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 Basic Tutorial: Primitives and basic modifiers  
 Objective: Initiation to the 3D modeling with the use of 2 basic tools: primitives and modifiers
 Difficulty: Very low
 Required time: 2 hours ( approximately )
 Progress files: Due to the low difficult of this tutorial, this one does not have progress files
 Index: 1- Primitives
2- Basic Modifiers
 Language Notes: tutorial original language: Spanish - comments about the translation to info@tutorials3d.com (we will gratify your help)
 Page: 1 of 1


Hi!! Welcome to the exciting world of 3D. The aim of this tutorial is explain the basic knowledge of 3dsmax to start your own models. Let's go! open your 3D design software (3dsmax). In the "create" section we can find the primitives panel:

as you see, there are a few… :-) Once created, we can change the primitive’s name and color in the ‘Name and Color’ field. In the main bar, you can find the tools to select, move, rotate, scale, align… our objects:

The main interface is structured in 4 viewports, by default they are the top, front, left and perspective viewports. Top, front and left view port are 2D viewports (to work with the planes) and the last view is a three-dimensional viewport. First of all, here is a tip: to move, rotate, etc. an object, you can do it in the 2D views, using the different viewports to do it. Let’s create our first primitive: a box. The method is similar for the rest of the primitives. Click in the box button to select it. Go to the bottom viewport and click and drag your mouse… we have the base (look the other viewports to see what is happening) unclick and move again the mouse, as you see in the viewports, now we are creating the height of the box:

We can configure the viewports to show the object in different modes: from "wireframe" mode to "smooth + highlights" mode. To configure the viewports just right click in the name of the viewport and select your options:

From this popup we can activate / deactivate the viewport reference grid. We can also change the viewport. To see the object and its edges, select "smooth + highlights" and "edges faces" (see the image).

Well, in the right bottom of the program interface, we have a couple of bottoms that allows us make zooms, maximize the viewport, make region zooms…

We can realize several operations with the objects, like scale , rotations , etc. To copy an object you have to select it and just shift + drag the object in the viewport with the "select and move" tool , when you unclick appears a popup like this:

Here, you can cancel the copy, but also select the clone as a copy (an identical duplicate), as an instance (if you change any parameter of an object also changes the others) or as a reference (changes in the original also changes the copy). Finally, you can adjust the number of copies.

Let's go with the primitives. Each primitive has some parameters, if you go to the "modify" panel you can change those parameters:

as you can see, for a box primitive, we can modify its dimensions and other parameters called "segments", these are the subdivisions of the object. If you alter it, you can see how new edges and polygons are added to the object that means it is a more complex object. Let's try with a sphere. Select and remove the box primitive ("Del" key), click and drag in a viewport:

As you see in the image, we are in the "modify" panel. Each primitive has its own parameters. By default, 3dsmax creates the primitives with a determinate number of segments, but in this panel, we can change the values. Try to increase or decrease the amount of segments in this sphere… with an elevate number of segments the sphere mesh is more perfect, but if we decrease the number of segments, it seems more and more a box… render the scene to watch better the difference. We can render the scene clicking in this button in the main bar


We can find the render options in the other teapot button:

we can choose the output size and other options, like render hidden objects. Close the "render options" window. In the main menu, in "Rendering-> Environment" we have more options:

here you can change the background color of your renders, maybe you don't like the actual (black, by default)…

To hide or unhide an object, let's go the "display" panel:

there are different options to hide / unhide objects.

gain in the modify panel, there is another option: "smooth". If this option is activated, the program shows the surface of the sphere very smooth, but if not, it is represented faceted.

we also can convert the sphere in an hemisphere… the best way is try yourself the options. Each primitive has its own parameters, and they are similar.

But we have not only primitives, we have also the extended primitives!!

these are a couple of objects a little bit more complex than the Standard primitives, we can find chamfer boxes and chamfer cylinders, capsules…

the creation method is the same as for the standard primitives. Any other extended primitives:

you can check some of these extended primitives, you can create basic shapes and distribute it in the space. Now we will practice with some basic modifiers that allow us to transform the primitives.


Basic Modifiers

In the "modify" panel, we can change the primitives parameters and also we can apply modifiers to the objects:

expand the "modifiers list" and select one of them (yes…, there are a lot…), for example, select "bend":

We are able to apply modifiers over other modifiers and change the first one, you just have to move them to the stack. We have a button that removes the selected modifier from the stack. We can also expand the tree of modifiers clicking in the "+" symbol, once the tree is expanded we can select the different sub-object levels. Finally, beside the modifiers name there is a bulb icon that lets us activate / deactivate the modifier.

"Bend", as its name means, bends the object on a determinate axis. Is very important that our object has an enough number of segments , if there are not enough segments, the modifier effect will be low , see the figure:

We can see that the first cylinder is not curved, we have only 1 height segment and the object geometry can not be adjusted to the modifier. The second cylinder has 3 segments and we can see the effect of the modifier, but with low detail because the cylinder has only 3 segments. The last cylinder has 6 segments and the modification is closer to the ideal transformation (represented with orange lines in the first cylinder - "gizmo" of the transformation). This is the best way to understand the importance of the segments in an object.

Let's apply a new modifier to our cylinder. Select "taper", this modifier scales the object from a determinate axis or plane:

your modifiers stack should be like this image:

you can change the order of the modifiers and see the result and apply so many modifiers as needed, just think that each modifier uses memory and the memory is not infinite :-)

The "twist" modifier allows us the rotation or twist the object over an axis. In the image We have applied a "twist" modifier and a "bend" modifier:


Clicking in the "gizmo" or "center" we are allowed to move it, rotate, scale … the possibilities of the modifier are infinites!! ;-)

Now, we can create an sphere and apply the FFD modifier:

as you see, a mesh of orange points appears surrounding the sphere, expand the modifier's tree and select "control points" :

Now, we can select the points of the modifier mesh and move it in the space, which makes a transformation in the topology of the mesh:

as you see, we can modify the number of points and adjust it to our necessities.

Well, is not so hard, ah?. This lesson had covered most important modifiers, but as you know, there are much more. The modifiers and primitives are a good resource, but is very hard make models from the real life only with them.

In our next tutorials, you can discover and learn other kind of objects, like splines, loft and compound objects… continue with us and our free tutorials!!

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