3ds max – Model a terrain from an Autocad topographical plan file

Software:
3ds max 2019

To model a terrain form an DWG (Autocad) file containing a topographical plan:

  1. Import the DWG file to into the 3ds max scene, and move the plan to the center of the 3ds max scene if necessary.
  2. Select the VIZBlock object and extract its linked geometry:
    Annotation 2019-12-12 181552.jpg
  3. Right click the Linked Geometry object and select:
    Convert To: Editable Spline
    Annotation-2019-12-12-181552b.jpg
  4. Enter Spline editing mode, select all the splines that are not part of the topography, and delete, or detach them so only the terrain ‘height lines’ will remain.
    Annotation 2019-12-12 182223.jpg
    Annotation 2019-12-12 182255.jpg
  5. With the topographical plan editable spline selected,
    Choose Create > Compound Objects > Terrain
    Annotation 2019-12-12 182640.jpg
  6. A Terrain object is now created:
    Annotation 2019-12-12 182716.jpg

To retopologize the terrain mesh to more usable quad polygon mesh:

  1. Create a new Plane primitive above the terrain mesh, slightly smaller at the sides, that has the wanted polygon resolution:
    Annotation 2019-12-12 183519.jpg
  2. From the Top view (important), with the new plane selected, choose:
    Create > Compound Objects > Conform:
    Annotation 2019-12-12 183607.jpg
  3. Set the creation method to ‘Move“, click Pick Wrap-To Object and than click the terrain mesh.
    It will now take some time for the new conformed mesh to be calculated..
    When the new object is ready, right click the viewport to exit the object picking mode.
    Annotation 2019-12-12 184044.jpg
  4. The Conform object is no ready, and contains both the terrain mesh and the new conformed quad polygon mesh:
    Right click it and choose:Convert To: Editable PolyAnnotation 2019-12-12 184552.jpg
  5. In Element editing mode, select the terrain mesh part and delete it to remain only with the new quad polygon mesh:
    Annotation 2019-12-12 184621.jpg
  6. Fix non conformed mesh parts by either moving or deleting them:
    Annotation 2019-12-12 184655Annotation 2019-12-12 184719
  7. The new retopologized terrain is ready:
    Annotation 2019-12-12 184752.jpg

 

The example demonstrated here is a DWG file by Jose Vega, free to download from Bibliocad.com

3ds max – Use the Particle-Flow Lock/Bond test to have particles move on a surface in

Software:
3ds max 2019

The Lock/Bond Particle Flow test can be used to have particle movement restricted to a surface.

lock_bond.gif

This example shows a simple setup in which the particle teapots have a Speed operator set to Random 3D mode that causes them to move in random directions,
While at the same time the Lock/Bond test forces them to ‘stick’ to the surface:

Untitled-1

 

V-Ray – Underwater rendering tip

Software:
3ds max 2019 | V-Ray Next

I decided to do some test renders for an underwater swimming pool scene with 3ds max and V-Ray,
And happily found out that my initial geeky academic approach to the subject was actually outdated and unnecessary.
> look down at the bottom for the correct sample renders.

In this example there is a VRaySun & VRaySky for the daylight render setup and a Caustics calculation to create the light lensing effects on the under water surfaces.

The wrong way:
Having ancient habits in the subject,
I first flipped the water\air surface’s normals so they’ll point down into the water (towards the camera), And set the water material’s IOR to 0.75 ( 1 / 1.333 ) so instead of being an “air to water” material, it will become a “water to air” material.
This produced a non realistic result.
Viewed from underwater, the air surface should have a very dominant mirror reflection at most angles.Untitled-1.jpg

 

The Correct Way:
It seems that in V-Ray nothing special should be setup in terms of the water material.
You don’t have to create a special water-to-air material like I thought at first.
Its a regular water material, and the water surface is facing upwards like it should,
And when the camera is underwater it renders the water surface correctly as an air surface from withing the water.

