3D Animation Workshop: Lesson 114: New Polygon Modeling in Max 4
Lesson 114 - New Polygon Modeling in Max 4 - Part 1
We began in the previous lesson a review of the new 3ds max 4 Â the product formerly known as 3D Studio MAX. I failed to mention an important fact there, namely that MAX 4 (as, I suspect, most people will choose to call it) officially runs only on Windows 2000 and Windows 98. As most professional and semi-pro MAX users have been running MAX on Windows NT, this decision seems remarkably rude. From what I'm able to tell thus far, however, the new MAX runs satisfactorily on NT (though less so than on Windows 2000), at least if you're not using its network rendering capabilities.
The biggest single change in the new MAX is the claimed integration of "true polygons" into its polygonal modeling environment. We'll begin to assess this important claim here. Some of what I'll cover has been addressed in earlier columns on character modeling in MAX, though in a different context. Like many other MAX users, I'm trying to figure out how the new toolset changes the way I approach polygonal (and subdivision surface) modeling in MAX. But as both the old and new toolsets coexist in MAX 4, I will present the older toolset as a living alternative to the new one.
The traditional pure polygonal mesh object in MAX has been the Editable Mesh. The Editable Mesh toolset for creating or modifying such geometry is precisely duplicated in the EditMesh modifier (which I rarely use), so our present discussion can safely speak only of Editable Mesh.
Editable Mesh geometry (like all MAX geometry) is composed exclusively of triangles. Regardless of the organization of the mesh into quadrangles or larger polygonal units for modeling purposes, the geometry ultimately rendered is wholly triangular. There's a good reason for this. Triangles are, necessarily, completely flat (planar), and therefore will always render correctly. However, there are many reasons to prefer quads (and sometimes larger n-gons) for modeling purposes. When quads are used, the mesh can be structured into rows and columns that are easier to visually comprehend, and therefore easier to edit. Equally important, subdivision surface algorithms that are used to smooth a mesh in organic modeling are far more effective with quad structures than with triangles.
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Created: March 12, 2001
Revised: March 21, 2001