99 Tips & Tricks – 3DS Max

1. If using gamma then ensure the gamma settings of Bump/Specs/Normal/Opacity maps = 1.0. (Found in file load options.)

2. When using OpenEXR from Max>Composite, ensure you ‘Save as Tiles’ for increased performance. For AE = use Scanline option

3. If your transform (move/rotate/scale) gizmos disappear in the viewport, press “X” to bring them back. Will toggle on/off

4. When needing variations of the same bitmap, use the ‘colorcorrect’ map type to keep RAM overheads low for rendering

5. When rendering you rarely need to save above 16-bit. Hence this is the default for OpenEXR. Common misconception 32 is required.

6. Press Alt+X to make an object see-through in the viewport. Good for crowded/complex scenes (or Right Click>Object Properties)

7. To ignore an object when zooming (Z), Right Click the object and select Object Properties>Ignore Extents

8. Use ‘Hold/Fetch’ to store/restore a max file in memory when performing tasks which can not be undone. (Edit menu)

9. Use Gamma of 1.0 for HDR images, such as OpenEXR, and 2.2 for LDR imagery i.e. Jpegs (HDR=High Dynamic Range LDR=Low D R)

10. Press ‘8’ to toggle open the ‘environment/effects’ floating dialogue box, for rapidly changing exposure settings

11. Use mr production shaders for compositing CGI objects into photos. Explore the ‘ray switcher’ maps for accurate reflections

12. You can quickly rename multiple objects by selecting in the scene explorer, and Right Clicking. Automatically applies suffix No.

13. Rather than using ‘Groups’ use ‘Selection Sets’ found in the main menu bar. Also works on sub-selections i.e. poly/edge/face

14. Press F9 shortcut key to perform a re-render using the previously used camera and output settings

15. Remember the VFB/rendered frame window ‘previews’ Gamma. Ensure you save the setting into your files as well.

16. Press+hold the windows icon key+arrow keys to rapidly move floating windows/dialogue boxes around the screen

17. When using iRay & either material editor, swop your material renderer (F10) to mental ray. Increase mat editor performance

18. Do you change 3dsMax ‘s UI colour scheme? I recommend the ‘Dark’ scheme for working with colours efficiently.

19. Did you know can create button sets for common modifiers you repeatedly select. Button at bottom right of modifier window. Enhances productivity.

20. When rendering Z Depth from Max>Composite ensure you add an Invert node to the element for it work accurately in post

21. You can drag single or multiple modifiers between objects directly from the modifier panel into the viewport. Use Ctrl/Shift for instancing and copying

22. Use CTRL+ALT+Right Mouse button in the animation timeline to quickly extend your end frames

23. Use CTRL+ALT+Left Mouse button in the animation timeline to extend your start frames past frame zero.

24. Use CTRL+ALT+Middle Mouse button in the animation timeline to offset the whole of your original animation timeline

25. Want to use LiDar scanned point cloud data directly in ‘Max’ with mental ray then download Project Helix from Labs.Autodesk.com

26. You can use the hardware accelerated “Quicksilver” Renderer to render the new Stylised Viewport overlay effects (crayon/technical/graphite etc.) at a resolution of your choice

27. For calculating complex geometry during MassFX rigid body simulations, use the ‘Composite’ mesh type option in the modifier. Generates a ‘plane’ per face for accurate simulations

28. ALT+W will maximize/minimize the selected viewport.

29. Press Shift+C to unhide/hide cameras in the scene quickly

30. Not sure what size to render at for print? Go to Menu Bar>Rendering>PrintSizeWizard> and select relevant size.

31. Ensure you enable the ‘Geometry’ toggle option in the VFB (rendered frame window) for caching of objects & faster test rendering

32. You can assign shortcut keys to commonly opened applications i.e. 3ds Max/Photoshop. Right Click on desktop icon>Properties>Shortcut> add to ‘Shortcut Key:’ dialogue box

33. Use the ‘Autogrid’ toggle option when creating objects/shapes which need to sit on other faces. This can be found above the create buttons in the command panel

34. Did you know you can Right Click on the command panel in 2011+ to “minimize” it, & it will also auto expand when mouse overed for more screen viewport space or ‘real-estate.’

