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.

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2 Responses to DESN 230: HW#4 – Zurg’s Gun, Part 1

  1. Joshua Cushman says:

    Why are you having them use “Standard” materials?

    • Scott S says:

      For reference planes, standard materials typically work best. There are less switches and these planes will never be rendered. The self-illumination on the standard material is less tricky than the ones for the MR arch&design materials and shows better in the viewport.

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