3D Modelling with 3ds of Contents
Introducing 3ds Max 2
Make yourself familiar with 3d Max 4
Creating the Coke can 3D model in 3ds Max 5
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Setting up a Project Folder in 3ds Max 2019 (and Beyond) 6
Blueprint Setup 7
Building the Mesh 14
Pivot the Spline and Lathe 17
Smoothing the Mesh 24
Texture the 33
The Textured 45
Lights and Cameras 46
Creating the Sprite bottle in 3ds Max 50
Creating your third model in 3ds Max 72
Appendix A — 3ds 74
3ds Familiarisation 76
For the 3D modelling beginner 77
Appendix B — Download 3ds Max 82
Appendix C — Alternative Methods for Modelling a 82
Coke can modelling 82
Sprite bottle modelling 83
Appendix D — Using Boolean Operations to insert Dimples 83
Appendix E — UVW Unwrap Modifier in 3ds Max 85
Introducing 3ds to Lab 2 for the Mobile Web 3D Applications module. In lab 1 you will recall that you developed a responsive and mobile first web page with a fluid grid-based layout using Bootstrap. You will adapt (or redesign) this web page into a 3D App template in lab 4. In lab 3 you will learn how to convert your lab 2 3D models into a format ready to integrate into your 3D App in lab 4. In labs 5, 6 and to 7 you will acquire further skills allowing you to refine your 3D App into a dynamic version built around an MVC design pattern using PHP to fetch data from an SQLite database at the backend. If you have not finished lab 1 yet, you will need to get a move on and finish it as soon as possible in your own time.
In Lab 2, this tutorial introduces Autodesk 3ds Max and the basic principles of 3D modelling and texturing required for this particular 3D App module. This link takes you to the Autodesk Education site giving you access to download and install 3ds max as a Student, see Figure 1.
Go to the Get Started tab, at some point you will need to registers for an account, then follow the Get Product tab to the download and pick a version to install. In the University labs, as of January 2021 we had version 2019 and 2020 installed, I think? It doesn’t really matter as each new version published each year has very few changes and the interface is virtually the same. This year, 2022, we suggest that you install version 2022 on your Windows 10 platform.
Figure 1: Access 3ds Max on the Autodesk Education site for installation on your home Windows PC
In this tutorial we cover all the basic skills needed without any prior knowledge, but you must be prepared to investigate, read around the subject and engage with 3D modelling and 3ds max outside the labs. For example, there are many online tutorials available to learn 3D modelling using 3ds Max — some are linked in the Canvas site for this module. For this 3D App module, we will give you sufficient instructions in this tutorial to allow you to create (i.e. model, texture, illuminate and setup a camera studio) 3D models of objects with sufficient complexity to acquire the skills needed to complete the assignment for this module. The three models you should complete in Lab 2 are:
· A Coke can — Introduces modelling from splines, texture mapping, etc.
· A Sprite bottle — introduces modelling from standard primitive shapes and adapting these shapes to create more complex models
· A Dr Pepper cup — increases and refines your 3D modelling experience
You can see the theme for your initial basic responsive and mobile first 3D App developing now — a Coca Cola 3D App. This basic 3D App will be the foundation upon which to build your skills and complete the 3D App for your final assignment.
Some if you may already be familiar with other 3D content authoring packages, e.g. May, Blender, Cinema 4D or others. We cannot cover every package, but feel free to use those packages. However, there is a basic requirements. You need to be able to integrate your 3D models into your 3d App, and this is currently done using X3D. So, whatever package you choose to use you will need to be able to export your 3D models and convert them to X3D. We show you a workflow on how to do this with 3ds max to X3D in lab 3, this workflow will change if you use any other 3D content authoring package.
To reward success in using a 3D Authoring package and different workflow to that outlined in Lab 2 and lab 3 tutorials we allocate an automatic 5 marks (total 10) for 3D Content Authoring and the associated Workflow. These marks are also available if using a mix of 3ds Max and other packages, etc. This element of the marking scheme is designed to allow those without Windows PC at home to use 3D content authoring and other workflows because 3ds Max is not available on iOS platforms.
