By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationGamesGeneral

The following is an excerpt from Ted Boardman’s Getting Started in 3D with 3ds Max: Model, Texture, Rig, Animate, and Render in 3ds Max. Ted Boardman teaches you how to think about the holistic process of 3D design so that you can then apply the lessons to your own needs. In this tutorial, Ted shows you how to create shapes in 3Ds Max.

The process of creating 2D shapes is very similar to the process to create 3D objects (demonstrated in the book), but let’s have a look at the menu structure and some of the options.

Exercise 2-2-2 Creating Shapes

1. Let’s begin by creating a completely new scene that replaces the current scene of 3D objects. Click the Application button and choose Reset in the menu. If you hover your cursor over the command, a description of the command will appear and a tip on how to access the 3ds Max Help is included (see Figure 2-9 ).

Fig 2-9 The Reset command clears everything from the current scene and starts a new scene.

2. A dialog appears warning that this scene has been modified and asks if you want to save your changes. Click the No button (see Figure 2-10 ). This scene is only for testing the creation of objects and there’s no reason to save it.

Fig 2-10 The Reset command warns that you have unsaved changes in the current scene.

3. Another dialog appears asking whether you are sure you want to reset the scene (see Figure 2-11 ). Click the Yes button. The reset command discards everything in your current scene, so 3ds Max wants to make sure that you really want to reset. Once the scene has returned to its default state, right-click in each of the orthographic viewports (top, front, and left), then press the keyboard shortcut G in each viewport to disable the grid. This will make it easier to see the random shapes you will be creating.

Fig 2-11 The Reset command clears everything from the current scene and starts a new scene.

4. Right-click in the Top viewport to activate it. In the Create panel, click the Shapes category button (second row, second from left) to show the Object Type rollout containing the possible shapes that can be created (see Figure 2-12 ).

Fig 2-12 There are 12 2D shapes available in 3ds Max.

5. In the Object Type rollout, click the Rectangle button. In the Top viewport, somewhere near the center of the viewport, click and drag from upper left to lower right to define a rectangle much in the same way you created the Plane primitive in the previous exercise (see Figure 2-13 ). This is a 2D shape that has a name and a randomly chosen color, but has no surfaces, so it will not show up as a shaded object in the Perspective viewport or in a rendered image. It is a construction object that can be modified into a 3D object or used as an animation path.

6. Let’s create a simple straight line that requires just a click of the mouse at each endpoint of the line. At this point, do not click while dragging the mouse, because doing so will create curvature that will be explained later in this book. Click the Line button in the Object Type rollout, click in the Top viewport (quickly and release left mouse button), and then move the mouse to where you want the end of the line to be and click quickly again. Right-click to end the line creation sequence (see Figure 2-14 ). If you don’t succeed at first, try again until you can create a straight line with no curvature.

Fig 2-13 Create a Rectangle shape by clicking and dragging to define its diagonal corners

Fig 2-14 To create a straight line, you need to click and release with no dragging and then right-click to end the line command.

7. You should be comfortable enough with creating objects in 3ds Max now to try a few of the other types of shapes in the Top viewport. Concentrate on the sequences of clicking and dragging with the mouse until it begins to feel natural to you.


The Text, Helix, and Section shapes are specialized types of shapes. You can try creating Text and Helix (like creating a 3D cone) in this exercise, but it would not be possible to create a Section shape at this point.

Excerpt from Getting Started in 3D with 3ds Max: Model, Texture, Rig, Animate, and Render in 3ds Max by Ted Boardman  © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved. Getting Started in 3D with 3ds Max: Model, Texture, Rig, Animate, and Render in 3ds Max can be purchased Amazon.com, BN.com, and wherever fine books can be found.

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