DESN 230: HW#4 – Zurg’s Gun, Part 1

Homework #4: Emperor Zurg’s Ion Blaster, Part 1

We are going to dive headfirst into the world of modeling from reference. I have grabbed some reference from the web, provided below, and you will want to use these to help you model. I will also provide you with some more reference from the model I created.

This homework is a little different as you will have a full 2 weeks to create this model. It is also different as for the most part, it will be up to you to create this model. I will provide basic instructions and tutorials for any tough parts of the model, but the rest is up to you to remember the techniques and information of the previous weeks. As always, I am available for questions via email.


Copyright Pixar Animation

Side View


 Setting Up Reference Planes in 3ds Max

There are 2 different ways to set up your reference views in 3ds Max. I prefer to use reference planes instead of viewport backgrounds, but both are equally effective. I have created the reference views for you, you can download them all in one Zip file here. Remember, Right-Click and Save As.

Reference Views Zip File

From reference I found on, I know that the gun is roughly 13″ long. The image dimensions that I have provided are 1400 pixels wide by 1050 pixels high. We can easily convert those image dimensions to the size of the plane we need to create in 3ds Max. In the Left viewport, create a Plane that is 14″ wide by 10.5″ high. All I did was take the pixels and use those as inches. So 1400 pixels = 14.00″ and 1050 pixels = 10.50″. This gives us a plane with the exact proportions of our reference image and gets is very close to the real world size of the gun. This is the same size for all of your other reference planes that you need.

I have also included some wireframe views of my model so you can start to see how the gun was laid out from a topographical standpoint. These are also the same size as the reference views so you can swap them out or use them instead.

Wireframe Reference Views Zip File

Assigning an Image to the Reference Plane

Now that you have your reference planes created, you will need to apply the reference image to it. To do this, bring up your material editor (Hotkey: M). You can also find the material editor in your 3ds Max Main Toolbar. This brings up the Slate Material editor, which I do not care much for. It can get complicated quickly when you start getting into complex materials. I prefer to use the Compact Material editor, or if you have experience with later version of max, you’ll instantly recognize the compact editor.

To change to the Compact Material Editor, go to Mode -> Compact Editor.

Now that you have the “old school” 3ds Max material editor, we need to create a standard, self-illuminated material with our reference image. To create a standard material, select the first material slot (1) and click where it says “Standard” in the reference image (2). Note, this may say “Mental Ray” or something akin to that, depending on how your material libraries are set up. Once you click on it, a dialog will pop up with all over the various material options. You want to look under “Standard” materials, and choose “Standard” Material (3). This will give you the basic 3ds Max material.

We now need to load our image file into the diffuse slot (4). Click on the diffuse image slot (4) and another dialog will show up. We want to add a bitmap file, and search for the “Blaster-LEFT.jpg” image. Once you have done so, use the “Go To Parent” button (5) to get back to the main material settings. Change the self-illumination (6) to 100 so that the image is fully visible in your scene. Apply this material to your plane using the “Assign Material to Selection” (7) button. Note, you’ll have to have your plane selected for this to work properly. Finally, to see the image in the viewport, click the “Show Map in Viewport”(8) button.

At this point, this completes Part 1. The other parts will be created as needed during the course of this exercise. Please keep checking back or check your email accounts as I will keep everyone aware of each time a new part is posted.

Posted in DESN 230, Tutorials | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

DESN 230: HW#3 – Toys

Homework #3: Model A Toy Car

In this session, we will model a toy truck. This tutorial was adapted from Hatice Bayramoglu’s original tutorial on CG Tuts+.

All credit goes to the original author. I simply adopted their techniques for this class, changed a few steps to make it easier, and added in a few more explanation steps. However, the original concept is still credited to Hatice Bayramoglu.

Please note: Some of my values will differ as this class is being taught using feet and inches, rather than generic 3ds Max units.


Download (right-click the link and “choose save as”), save in the proper location, and open the supplied Max file.