Read through this tutorial and get a basic idea of requirements first, irrespective of what 3d content authoring package you plan to use, check out the assignment requirements re. the 3D models, and consider meeting these requirements by following suitable third party YouTube tutorial, this is an acceptable approach.
Make yourself familiar with 3d you start this tutorial — Creating the Coke can, Sprite bottle and Dr Pepper Cup — if you have no prior experience with 3ds Max you should have a play with the 3ds Max interface and familiarise yourself with generating some basic primitives, try some of the 3ds Max tutorials provided by Autodesk. To do this jump to Appendix A — 3ds before starting the next section.
Also, don’t forget to download and install 3ds Max 2020 on your own computer, note it will only work on a Windows operating system, see the Canvas Laboratory 2 — Building 3D content for your 3D App with 3ds Max page for more details or jump to Appendix B — Download 3ds Max.
Creating the Coke can 3D model in 3ds model the Coke, Sprite and Dr Pepper models it will, of course, take longer than the time allocated for Lab 2 unless you are super quick. So, you should put some other time in too — don’t forget a 15-credit module has some 10 hours of work per credit expected!
In Lab 2 you will create three, relatively straight forward, models that serve to get you into the modelling, texturing, illumination and camera setup skills needed to create reasonably realistic 3D objects for rendering in a mobile 3D App — your 3D App objects will be modelled, textured, and illuminated specifically for rendering in a WebGL context, which means relatively low polygon count for the geometry, application of standard materials, cameras and illumination suitable for scanline rendering — photorealistic materials and illumination will not work, but you can use these methods to create extra media content, e.g. 3D images. Please check out the lab notes for this lab session in Canvas for an overview and talk to the module convenor if you are not sure.
For the first part of this module (up to Lab 6), you will develop a basic 3D App that renders the three basic objects modelled in Lab 2, this lab. As mentioned above, these objects are the Coke can, Sprite bottle, and the Dr Pepper cup. This tutorial starts with detailed instructions to model the Coke can. Once you have finished the Coke can model, you will use a different method to create a Sprite bottle, followed again by using any of the two methods so far (or any other method that you might discover if you research deeper) to create a Dr Pepper paper cup, see Figure 2 for illustrations of potential blueprint images.
The main purpose behind Lab 2 is to familiarise yourself with some basic modelling, texturing, lighting and camera techniques through the creation of these 3 objects, while at the same time ensuring you are familiar with using the 3ds Max interface so that you can create appropriate 3D objects for your assignment, i.e. objects that can be modelled using similar techniques.
Figure 2: 3D object blueprints
For this lab, the first thing you need to do is download the blue prints for these objects, starting with the can_blueprint.jpg and can_texture.jpg from Canvas; these images are located in the Lab 2 section on Canvas for this Mobile Web 3D Applications module. The blueprint will be used to ensure that the can’s proportions are correct. The texture will provide colour and detail (rather than using complex geometry) once the model is finished.
Before we set up the Coke can blue print, if you did jump to Appendix A and started to have a play with 3ds Max you will need to get rid of the objects you created while becoming familiar with the 3ds Max interface. To do this you could simply delete all the objects in the perspective viewpoint by selecting and deleting them (Tip! Ctrl+A selects all objects in the viewports, then Edit => Delete) or you could just close or reset the file without saving and open a new file.
Setting up a Project Folder in 3ds 3ds Max if you don’t currently have it open. Now set up a project in 3ds Max:
1. First go to Customize > Preferences to open the Preference Settings tab, then select the files tab and check the Convert local file paths to relative and click ok. This ensures that when you move your 3ds Max files from your laptop to the lab pc and back your files are all relative to your project folder and not your hard drive.
· Note, if you only intend to use your home PC to create 3D models this does not matter.
2. Next select File > Project > Create Default … on the flyout and then navigate to your root project folder, see Figure 3 and select ok.
· I have already created three folders for lab 2: lab2/coke; lab2/sprite and lab2/pepper
3. 3ds Max will then create a whole bunch of folders under your Coke folder along with a path configuration file.
· If you do not configure your files relatively, you will need to update the paths if you bring files back and forth from home; most likely.
