Advice for learning 3DS Max?

Hi all. Even though I’ve been leaning towards Autodesk Softimage (coughXSIcough) as my commercial package of choice, I want to start learning 3DS Max so I can have a fighting chance at working for my favorite studio, who require proficiency in Max.

So, I’m wondering what advice other users have for transitioning from Blender to Max. I’m sure plenty of users here have already “industry-standarized” themselves for similar reasons. Have any helpful experiences to share?

You should ask Endi - I hear it´s his 3d application of choice;-)

More seriously,
you cannot go past the Inbuilt Max help docs & tutorials to get up to speed quickly

I’m using a mixture of blender/ max at my current studio, it’s basically 99% blender, 1% max, the main thing about max is how the interface works, all of the tools/ modifiers/ modes (vertex paint, modeling) are listed on the right hand side in the command panel, all of the manipulators, snapping functions, layer menus/ material menus are located along the bar at the top.

In blender you switch between edit/ object mode by pressing tab, in max you have to either double click the “Edit polygon/ mesh/ **” modifer or the vertec, edge, face or entity icon (little red icons) to enter that mode, then it’s just a case of using the modeling tools to model.

Personally the sooner AD go under and max becomes obsolete the better, by all means, learn it if it’s what you need to do, but keeping blender as your profressional application, and using max to export… or dare i say rig/ animate for use in studio work.

Personally the sooner AD go under and max becomes obsolete the better
If nothing else, the interface is already obsolete, whether the fanboys like it or not. :rolleyes: But yeah, I’m thinking that even if I get to work at a big studio, I’ll probably be doing any work I can in blender and importing it to 3DS. The result is the same, so I doubt anyone will mind. I still mean to learn Max inside out though, just for job-getting advantages.

More seriously,
you cannot go past the Inbuilt Max help docs & tutorials to get up to speed quickl
Ok, cool. :slight_smile:

Turns out I might have to learn how to get the program running first, though (no surprise)… I just downloaded the free trial, installed everything successfully, and it doesn’t get past the start-up banner. It’s perpetually “Starting 3DS Max…” :mad:

Maybe I need to reboot.

Edit: Yeah, that fixed it. (sighs with relief)

A few tips:

  • Save often - 3dsmax can crash unexpectedly and too frequently for my liking
  • Have multiple copies of your save file - the program can corrupt its own files with no apparent reason
  • Have patience :wink:

Arrrrgh, patience is right. A modifier just to edit the mesh??! Whyyyyy? :frowning:

Oh, and I managed to crash it by closing that pop-up window with the tutorials. And now it’s not starting again, it seems…

Also don’t do this;

Click the transform gizmo,

Go into edit mode (modeling mode),

Hit shift and then control.

Max will crash instantly and not save your work.

Also another thing, watch out for importer/ exporter issues, max’s uses metres/inches and has a habit of reseting itself, causing issues when exporting to blender (it rounds up the mesh data, which means you end up with some wierd things going on). Also Obj from max supports UV maps, objs from blender don’t.

Best format to use is either FBX or collada, collada having the best support in blender.

I’ve gone from max to blender(initially only reason was money for personal projects. Today, there are more reasons). Did many games with max (as part of team or alone). Is just another tool. Not as bad as some say, not as good as some others say. As simple as that. And with a few -very- advanced features. Another version of the story, is simply the result of not have gone in depth/job with it. That’s it.

One word of advice (you can ask here, but better in off topic. I don’t know ANY package all way round, I only learn what a project requires each time, but know several tricks with max, but better if open a thread in off topic, or dunno where…People here don’t like this tool…) is… have a deep look to config custom keys (for everything.just carry with you the txt(kbd or sth) file if yor studio has people swicthing from one computer to another, like I found some times). You can access a huge load of Max funcionality and commands with configurable keys (this is there since years and years). As well, you can build your own right click configurable menus.(both things make of max a way much less “leveled ui experience”, but more of an interface-less experience, which I enjoy of Blender and Wings)
Oh, and can render with directx, opengl, other options, with the -h parameter after the exe. (pops a dialog)

There are looooots of tricks/issues to know, like with ANY package…Which one learns to save the neck in the everyday stuff.
IE, a bunch with biped. There are advantage on that stack of modifers, but also big risks.

lastly, a great source for deep, pro , never documented tricks, nor in manuals, is cg society, max section,(at least it was in “Cg Talk” times…dunno now…) and the search function there :wink: (you might need google with site: option for extar info there…)

euh… ehm… You mean blender does not support uvs in OBJ export?

it has always done. I don’t understand what you mean. Maybe you meant smooth groups?

Edit: silly thing, but forgot, and find yet ppl using the arc rotate… you can just alt+mmb to rotate in viewport, keep “center of rotation” the ‘selected part or object’, is an icon, bottom right corner.
And of course, configure keys to manually rotate like with numpad in blender.

There are tooons of tips that can be given.Just not tons of time…but maybe if get stuck, that may happen soon, can ask in off topic…no? or here. I never kno what’s the propper thing…well…

I haven’t used max in years as I never really liked it since it moved from DOS…


I know many pros that use max as their weapon of choice, are super quick and produce very high quality work with it. a thorough knowledge of software, it’s idiosyncrasies and the right workarounds are what count in the pro market… and ALL software has issues here and there…

PS. I too don’t know what the UV comment with OBJ is all about. I use OBJ all the time to .transfer data without issue

Hmm wierd, first few days at my new job i couldn’t get the UV’s to export… Maybe i was doing something wrong, but i had them working with the collada exporter straight away.

Also, yes, max does some have handy little features, but like alot of my wok colleagues/ friends say, it has some advanced features (some of which don’t work) and the more basic of tools simply don’t offer the speed that other apps use, also the selection tool is dreadful.

Some people love max, other’s don’t. I’m one of the one’s who don’t.

me neither, but it’s just tools and personal prefs…

I know what you mean about OBJ though… I’m just doing a contract and working on windows blender… one day obj imports fine and auto assigns the alpha in the textures and sets the texture face properties right… the next day? not working right!

Thanks for the warnings, Daniel8488. I’ve had to learn of far too many similar deathtraps through experience. Never. Fun. :wink:

Michael W:
True. The way I look at these Autodesk apps is that there’s a potential powerhouse behind a large impenetrable wall known as The Interface. :stuck_out_tongue:

Sweet! I knew you could customize the keys, but not right-click menus. That will definitely help me bend The Interface to my will. :smiley:

Gnomon workshops,

Depending on how bright you are, Gnomon videos and books may just cut it.