If you are a new user of 3ds max or an experienced one you know that if you want to improve your workflow you need to see inside the application a bit more. Every application can be used in a so called general way where you just use the basic functions for your purpose, but if you want to get from it the maximum you have to know something extra. With just some extra knowledge you can improve your viewport navigation, tools selection or optimize the time for test renders. There is a lot of ways how to improve your modelling or rendering skills but as by any other software you should first improve the skill needed to handle the application itself. I will focus on the default install of 3ds max which include also MentalRay and not on any third party tools, plugins or renderers.
These tips & tricks can help you to optimize and speed up your workflow and get more experience with 3ds max. Take them just like a guide and not something you need to strictly follow. Also, the workflow tips listed below are used by our tutorials and can help you to follow them.
Every new release of 3ds max brings a lot of new improvements and bug fixes but also brings new ones. Even that it’s not so bad like by a popular OS system, still it needs to be fixed. The developer team by Autodesk is trying to gather all bug reports and suggestions form users and implement fixes for this as soon as they can. Sometimes the fixes are fixing things which you even don’t use or need but sometimes you are just waiting when they release a new service pack or update. So, a basic rule here is to keep your program up to date and try to follow the releases of the updates or service packs to be able to install them before you face any problem.
By default 3ds max is configured to load the scene using preconfigured default settings which includes so called „Generic units“ which is a virtual unit system used by 3ds max, Default Scanline Render for rendering and also standard maps inside the „Material Editor“. Usually users are changings this only for a certain purpose at a certain moment, but if you want to save time you can configure 3ds max to load customized settings just on start-up.
The workflow inside 3ds max can be optimized just by knowing the some important shortcuts which makes your life much easier and save a lot of time. The shortcuts can be customized and for sure you will not use all of them but some you should know and use every time you model. Here few which can help you with speeding up your workflow.
Modelling is basically a process where you use all available tools and options to recreate an object or a character using a technique with which you are familiar or is the most useful for this purpose. If we are talking about techniques you can be sure that there a lot of them which you can use for a certain object but usually is only one the „right“ one. It’s not about that you somehow create the object or character, it’s about you do it right. Every mistake, every triangle and every bump on your mesh would be visible if you will not start your modelling process with the right technique or you will close eyes on every failure you did to the model.
One of the most important parts by rendering is the lightning. Here not only depends which lights you choose but also what configuration you set-up for the scene. If you want to push your renders to realistic you need to master this part of rendering. You need to understand also the fact that every scene will probably need a different set-up and parameters with which you can achieve the best render and this of course in halt a lot of test renders before you can be sure that this are the right one. I will focus on MentalRay and not at any third party renderer but this don’t mean that you can’t use this also for them.
Rendering is the final step and it’s also depending on every step which was before; modelling, materials and lightning. With a good set-up you can achieve a realistic render within a good time, but if you set-up this wrong you either will render the image for a long time but without any visible improvements or your render will look too plastic and unrealistic. By rendering is a simple rule; start low and go high. This means that before you place high values for samples and rendering, do some test renders to see if everything is as it should. Test renders will help you to save valuable time and set-up the render right.
By rendering high resolution images you can be challenged with „low memory“ issues caused directly by 3DsMax. This issue using MentalRay can be interpreted by 3DsMax as error messages, crashing or by strange elements in the final render.
The solving of this issue should be simple by adding more memory to your system, but when you are running a 32-bit system you are limited by the architecture of the system which will allow you to use something about 3GB of RAM. From these 3GB RAM your system is taking a noticeable part and at the end you would be left with 2GB RAM which would be not enough no matter what you do.
gc() - Garbage Collection freescenebitmaps() - Cleans up in texture memory clearUndoBuffer()- Removes your Undo’s