· You will save your 3ds Max file (e.g. Coke_can_blueprint.3ds) in the scenes folder, and any assets, e.g. the Coke can texture and blue print in the sceneassets/images folder. Don’t forget to download these from Canvas Laboratory 2 — Building 3D content for your 3D App with 3ds Max.
Figure 3: Set up a project folder in 3ds Max
· Most of the rest of the folders, you won’t need, but leave them there for now.
· You save the empty scene from 3ds max now and this will create a scene file in the scenes folder. Call it coke_can.
Alternatively, you can manage your files manually, just set up a scenes and assets folder and save your models to the scenes folder, with sub-folders for each model and strore your textures in the assets/textures folder! Note, it is a good idea to save often and use meaningful names that signify stages of modelling as you go along, e.g. Coke_can_blueprint_setup, Coke_can_geometry-0.1, Coke_can_geometry-complete, Coke_can_geometry-textured, etc. Note the + button next to the file name box, which you can use to increment saves!
You will most likely need to model at home on your 3ds Max installation, so you may need to transfer files back and forth between the lab and your home PC or laptop (if you are using the University labs), hence the need to set up relatively. Alternatively, you could consider using a cloud solution like Dropbox or the University’ Box.
Let’s begin working with 3ds Max by setting up the blueprint for the coke can.
There is an old, very good 3ds Max 2014 tutorial that shows you how to set up a 3D virtual studio for modelling an airplane that is worth a read:
If you completed this ‘Modelling an Airplane’ 3ds Max tutorial you will already be familiar with this process.
Movin on, we will do this by creating a primitive object, a plane.
Now click the Create button in the Command panel, then choose Plane, see Figure 4, and draw it in the Left viewport.
Figure 4: Select the Plane from the Create menu Standard primities.
Select the plane using the Select and Move button (as the plane is the only object in the scene, it may already be selected), then click the Modify button on the right-hand side panel . You will see on the Modify menu the plane has been given a name, in this case Plane001 and you can see the Plane primitive selected under the Modifier List. Figure 5 illustrates the 3ds Max interface with the plane selected and I have circled in RED the parameter you can change to set the plane size, and the circle in BLUE shows the current coordinates for the plane; you will change these to setup the plane size and position it in the scene.
For the observant amongst you, you will notice Figure 5 is a snapshot of 3ds Max 2017, as I look at version 2022 it appears identical, so I am not updating the image in this tutorial. If there is a significant change to the interface I will update the image.
Figure 5: Plane drawn in the left viewport and selected ready to modify its size
Change the parameters for the plane size:
· Length: 1024.0
· Width 728.0
· Length Segs: 1
· Width Segs: 1
Render Multipliers should be set to 1.0 for both Scale and Density, see Figure 6. Note, it is important to get the aspect ratio right for the blueprint, because you will be tracing around the blue print (or reference image). If the aspect ratio is wrong your final model’s aspect ratio will be wrong. Also, we are not bothered about the actual dimensions, so you can to the Customise menu on the top menu bar, navigate down to the Units Setup and select Generic Units, if it is not already selected.
Figure 6: Set the plane’s dimensions, segments and render multipliers.
Then position the plane by setting the X, Y, Z coordinates to that shown in Figure 7 (this is found at the bottom of the screen in the middle, I’ve circled it in blue, Figure 15). Make sure the Plane is selected first. Note, sometimes we have a tendency to select and slightly move the object if the ‘select and move’ button is on in the main toolbar, so keep an eye on this and make sure the following coordinates are not changed.
Figure 7: Set the plane coordinate to 1000, 0, 0
By Setting X to 1000 you have moved the plane 1000 units in the X direction, this puts the blue print for the Coke can back 1000 unit in the X direction so that you can model the object at the origin 0,0,0 of the viewport. You will notice when an object is not selected this shows the coordinates of the cursor in the selected viewport, and when you select an object if you drag the red, green or blue arrows to position the object the corresponding coordinate is updated. Alternatively, as you did, you can type in the position you want. It should look as shown in Figure 8. If you can’t see it as a coloured shape in the viewport, press F3 to disable wireframe mode.
Figure 8: The plane set up ready to texture with the Coke can blueprint.
