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Autodesk 3D Studio Max - Review

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by Aaron (subscribe)
I like to be opinionated sometimes & express my views and can be highly judgemental when I want to be..
Published March 14th 2015
From the world leader in CAD software, Autodesk have made a wonderful piece of software that's powerful which is only limited by your imagination, called 3D Studio Max. This application has been around for quite sometime and has evolved greatly since its initial release in the early 90's on the DOS platform.

If you consider yourself a creative person who has an interest for 3D animation and super realistic computer generated graphics, this is the software for you! Just like with any highly capable program, its vast amount of bells and whistles can make things feel intimidating at first, but over time you'll overcome this and focus on the essential functionality until your ready for more.

I've made a tutorial that shows how to make a basic 3D chair in just the space of 2 minutes, it gets to the point quickly and hones in only on what you need to know about at any given time, so you can feel can feel confident that you know what's going on.

It has everything you'd expect such as viewing your model from multiple views, sufficient basic manipulation tools so you can carve /extrude out your model exactly as you intended to. With some 3D programs you may feel the need to download loads of 3rd party plugins to extend its functionality, but not with 3ds max! There are countless modifiers builtin that allow for many fancy/advanced effects to be applied, such as the FDD Box modifier for a super easy to use model warping apparatus, that's much more flexible/forgiving than warping with just the absolute basic tools.

There's plenty of tools for character animation/rigging in its arsenal, so you can get a character modelled and walking/talking in no time. Thanks to the CAT rig which cuts out all the effort of making a custom rig, you don't have to spend hours fiddling around and instead can focus on having fun. Tools to apply looping for walk cycles are at your finger tips, as well as a tool called "the curve editor" so you can perfect the X Y Z motions and get a grasp on any issues through a side view mode.

Texturing is a breeze with the UVunwrap modifier, you just apply the philosophy of an unwrapped cube so you can create a composition of the polygon surface areas that'll have textures applied to them. This does require at least basic knowledge of Adobe Photoshop though and is one of the easier tasks to do.

Probably the easiest of everything in 3ds is the animation tools at the bottom of the screen. You essentially have key frames that are indicated by rectangles for the selected object in the time line in animation mode when enabled (the big red key). You drag the header rectangle to the desired point in time and then move your model to its new coordinates! The program then figures out how to tween the motion between A - B!

The program comes with the wonderful renderer called "mental ray" which is fairly good with decent looking capabilities, but it's not the industry standard. Things that I don't like about 3D Studio Max is its stability. It's highly advised you make several iterations of your work because files (at times) can crash and corrupt. There is an auto saving feature, but it's not worth gambling on it. Also the lack of Mac OS X support is a bummer as well which may make Maya from Autodesk as a good alternative if you can't run the Windows operating system.

There's so much more I could say about this software and below is a sample of work which I've done ENTIRELY in this program.

3DS Max Art example
3d studio max art
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