Download me first!

You’ll want to make sure “Edged Faces is Active”. Remember that to toggle from Wireframe to Shaded View is (Hotkey: Shift+W). Also remember that to switch to the Maximized Viewport is (Hotkey: Alt+W).  While is Maximized Viewport mode, to switch from the various views is the First Letter of the Viewport as a keyboard shortcut, listed below. The primary views for this tutorial will be the Top, Front, and Right views.

  • Top View = Hotkey: T
  • Right View = Hotkey: CTRL+R (Remember, R alone is the Scale Tool)
  • Front View = Hotkey: CTRL+F (Remember, F alone is Freeze. If you do Freeze something, Y will being up the Unfreeze Object menu.)
  • Left View = Hotkey: L
  • Orthographic View = Hold down ALT+Middle Mouse and rotate to the desired view.
  • Zoom Extents = Hotkey: CTRL+’ (Like AutoCAD this zooms the view to your objects)

Step 1:

Create a box that is 5′ in Length, 3′ in Width, and 5′ in Height in the Top Viewport. Center this box at World origin (0,0,0). Leave all segments at 1, we will add segments as we go.

Step 2:

Convert this box to an Editable Poly (Hotkey: Shift+P), or (1) Right-Click in the viewport to open your Quad Menu, and (2) select Convert To -> Editable Poly.

Step 3:

We now want to add in some edges to we can start to model out the toy’s details. Still in the Top Viewport, activate the Edge Selection (1), (Hotkey: 2). With edge selection active, draw a marquee (Click+Drag) selection around the edges on the top and bottom of the box.

Use the Connect button from either the Modifier Panel or the Quad Menu (2). For this, we want to use the Connect Settings button (3), the window icon looking thing next to the Connect Button.

Click on the settings button, and chose 3 segments to add (4). Click the green Check Mark (5) to finally add in the edges. What you see before you click that button is simply a preview.

Step 4:

Add 3 segments in the Front AND Left viewport using the same technique shown in Step 3. Hint: To simplify this step we can select the edges we want to add segments to and instead of clicking the Connect Settings button, simply click Connect and it will remember the previous settings. Which in this case is adding 3 edges. You should now have a box looking like the one below.

Step 5:

Now we need to add in some edges to help us extrude out the drivers’ compartment of this truck. Right now, we’ve created the base of the truck. To do this, we need to be back into Edge Mode (remember the Hotkey?). Select the edges on the box (1) and choose the Ring button (2) to quickly and easily select every edge we need. Now with those edges still selected, click the Connect Settings (3) button using either method shown in Step 3. Add 1 edge, and also add in a value of -50 to the Slide feature (4). What Slide does is control how far the edges shift over. This helps you from having to connect the edges, then select and move the edge into place. Using Slide, we can all do this from the connect dialog.

Step 6:

Activate (1) Polygon Mode (HotKey: 4) and select the faces (2), then Extrude (3) them a value of 3′. Remember as with the connect process, the bring up the dialog you want to use the Extrude Settings (3) button. Extrude, like most commands, can be accessed through either the Quad Menu or the Modifier Panel.

Step 7:

Add in more edge connections using the same techniques you have been using. Lines you need to add are the ones shown in Red.

Remember to use Connect Settings to change your values and also you will want to make sure that the Slide Value is set back to 0.

Step 8:

Before we proceed, we now want to delete half of the truck. In truth, this step should have been done much earlier, around Step 2, but now is a good time to do this step to avoid having to double our workload. Why you ask? No, I’m not insane. We do this to avoid having to do the exact same work on both sides of the truck. Since this truck is symmetrical, we only want to model one side to completion and then mirror that over to complete the other side in one keystroke.

In the Top Viewport, select the polygons as shown and hit the Delete key. Remember to use the Selection Marquee (Click+Drag). We now should only have half a truck.