The pool water material setup:
Note that Affect Shadows is turned off so the surface will generate caustics and not fake transparent shadows, and that Reflect on back side is turned on to produce more detailed reflections.
mat.jpg

This produced the following result in which the reflection/refraction look correct but the water is still too simple:Untitled-2.jpg

Improved wave deformation for the water surface, added detail using a Noise bump in the water material and a sense of depth with Volumetric Fog:Untitled-4.jpg

Finally remembered to activate Reflect on back side at the water material to add more realistic reflection detail, some basic contrast in the V-Ray VFB,
And a shark because I couldn’t help it…. 😀
Untitled-6.jpg

Related:
> Understanding Transparency Render Settings
> Island / Sea-shore tip

 

 

3ds max – Transform Gizmo disappearing

Software:
3ds max 2019

I’ve been operating 3ds max for 20 years and this always gets me by surprise again and again, especially when working with students 😦

In the past, the option to hide/show the Transform Gizmo had a hot key X, and curiously, even though that way it would happen more frequently that the Gizmo would disappear by mistake, when it was X I actually remembered it, and remembered to tell my students to just press X.

The menu command:
VIews > Show Transform Gizmo

I never remember it,
And also, I can’t logically except that it’s a system setting that is kept even when resetting the scene or opening a new file.

Untitled-5

3ds max – Unwrap UVW snapping to a defined grid

Software:
3ds max 2018

There are cases where we need to have the UV borders and edges placed precisely on a certain grid. an example of this is when preparing a UV layout intended for baked lightmaps in a game engine, that should preferably be aligned to a 64 by 64 or 128 by 128 grid.

To set the Unwrap UVW editor window grid to 64 by 64:

  1. In the Unwrap Options window:
    Set the Checker display to 64/20 which is 3.2.
    Set the Grid Size to 1/64 which is 0.015625 (the numeric field displays the value rounded to 0.016)
  2. Turn on the grid display in View > Show Grid.
  3. In the Unwrap Snap Settings, make sure Grid Snap is checked.
    * Hold and drag the snap button to open the Snap Settings.
  4. Activate Snap.

Note:
It works only in Vertex selection mode.

UV_Snap.jpg

Exporting 3D camera data from After Effects to 3ds max

Software:
After Effects 2020

  1. Download the AE3D_Export script here:
    http://www.urbanspaceman.net/shared/AEscripts/AE3Dexport/AE3D_Export.jsx
  2. Perform 3D tracking on the footage if necessary.
  3. Select the 3D Camera layer and also Null layers if available.
  4. Choose File > Scripts > Run Script File and locate the AE3D_Export script.
  5. In the Script parameters highlight 3ds max.
  6. Click Options and set the scale.
    * you might need to try and see the scale in 3ds max to set it right.
  7. Set a name for the exported ms (MaxScript) file.
  8. Click Export.
    The resulting MaxScript file will appear on the desktop named <your after effects project name>.ms
    Note:
    You may be prompted to check the Allow Scripts to Write Files and Access Network option in File > Preferences > Scripts & Expressions.
  9. Drag the generated MaxScript file into the 3ds max viewport.
    The script will run and create an animated Camera and Dummy object, and also set the timeline range to fit the animation.
  10. Create a new Point Helper object.
  11. Align the new Point Helper to the Dummy object in both position and orientation.
  12. Group the Camera and the Dummy objects together, and link the group to a new Point Helper.
    This will allow for easy orientation and scaling.
  13. Set the Point Helper object’s rotation to default (0,0,0) , this will also reset the Dummy + Camera group’s orientation relative to the world.
    Scale the Point Helper object if needed, to scale the whole camera setup.
  14. Display the original video sequence as viewport background to check how the camera motion fits the video.
    The center of your Point Helper should appear “glued” to a specific point in the background video. 
Untitled-2

 

Related:
After Effects 3D Camera tracking

Deactivate Snap to Frames in 3ds max

Software:
3ds max 2017

  1. Click the Time Configuration button or right click the animation playback buttons to open the Time Configuration Window.
  2. In the Time Configuration window, set Time Display to FRAME:TICKS
  3. Right click the timeline and choose Configure > Snap To Frames to toggle the main timeline frame snapping.
  4. In the Dope Sheet editor, activate or deactivate the Snap To Frames button to toggle the Dope Sheet frame snapping.

Untitled-3

Untitled-2

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