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