Recently I was confronted with one question from our users regarding a picture made from small boxes which were forming a larger box together with reflective material to this surface. The overall modelling by this case isn’t any problem and the inbuilt array function will create this kind of object without problems but the reflections on this flat surface is a different story. But let’s take it step by step. The inbuilt array functions inside 3ds Max is used for creating one-, two-, and three-dimensional arrays. For example, a row of five objects is a single-dimension array, even though it takes up three-dimensional space in the scene. An array of objects that's five rows by three columns is a two-dimensional array, and an array of objects that's five rows by three columns by two levels is a three-dimensional array. As you can see, using this function you can create very simple but also very complex objects where repeating of the same objects is required.
Let’s do few exercises with it.
Before we start the actual modelling we need to set-up 3ds Max. Go to “Rendering – Render Setup” and change the rendering resolution to 1024x568px and the default renderer to “MentalRay”. Next to these settings we will change the default units to “cm” from “generic units”. Go to “Customize – Units Setup” and change the unit setup to “metric”. After these initial settings we can start. Create a box with these dimensions “40x12x6”. The initial object has the pivot cantered inside his center, but we want to move it to one corner. Click on the “Hierarchy” tab and choose “Affect pivot only”. You will immediately see how the pivot representing the axis change, move it from the front view to one corner and click again on “Affect pivot only” to turn it off. As you can see the pivot is now moved and we can apply the “Array” function on this object. Inside the “Tools” menu choose “Array”, a new window will pop-up with the actual array settings. Hit “preview” and leave the “1D count” on the value 10. Now, click on the small arrow next to move and change the value of the “z-axis” to 60. Our object is multiplied by 10 and moved in the “z-axis” by a value of 60 creating an array of our initial object in a column. Click again on the small arrow but this time next to rotate and change the value for the “z-axis” to 100 degrees. Our array will rotate according our value and create a basic shape of a stair in a 1D array.
Let’s create few more examples. Create a sphere anywhere in the perspective view with a radius of “8”. Change the pivot of the sphere using the same method we applied before on the box to something you see on the image below. Start the “Array” window, change the 1D “Count” to 30 and hit preview. Change the “z-axis” in the rotate menu to 360 degrees for creating a ring of our spheres. Now, we still have a 1D array, so click on the 3D dimension and set the “Count” to 3 and the “z-axis” value to 30. Our array will be instantly multiplied by 3 and moved up in the “z-axis” by the value of 30 creating a 3D dimensional array. This method you can use for distributing objects on a cylinder our any similar object.