Step 9:

In the Orthographic Viewport, select the polygons as shown (1). Extrude these Polygons inwards, simply use the Extrude button and NOT the Settings Button this time (2). Click the Extrude Button, then Click+Drag in the view to move the polygons to the inside of the truck (3). Once you’ve moved the polygons inwards, Right-Click anywhere in the view to deactivate the Extrude command.

With the original polygons still selected, go to the Top View and move them to be aligned with the center of the truck (1). You can move them by hand with your 2.5D Snaps On, or you can simply type in 0 in the X value of the World Coordinates (2). Then delete the original polygons so you will be able to see through the cab (3).

Step 10:

We need to add in some Edge Information to the polygons we just extruded to make sure we can create our front window. Select one of the lines shown in Red (1), use the Ring button to select them all, and (2) Connect 1 edge using all default settings.

In the Top View, align the edge you just created (1), highlighted in Blue, to the existing edge shown (2), highlighted in Pink. You’ll want your 2.5D Snaps On (3) and it may be easier to do this in (4) Vertex Mode (Hotkey: 1). When finished, you should only have the middle line viable, the one highlighted in Pink.

Step 11:

Add in the new edges highlighted in Red. Due to the way Max creates edges, you have to add each line in separate. The top line (1) is connected with a slide value of 50 and the bottom line (2) is connected with a slide value of -50.

Select the faces shown (1) in both the front of the truck and the inside of the cab. With these faces selected, use the (2) Bridge button. This will create a nice inset all the way through to the cab, creating the opening for the front windshield.

After the Bridge function, select the faces shown (3), and delete them.

Step 12:

Note: The more I think about it, we could probably skip this step and just add supporting edges in later on. We need to add a slight chamfer to the driver cab openings, to give it a softer look. Select the edges shown in 1A and 1B, and use the Loop tool to finish the selection.

Once you have the selection, click on the (1) Chamfer Settings button, and enter in a (2) value of .5″ in the dialog menu. You should see a result like the image where you have a beveled edge.

Step 13:

Select the edge shown in Red (1), and move it up in the Z direction to around the area shown in Green (2). You don’t have to be exact, but we need to move this line up to create a better engine compartment in the next few steps.

Add in one edge (1) along the bottom of the truck using default values.

Step 14:

Select the faces shown (1), and extrude them a value of 2′ to create the engine compartment On the inside of the truck, new faces have been created by the extrude, you will need to delete these faces to keep the inside “hollow”.

One the engine compartment, add in 2 new edges (1) using all default values.

Step 15:

Add in the roofs for the truck. These are simple boxes, converted to Editable Polygons, and the verts moved down in the front to give each of these a slight ramp look to it. Using edge connections along with the pinch and slide tools that you’ve been taught, I’ve added in some supporting edges to these roofs.  Try to match this as close as you can. Remember to only create half of the roof, we’ll be mirroring it later on, and delete any inside face so that the model looks hollow.

Step 16:

Add the front grill for the truck. Create a box (remember only to create half of it), convert it to an Editable Poly, and have it extend out slightly from the body of the truck.

Add in the edges shown, 5 edges in the vertical, shown in Blue, and 12 edges in the horizontal, shown in Red.

Then use the Bridge tool to create the openings by selected the faces on both sides of the grill at every other line starting from the top, but leaving the last 3 rows in tact.

To give the grill a slight bend, select the verts shown (1), and turn Soft Selection On (2). Make sure that “Affect Backfacing” is Unchecked, and set the falloff distance to 1’0″ (3). Then, move the verts out in the Y direction so you get a slight bowing effect. Soft selection allows you to move one set of verts and have it affect other verts over a distance.

Step 17:

Create some running boards at the bottom of the truck by extruding the bottom faces down, then selected the new faces you just created and extrude them again away from the truck as shown below. The extrusion process may give you some crooked verts, try to keep them straight by making sure they are all in a nice even line. Typically, these uneven verts are at the corners, simply move them in the X/Y directions to line them up.

