Fix those blank .max icons!

I don't know why but every time I install a new version of 3dsmax, my .max files go blank, and it's just simply annoying.  I hadn't found a good way to fix this without really messing things up until now.  FileTypesMan easilly fixes this, and now that I can see my max files in windows, it makes getting things done much easier.

Run FileTypesMan, and simply find the .max extension, and double click on it.  Under Default Icon click the "..." button, then choose "Browse..."

Locate the 3dsmax Icons folder (for 2015, it's C:\Program Files\Autodesk\3ds Max 2015\Icons), and choose "file_3dsmax_max.ico".  Hit Ok, Ok, Boom!

You can download it below, and when I update my 3dsmax again, I'll be coming back here to download this handy file :)

Download: FileTypesMan.zip


Viewport Tricks

I often find that I can't always see the material I'm trying to tweak in my viewport. Several materials that are particularly difficult to see clearly in the viewport are Vray's LightMaterial and Refractive Materials.

If my VrayLightMaterial is controlled by a texture map, it becomes really hard to tweak the UV's in the viewport because the map is displayed as white. For refractive objects, (when using v-ray), if they are 100% refractive, then they disappear completey from the viewport, and are really hard to locate in your viewport shaded mode. Sure you can turn on "Edged Faces", but this doesn't still solve the issue of glass panes that have 6 faces, as they are very hard to see in wire frame.  To make my life a little easier, and keep me from steering blind in the viewport, a trick I do is to use the Shell material for the above examples.

For the VrayLightMaterial, Place an instance of your VrayLightMaterial into the Original Material slot of the Shell Material. Then under the Baked Material slot, you can put another material in there that has an instance of your texture map that's driving the VrayLight Material. It can be a Standard, A&D, or Vray Material...it doesn't matter because it's just for the viewport.

For the glass material, I basically do the same thing, but on the standard material, I can tweak the opacity and color to represent something similar to the renderable material.

Now the viewport makes much more sense, and easier to work and edit. I can actually see the glass, and even represents the right color. Now I can also see the texture map on my light balls and edit the UV's as I please.


Merry Christmas!....and snow

It has been a while since I've posted, but things have been busy.  However with the season, I thought it appropriate to make a posting on how to manually paint snow into your 3d scenes.  I can't take credit for this trick as I learned this from Fred Ruff at Bent Image Lab, and my posting of this here is more for me and just documenting the process down so I remember it.

This basically begins by creating a BlobMesh.  This is the object that will build up the snow, and what's interesting about this one is that it creates an organic object that sticks within a certain proximity.

So click anywhere to create the BlobMesh object, and adjust the size and coarseness of the mesh so that it looks similar to the snow that we'll be painting in.  You can come back to adjust the scale, tension, etc. later.

Next, you will want to create an editable poly, off to the side of your scene.  This is the object that will drive the creation of the BlobMesh.

Now, go back and select the BlobMesh, and under Blob Objects choose the Pick button and select the editable poly.  In my case it was a box that I added an editable poly modifier to it.

Once you choose the box, you will see it listed in the Blob Objects list.  You will also notice that any vertices in the editable poly are now represented with the BlobMesh.  Basically you're creating the blob from the vertices of this object.

Now if you go back and select your poly and go to the sub-vertex mode, choose the create button to add vertices.  Now when you click in your scene it will add more BlobMesh geometry and now you can simply paint to create this object.  Because it is a blobmesh, if you create vertices that are close together, the blobmesh will form one object...very similar in appearance to snow.

Now you can go to town and add as many verts as you want.  It may help by turning on snapping and choosing snap to faces to add verts onto objects other than the Z,0 plane.

One thing to note, is you don't want to move your editable poly as this will move the blobmesh object as well.  You can either lock the position of the editable poly, or you can freeze it.

Happy Painting & Merry Christmas!


Space Mouse Wireless

So it's been awhile since my last post, but wanted to get this review out before the madness of AU next week.  I've been testing the new 3DConnexion SpaceNavigator Wireless and have to say its a great little tool.
There are a few new features that make it worth looking into.  Firstly, it's wireless which makes it great for presentations with a laptop or for crowded desk space.  It has a built in lithium battery that charges through a USB cable that can be unplugged after charging.  I found that it takes roughly 2 hours to fully charge.  But I also found that a single charge can literally last for weeks without having to turn the device off, and with daily use....I was quite impressed with that.
Secondly, the base itself seems heavier than before which makes it easier to navigate without having the base slide around while spinning around.  Also, with the new driver the mouse seems to be more sensitive while navigating which makes it easier to move around in less time.
I found it works great in 3dsmax and SketchUp.  There is an interesting pop up in SketchUp when navigating in orthogonal mode, but simply converts back to perspective mode.
If you don't have a 3d mouse, this is definitely the one to get.  If you'd like to learn more, check out 3dconnexions webpage on it.


Simple way to speed up viewport speed

Ok, this is a stupid simple "trick" to quickly enhance your viewport speed.  If you have a scene with a ton of stuff in it and are trying to just quickly move objects around, if you're selecting an object and waiting for a second before you can move it around, chances are you might have the modify tab selected.

If you switch to the create tab, I can guarantee you your viewport will be more responsive.

Happy translating!


V-ray for SketchUp

Here is the latest batch of renderings we produced at Tiltpixel.  These were all modelled in SketchUp and even rendered in SketchUp using Chaos Groups V-ray for SketchUp plugin.

We were quite impressed with how much we could push v-ray inside SU.  It's the same old rendering engine, and even supports proxies and vray-RT.  For objects that were high poly, we relied on using .vrmesh files. It has everything else in it from render elements and vray 2 sided material to distributed rendering.


Break up those panel reflections!

I'm going to share a tip on shaking up those reflections among panels.  I can't take credit for this, as the talented Pierre-Felix Breton brought this to my attention last year at AU.  I don't know how often I've seen this but often.

If you want to create a distorted reflection, then you add a noise map to the bump parameter.  Fine.  Unfortunately in 3d this map gets distributed evenly among all objects, making all the panels act/look like one single panel.

In real life however each panel has its own unique distortions and should look like this (I exaggerated the effect for emphasis):

Achieving this effect in 3dsmax is really easier than you think.  All you need to do is select a few panels, and apply a UVW Xform modifier to them.  In this example I selected every other panel.  The only parameter I adjusted was the "U Offset" amount (set to 1').  This simply shifts the previously applied maps to this modifers settings.

But there is a trick to getting this to work correctly with procedural maps such as the noise map.  Be sure in your noise map you change the Coordinates Source from Object XYZ to Explicit Map Channel, otherwise the UVW Xform doesn't know what to do with those procedural maps.