35. Use CTRL+R for orbiting your scene viewport.

36. Ensure you are using the FBX file format for bringing Revit data into ‘Max.’ On import I recommend using ‘Inches’ as scene units

37. Use the ‘ProOptimiser’ modifier to rapidly reduce your face count on geometry with a simple percentage value. Explore the other ‘Preserve vertices’ option by selecting vertex then calculating

38. Ensure you only use objects with a ‘volume’ when performing rigid body simulations (i.e. MassFX). For example don’t use a ‘Plane’ object as this can occasionally cause inaccuracies

39. You can make an instanced object ‘unique’ via the ‘Make Unique’ button at the bottom (middle) of the modifier list window

40. Did you know you can right click on a modifier to enable/disable it in the viewport or renderer for enhanced workflow flexibility

41. Press “Ctrl+Shift+Esc” to quickly switch to the MS Windows Task Manager

42. SLATE quick tip – with the node (or multiple) selected press ‘Z’ to zoom to it in the view tab. Great for when picking from scene object.

43. Ensure your projects are efficient & organised by using ‘Project Folders.’ Go to File icon>Manage>Set Project Folder

44. ‘Pointcache” modifier allows you to record vertex transform data & remove underlying rigs. Increasing playback performance of items like Biped

45. You can record animation from one object and reuse on another via the ‘Load/Save Animation’ options, under the animation menu header

46. Press the 7 shortcut key to toggle on/off viewport statistics showing frame speed and poly count

47. You can automate proxy map creation of existing bitmaps via the Asset Trackers main menu bar.

48. To disable auto-updates of material swatches in SLATE press “U” on the selected node.

49. Do you know why you have a dark UI colour scheme in 3dsmax? Its to reduce eye strain & so you can perceive colour more accurately

50. Use the MassFX toolset for scene setup & not just complex destruction of objects. For example, use it to quickly fill a vase with flowers. It’s a powerful toolset for these mundane tasks.

51. Right Click on the ‘Paint Select’ Icon, found on the main menu/toolbar, to amend its brush size settings. Will automatically open its ‘General’ settings tab. You can also change general spinner accuracy from this dialogue box.

52. Hold the ‘Windows’ key and press ‘Tab’ to quickly switch between open application windows. (pressing Tab repeatedly scrolls through)

53. See how your hardware compares to other users. Go to ‘Help>Customer involvement Program>+ select ‘Preview my CIP data’

54. SLATE UI short cut keys to remember > O,P,N. O=Open map/mat/controller, P=Parameter editor, & N=Navigator Toggles

55. Right-click on an empty area of the main menu to show a menu for working with multiple “Container systems”

56. When needing to Boolean objects use Create>Compound Objects>ProBoolean. This keeps a history in modifier allowing for more flexibility

57. Ensure you use ‘Groups’ for commonly used material/maps in SLATE. For enhanced recognition add a colour to the group

58. Open the powerful Asset Tracking system quickly with the Shift+T shortcut combination

59. When needing to apply decals, use the ‘Composite’ map type, with multiple UV Map Channels for greater control

60. Use the Flex Modifier to simulate soft-body dynamics. Spring-based system causing vertices to follow based off object movement

61. The Flex modifier will work with forces i.e. wind. Select ‘Add Force’ in the modifier, and select wind gizmo

(If you still reading this, then well done on getting this far, but it’s probably time for another well deserved cup of tea.)

