till the edge is straight. Note the capture on the next page.

We now have a very basic table top. What we need to do now is spruce it up a little bit. For this part of the tutorial I am going to switch my units to feet and inches. To do this step follow the same steps that we used to originally set the units (customize à units). Go to the top view once your units are set. Click on the create tab to open up the various shapes available to create. What we will be using now is the cylinder tool. With the cylinder button selected click in the top view and drag the mouse to form the radius of the cylinder. At this point it is not essential that you have the radius perfect as we will be changing it soon. When you have done this you will notice that the cross hairs still remain on the viewport. This is because we have not given the cylinder any depth. To do this simply drag the mouse downward. Note how you can see the depth in both the front view and the perspective view.

Ok we have some basic shapes but it does not really look like anything, and the cylinder that I have on the screen is huge. Let’s first get the cylinder right. Click on the modify tab. You will see that there are a few parameters that we can adjust. Change the radius to 3” and the height to 3’. Change the height segments to 10 (usually the less segments you have the better it is for rendering time. However, for this tutorial we will need more sections as we are about to manipulate the cylinder and want a smoother look in the end). You will see the changes we have made in various views. Now, let’s address the tabletop (box). In the front view click on the box. Make sure that the move tool is selected and then click on the y axis and move the box up to where it sits directly on top of the cylinder. I don’t know about you but my table top is a little small for the cylinder leg. We need to scale the entire table top. Using the top view, click on the table top and then the scale button. What we want to do is scale to table till only one square corner cover the cylinder. You may have to use the move tool to get the desired look. Feel free to also scale various parts of the box to get the shape of the tabletop that you want. When you are done with your scaling (using polygon and element in combination with the move tool) your screen should resemble something like that given below. I scaled down the extruded legs by holding the control key and selecting them using the polygon select option.

Our table is coming together. However, it only has one leg and that leg is very uninteresting. We can fix this. First, click on the cylinder. Now, click on the modify tab. On the modifier list dropdown tab scroll down and select twist. When the parameter box opens click on the number input box beside angle and type in 700. You will see the change in all views.

Well, our model is almost complete. All that is needed is three more legs. Because the legs are exactly the same it would be pointless to remodel them. Therefore, we will just duplicate them. Click on the cylinder and then click on the move tool. In the top view hold down the shift key and move the cylinder to the left so that it is in the extruded portion of the table top. Release the mouse button. When you do this a pop up window appears. Since all the legs are the same we can click ok for instance. Repeat the duplication method for the remaining legs. The end product should look like the capture below.

The final step in this tutorial will be to add a wood texture to the model. To do this Click on the selection tool located four spaces to the left of the move tool (or directly to the right of the all drop down menu). In the front view click and drag a box around the entire table. Notice that everything is selected. Hit M to open up the material editor. Select one of the grey balls.

Under main material parameters you will see that there is a small box beside the color display box. Click it. This opens the material/map browser. Scroll down until you see the wood option. Double click to select it. You are automaticly returned to the material editor. Now, click on the button that has a checkerboard and a light in it. This will show the map in the view port once it is applied. To apply the texture click on the button that has the green box. Note that the table is now textured. To see the final result click on the teapot on the toolbar for a render.

Congratulations you have made a table.


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