You are now going to apply the blue print as a texture map to the plane. Open the material editor by pressing “M”, and then make sure you are using the Compact Material Editor. You can select it by clicking Modes > Compact Material Editor, see Figure 9. When you open the compact material editor you may find the Material/Map Browser has been set to Physical Material, id so click on it and select Standard (Legacy). This is probably because on starting up 3ds Max the renderer was probably set to a photorealistic renders, i.e. Arnold, rather than a Scan line Renderer. If so, you will also need to select Rendering on the main toolbar and set that to Scan Line Renderer (we are not doing Photorealistic rendering in this module).
Select a material by clicking on the first sphere and change its diffuse parameter to the can_blueprint.jpg image. You can do this by clicking on the Diffuse button, Figure 9, and then browsing to the file via the Bitmap button, which should be in your sceneassets folder. Your 3ds Max already knows about this folder if you used the project folder setup.
Figure 9: The Compact material editor
If you organised your own files, just navigate to your assets, etc. Select the can_blueprint and open, see Figure 10.
Figure 10: Select the can_blueprint image file for use as a blueprint.
This applies the can_blueprint.jpg to the material sphere. However, there is a simpler way of doing this. If you undo the above actions with Crtl+Z, you can re-select the can_blueprint.jpg by simply dragging it from its current location (e.g. sceneassets) and placing it on the first material sphere.
Select a second material sphere and repeat the process for the can_texture.jpg file. This will be the texture material for the can that you will use later.
Grab the material sphere for the can_blueprint and drag it onto the plane. If it doesn’t display in the viewport make sure you click the Show Shaded Material in Viewport button in the material editor , see Figure 11.
Figure 11: Apply the can_blueprint texture to the plane to act as a backdrop for tracing around
At this point, you might like to work in [Standard + Default Shading], and switch back and forth to wireframe as and when it is useful.
The blueprint is a cross section of a drink can, which will be used as a reference image. This is useful in recreating the correct can shape. If you read up on the airplane tutorial, you may also recall that you are effectively setting up a Virtual Studio, albeit with only 1 side.
This concludes the blueprint setup and it should look like that illustrated in Figure 12 — you can close the material editor for now.
Figure 12: The blueprint setup as required in the Left viewport.
Building the Mesh
In this section, we will be building the polygon structure of the Coke can using splines and a lathe function. This is quite a popular method for modelling symmetrical objects, but you might like to have a look at Appendix C which details alternative methods for modelling a Coke can, or simply do a Google search for YouTube tutorials.
The method we will use for the Coke can is to trace around the blueprint silhouette using a line primitive called the spline tool. Splines are vector drawn lines that can be used to create polygon structures. Because the can is a symmetrical cylinder, we can begin by tracing the outline of the can blueprint.
Go to the Create panel, by clicking the Create button , and select the shape drawing tools , then select the Line tool in the Splines dropdown, set up the line parameters as shown in Figure 13 and the line interpolation method as shown in Figure 14. Then enlarge your Left viewport, see Figure 15. This is the viewport where you can see the can blue print, maximise this viewport using the Toggle button (lower right-hand corner of the 3ds Max interface) and zoom out a bit depending on your screen resolution. I find this easier than having to adjust the size, and pan around as I trace, but you can do that also. You might also want to disable the grid lines to see the blueprint better by pressing G.
Figure 13: Setup the line parameters.
Note, we haven’t set Bezier, we can convert to Bezier and adjust later if we want to, but we shouldn’t need to. Also, set the interpolation options as follows:
Figure 14: Set up the line interpolation method.
In the Left viewport you should see that shown in Figure 24.
Figure 15: The blueprint setup for tracing round with the Line Object Type.
Carefully trace the right half of the can as shown in the picture below, right click to finish the spline. You can hold the Shift key down to draw straight lines for the top and side of the can. It is a good idea to start and finish just short of the vertical centre line of the Coke can, because we will use the lath operation to create the geometry, which will then leave a hole at the top and bottom that can be closed later.
Select the Modify button to reposition any of the points; you will need to select the Vertex option in the Modify panel. At this stage you can also make more points, or vertex, using the Insert tool, which you will find by scrolling down the geometry rollout. Figure 16 illustrates the initial line drawn around the silhouette of the blue
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