3ds max Polygon Modeling Basics

Editable Mesh/Editable Poly

This tutorial describes the process of editing objects as an editable mesh or poly. When creating complex objects the standard primitives are often too simple to create a unique and abstract form. Editable mesh/poly gives you the opportunity to manipulate each component the object is composed of. These are vertices, edges, faces, borders, polygons and elements.

Vertices are the dots at line intersections.

Edges are lines connecting two vertices

Faces are two dimensional surfaces within a polygon (applies only with edit mesh)

Polygons are the planes confined by at least three edges. They can contain more than one face.

Borders are the edges surrounding a deleted polygon (applies only with edit poly)

An element is a collection of vertices, edges, faces and polygons. Each object like a box or a sphere is an element. Even if you attach them to another they will still stay separate elements.

  • Create an object from the “standard primitives” in the perspective viewport
  • Be sure to give the object some length, width and height segments while the object is still active, otherwise go to the modify panel and add segments to the object.
    • If you cannot see the different segments, change the view mode to edged faces.
  • The more segments you assign to the object the more detailed will it be.
    • This will also increase the workload you will have while modeling.
  • Now apply an editable mesh/poly on the object by:
    • Either right-clicking on the object and converting it to an editable mesh/poly.
    • This will collapse the original object and convert it to an editable mesh/poly.
    • Or applying the editable mesh/poly modifier from the modifier panel.
    • This option allows you to keep the original object and turn the modifier on and off, so you can see what you have done.
  • You can now manipulate each component of the mesh by picking the appropriate component button.
  • Find the different choices (vertexes, edges, faces, polygons, elements) under the modify panel/”selection”.
  • Try to edit your mesh by scaling, moving and rotating with each selection.

A Simple Example Using Chamfer in Edit Poly

An easy implementation for editable poly in landscape architecture could be rounding off the edges of an object. Imagine you have to create a curb or planks for a bench.

  • Create a box from the ‘standard primitives’
    • Convert it to an ‘editable poly’ and change your view mode to ‘edged faces’
  • Select ‘edges’ from the top of the ‘selection’ panel
    • Select one of the top edges from your box
  • Now apply a ‘chamfer’ from the ‘edit edges’ panel by clicking on the settings button
    • A small dialog will appear where you can manipulate the edge chamfer amount and toggle the amount of edge segments
    • Apply the chamfer by clicking the green check button or apply another chamfer by clicking on the green plus

Grow/Shrink Selection

A fast way of expanding or reducing your selection is ‘grow’ or ‘shrink’ in the ‘selection’ roll out. It adds or subtracts adjacent components of the object.

Soft selection

Another way of handling selections is the ‘soft selection’ roll out. Just as the name implies ‘soft selection’ gives you the chance to influence the surrounding components of your selection in a smooth way.

  • Open the ‘soft selection’ roll out and check the box ‘use soft selection’.
  • Choose a component from the ‘selection’ panel and make a selection in your model.
  • You will see already that the components surrounding your selection show different colors.
    • The different colors show you how much the surrounding area is influenced.
    • Toggle the size of the influenced area by changing the value of the ‘falloff’.
  • When manipulating your object you will see how all the colored areas are affected.
  • ‘Pinch’ and ‘Bubble’ change the effect the soft selection will have.
    • The two dimensional graph gives an idea how the soft selection will turn out.
  • A soft selection can also be additionally painted by using the ‘paint soft selection’ tools at the bottom of the soft selection roll out.

Extrusions in Edit Mesh/Poly

Extrude in the ‘edit’ roll out gives the chance to create extrusions from your object. This is a very basic way of editing the mesh of your object.

To create an extrusion simply:

  • Choose one of the components the object is composed of.
  • Click on the settings button next to ‘extrude’ in the ‘edit’ roll out.
  • Put in the desired values in the dialog.
  • Confirm by clicking on the green check button.
    • Or click on the plus to create another extrusion.

Mesh Smooth and Turbo Smooth

An easy way for making objects smoother are the ‘Mesh smooth’ and the ‘Turbo smooth’ modifiers, found in the modifier rollout. They subdivide the surfaces your objects consist of, creating a much finer mesh structure.

Both have the same effect, but Turbo smooth is much faster.

The ‘mesh smooth’ modifier is included in the ‘editable poly’ modifier under ‘edit geometry’.

  • To toggle the smoothness simply set the number of iterations in the ‘Main’ rollout.
  • Note that the number of iterations will dramatically increase the expanse of calculating your computer has to do.
  • In a big scene it makes much sense to keep the number of iterations low but set the number of render iterations to the desired amount.
    • That way you are able to keep the calculating low but get nice renderings.

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