Step 18:

Create a Cylinder in the Right Viewport with a 1′ Radius and 4″ of height. Keep the Height and Cap Segments at 1 and set the Sides to 24. Convert this to an Editable Poly.

Select BOTH the front and back faces (1) of the cylinder and Inset them 2″ (2).

With the faces still select, do an Inset again but this time use a distance of 6″.

Step 19:

In the Right Viewport, select the faces shown on both sides of the wheel, use Selection Marquees, and do a Bridge operation to cut the holes between the spokes.

In the Right Viewport again, select the inner most face of the wheel and using the Inset operation, roughly match the image below. Don’t worry about being exact.

Then, using Extrudes in both the positive and negative direction, add the detail shown below. Again, do not worry about being exact.

On the back of the wheel, create an inset for the axel and extrude this face to the end of the truck body. Once this is complete, Copy-Instance the wheel to the back of the truck.

Step 20:

Still in the Right Viewport, draw a line (1) (Hotkey: S) roughly outlining the side fender (2). Keep the edges as corners, we will smooth them out in the next step. The Red dots in the image is roughly where I placed a point in the line and numbered in the order to create them. Again, get it close but don’t worry about exactly matching it.

With the line you just drew selected, go into Vertex mode (Hotkey: 1) (1) and select the verts circled in Blue (2). With them selected, Right-Click in the viewport to bring up your Quad-Menu and choose Smooth (3) as a vertex type. You should see those selected verts smooth out. Now, simply adjust them to give yourself a nice curving fender (4). Finally, move the line to the outside of the truck in the general location.

Step 21:

With the line still selected, apply a Sweep Modifier to it from the Modify Panel drop-down menu. Change the type to a Bar (1). With a Length of 10″ and a Width of 6″ (2). Under the Sweep Parameters section, change the sweep pivot to the Lower Right Corner (3).

Step 22:

The toy truck is nearly complete. Now we must ensure that when we apply the Symmetry Modifier, everything will mirror correctly. To do this, select your individual objects and go under the Hierarchy Menu (1) and select “Affect Pivot Only” (2). Make sure their Pivot Points (3) are at X-World Coordinate 0 (4). Make sure you click “Affect Pivot Only” again after you are complete to deactivate this, if you do not you will always be in this mode.

Step 23:

Once you have all of your Pivot Points correct, select the objects and apply the Symmetry Modifier from the Modify Panel drop-down menu. As long as your pivot is correct, your object should mirror itself correctly. You may have to play with the different mirror axis’ (1), such as selecting X, Y, or Z.

Step 24:

For the purposes of this tutorial, we can call the truck complete. Save your file in the proper naming convention and submit it to Blackboard. If you want, you can continue on to add extra detail such as headlights and a front fender.

Posted in DESN 230, Tutorials | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

DESN 230: HW#1

Part 1 (100 points): Fill out the PDF, link below, and submit via Blackboard. Make sure you read the directions as to how to properly name the file. The PDF should allow you to fill in the answers in Adobe Reader or Acrobat as well as save the file.

DESN 230 Homework#1 PDF File

Part 2 (100 points): Write a 1-2 page paper about what you would like to learn from this class as well as how you think you will use 3ds Max in your chosen profession. Please use 12 point Arial font and double space the paper. Please include your full name at the top of the paper. Save the file as either a Word document or PDF (preferred format) using the format of LASTNAME-FIRSTNAME_Paper01. Any file not named correctly, will receive half points. There are no right or wrong answers or topics. This assignment will help me get to know you as well as tailor the course more to the general desire of the class.

Posted in DESN 230 | Tagged | Leave a comment

Intro 01: 3ds Max Set Up for Production

3ds Max Set Up for Production

Usually, if you are using Max on a campus lab you will have to set these preferences each time. If you are using Max on your personal computer, you will only have to set these preferences once and they will be set.

Setting Up Your Units

To set up your units go to the Customize Menu -> Units Setup.