62. To deform an animated object along a spline, use either the ‘Path Deform’ modifier or world space modifier

63. If you cant select the camera target in a scene, then Right Click the camera body and go to the top left Quad Menu option

64. You can reperform a Quad Menu operation by clicking the relevant QM header box. The blue text shows last operation

65. You can fix a selected objects position by going to Hierarchy Panel>Link Info>Locks Rollout> and turning on the relevant options

66. Customise the Select By Name floating dialogue by Right Clicking on a column header and choosing ‘configure columns’ Then drag the options

67. Render Depth Of Field separately using Render Setup>Render Elements>Add>Z Depth and add in a post-application such as Composite

68. You can quickly reverse animation by Main Toolbar>Track View>Edit Time>select the time in window>then choose Reverse Time button

69. Use the Skin Wrap Modifier to deform one object with another. Use a Low poly object to control a higher one for easier workflows

70. Use the Schematic View to remove modifiers from multiple objects with ease.

71. Link objects to Point Helpers for enhanced animation workflows. Command Panel>Create>Helpers>…

72. To create & preview object copy’s/instances before accepting the settings, Go to Tools>Array and explore the vast settings

73. Press 1,2,3,4 to quickly change between sub-object selection modes i.e. vertex, edge etc.

74. You can drag and drop one colour swatch to another. This will display a ‘Copy or Swap Colors’ Floating dialogue.

75. With an object selected and using SLATE you can Right-Click the material node and choose ‘Assign to Selection’ to quickly add to objects

76. Copy and Replace objects by using the Track View. Choose object and Right-Click copy. Select object to replace and choose Paste

77. Press N on the keyboard to go into Keyframe mode. Any parameter changes can now be easily animated.

78. Animation playback keyboard shortcuts > Home = Go to start frame End=last frame “/” = playback animation

79. Press F4 to toggle on/off show edged faces in the active viewport

80. To toggle on/off the main grid in your active viewport press the “G” keyboard shortcut

81. Store Colour swatches on a clipboard by going to Utilities Panel > Utilities Rollout > Color Clipboard Button. New Floater option allows you to Save and Load

82. In SLATE you can go to “Options>Enable Global Rendering” to turn off global rendering & then individually update the node press ALT+U for auto-update. If performance drops.

83. Right click on the ‘View’ Tab in SLATE to add a new view. Use this to add greater management to your scene materials. Right Click tab to rename.

84. Use your Mouse to control/animate the position of an object: Motion Panel > Assign Controller > select track > Position Motion Capture > Then record

85. Use the Substitute modifier to quickly replace an object with another, but keeping the original transforms

86. Press Spacebar to Lock a selection on or off. Useful in complex scenes, but only working on one object or switching views.

87. You can drag a material or map to an Editable Mesh Face Sub-Object selection. (or edit mesh modifier)

88. Create a Maxstart.max file in your root directory of the common settings for a new scene, to be automatically loaded each new session.

89. Keep track of what animation keys do: Add a custom Note Track. Track View>Select hierarchy item>track view toolbar> add note track button. Right-Click to edit note.

90. When click on Graphite polytools with ‘settings’ press the Shift key to enable the ‘Caddies’. In viewport controls for faster workflows.

91. When selecting a poly edge, press+hold Shift when selecting the adjacent edge, this will perform an auto-loop/ring selection on corresponding edges.

92. Press Shift+F to display the “Safe-Frames” Clips viewport to correct render output aspect ratio.

93. In the Compact Material Editor, press X to quickly scroll through the different slot arrays available. (less or more)

94. When needing to make terrain detail, use the Edit Poly > Paint Deformation > Push/Pull tools for painting in detail. Explore the Brush Options button for mirroring and size controls

95. Use Shift+Alt+Right Click to enable the MassFX Specific Quad menu. This brings up all the common tools needed for simulations.

96. Press “V” to bring up the Viewport Quadmenu in the active view. Allows you to choose which view to change to & learn the relevant shortcuts.

97. When using any of the brushes in Max, use Shift+Ctrl+Left Click for Radius, Shift+Alt+Left Click for Strength, and Right Click the main menu bar to bring up the ‘Brush Preset’ floating window.

98. In Compact Mat Editor the swatch corner arrows mean> White=applied to selection Black=applied to scene, but not selected

99. When using Backburner ensure you ‘Include Maps’ to speed up rendering on large projects by cutting down on network traffic and errors. Also explore the ‘Enable Notifications’ toggle for emailing notifications on job status.

Posted in 3DSMax.

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