System Units

The first thing you’ll want to do is to set up the correct system unit.  This is perhaps one of the more critical settings you’ll need to check. If this is off, than the entire scale of your project will be off. You want to make sure that Max is set to 1 Unit = 1 Inch.

Display Units

Now that the system units are set, it is time to change how those are displayed. The default display unit in Max is a generic unit that needs to be switched over to something that is a little more architectural based.  You’ll want to switch your Display Unit Scale to “US Standard”. You can use either “Feet w/Fractional Inches” or “Feet w/Decimal Inches.” They are both the same, it is just a preference to the user how you want to see your measurements displayed. Inputting measurements does not affect this, meaning if you choose to have your display set to Fractional Inches, you can input 1.25” and get 1 ¼” displayed. However, if you do use Fractional Inches you will want to set the accuracy to at least 1/32 if not 1/64.

Once the system units and display units preferences are set, they will be saved with the file. If there is a difference between two files in the System Unit, a warning box will appear. This typically is rare, but can happen if you download a model from the internet that was created in an area that uses the Metric System.  As mentioned, these preferences are saved in the file, so you shouldn’t have to set them every time you re-open the project you are working on. It would be a good practice to check every so often, just to make sure.

The next section will cover some user settings that need to be enabled. These settings will default back to the original settings every time you log out of a lab machine.

Setting Up Your Preferences

To access the preferences, go to the Customize Menu -> Preferences.

General Preferences

The first tab is the General Preferences tab. There are two areas that you need to pay attention to.

Scene Selection

Enabling this will cause you to be able to select objects as you were familiar with in AutoCAD. The crossing window means that any object that is crossed by the selection window will be selected.

Layer Defaults

By default, the later versions of Max are set to create objects on layers which are similar to AutoCAD. Many users prefer layers, some do not. This can get confusing for some, so it may be best to just create everything without layers and as you progress through the project you can manually create and add objects to layers. Many users prefer to the control you get when you can manually create layers. Check this off if you do not want to use layers as well.

Make sure that “Use Real-World Texture Coordinates” is unchecked. Again, in later versions of Max this is enabled by default. Real-World coordinates are okay, but you have far less control over them and your texture has to be created to a Real-World scale, which most textures are not. It is best if this is left off.

File Preferences

The second tab is the File Preferences tab. Of all of the settings, this tab holds the most important setting you need to ensure is enabled.

Compress on Save

This one is extremely important that it is enabled. For whatever reason, Autodesk has decided that this should be defaulted to off. What this setting does is take your file, and saves it in a compressed state which reduces your overall file size. You can tell if this option is off pretty quickly if you save just a few cube objects and your saved file size is 14 Megabytes. You always want to have this on. There is no noticeable difference in load or save times with it enabled, and you will save space with smaller file sizes.

However, for Vray users, having this option on seems to create havoc when you load render preferences. Almost all of the time, at least in Max 2011, having compress on save enabled will cause Max to crash if you load a Vray rendering preset. So if this is the case, you may be better off just dealing with the larger file sizes. Mental Ray rendering is NOT affected, only Vray.

Backup Interval

For most users, having Autoback up run every 5 minutes can get annoying. While you always want to keep this feature on, you might want to set it to a big longer of a time, such as around every 30 minutes or so.

Viewport Preferences

The third tab is the preferences for your viewport. Changing a few things on here will make navigation in your viewport a little easier for you.

Mouse Control

You will want to make sure that “Zoom About Mouse Point” is checked for both orthographic and perspective views. What this does is when you use the middle mouse wheel to zoom in the viewport, the view will zoom to where your mouse cursor is. If this option is disabled, the viewport will zoom always to the center of the view. This can get annoying when you want to zoom in on a specific area of your model, which is why it is preferred that you have “Zoom About Mouse Point” enabled.

Posted in DESN 230, Tutorials | Tagged , | Leave a comment


I’m currently working on a complete overhaul of my blog. Stay tuned for exciting new content in the world of Arch Viz

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment