Tutorials 3D Graphics Tutorials Exterior Scenes in 3d Max

Exterior Scenes in 3d Max

graffititools Tutorials Aug 05, 2010

Developing an understanding of the subject and discovering how to best portray its character is a crucial step in composing your image. Is the subject contemporary, modern, classic, historic, minimal, and so on? Depending on the design of the structure, different sensibilities may apply. And while we don't have the capability to put down our cameras and walk around the space, we do have an extraordinary freedom to place any number of cameras in our virtual space. Additionally, the new Walk Through Camera is a useful tool for taking a quick, informal virtual walk around the model to discover potential views and photogenic elements.

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Using the Walkthrough Camera is a great way to "discover" the virtual space.

Below are the shortcuts for using the Walkthrough Camera.

(Note: the Level Command is very useful, especially for straightening verticals.)

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It is also useful to set up a quick Sunlight System to light the scene in a quick but realistic way, even if the materials are simple colors and shades. The interaction of the light with the scene is an important aspect of the composition. Sometimes the patterns and dynamic lines created by light and shadow can be more interesting than the structure itself.

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Keeping in mind our Rule of Thirds and Diagonal Rule from our earlier tutorial, we see that the same notions apply with exteriors.

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Rule of Thirds

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Diagonal Rule

Experimenting with various camera lenses and aspect ratios can also create engaging compositions.

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Exaggerated Aerial

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Dutch Angle (Rotated Horizon)

Modeling (ACAD/Revit/SketchUp Into Max)

1. Introduction

There are many different ways of importing files to 3DS Max. Many people have their own methods, but you'll find the best process we've used via AutoCAD, Revit, and SketchUp.


a. Method A
Basically, this method is about how to clean the CAD files before you import into 3DS Max so that you can use this CAD file as reference and modeling in 3DS Max

- Clean up CAD files that you don't need such as electrical installations, structural elements, notes, specifications, etc.

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- There should be no "XREF" file present. If so, you need to insert or bind or you can try the "include XREF" option but we prefer binding XREFs and cleaning this XREF file as well.

- Sometimes there are blocks in the CAD files. You can either "explode" them or you can turn on "Convert blocks to groups" option when you import into Max.

- Make separate lines for each shape. Max will import your file as separate lines and then organize your layers by the same components (we normally make layers by materials) such as walls, floor, ceiling, trim, wood, stone, fabric etc.

- When importing files into Max, we usually use "Legacy AutoCAD" or "AutoCAD Drawing". It depends on how you are going to use them.

- Let's do "Legacy AutoCAD" for this example. There is "Combine Objects by Layer." That is why you need to use layers in AutoCAD, so that Max imports the object by layers as well.
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- Freeze the imported CAD and trace the line that you are going to create.

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- Now you can apply "Extrude" modifier into this line to create walls, etc.

b. Method B

This method is more about interactivity between CAD files and Max. In other words, if you change something in the CAD, Max will instantly update based on the CAD file. In order for this concept to work, there are certain things that you need to consider and understand about the concept. The most important thing would be "polyline."

- Polyline must be closed. In most CAD drawings, polylines are not closed or are single lines drawn on top of each other. So you need to redraw clean, closed polylines by layers.

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- In Polyline options, there is "Thickness." Not only will you be able to create a simple 3D geometric shape, but also it will instantly update in 3DS Max.

- The "thickness" is basically how much you can extrude so if you type 10'-0" then it will extrude from polyline and create a 3D form.

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- Now organize the layers by components and you're ready to import it into 3DS Max.

- In Max, go to "File" and select "File Link Manager."

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- In "File Link Manager" you will be able to customize, preset and link the file.

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- As you see, you will be able to tell the polyline that has "thickness" as it will have the extruded modifier automatically applied.

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- Let's give different thicknesses to certain polylines in CAD, and let's move some of the wall vertexes. Then reload the CAD file in Max.

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- You will notice it instantly update whenever you save changes in the CAD.

3. Revit

This part of the tutorial will explain how to import a Revit model in 3DS Max. It expects little experience with Revit and a solid understanding of 3DS Max.

- Need to be in a 3D view in Revit

- Export it out as AutoCAD DWG format

a. In Revit

FileExportCAD Format

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b. In 3DS Max

File linking - The best way to bring any AutoCAD DWG is File Linking Manager.

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If the original file in Revit has a different unit system, you can check "Rescale" and select inches from the pull-down menu.

There is a preset that is already set up for Revit on the dialog box.

Check "Use scene material assignment on Reload" if you want to bring materials that were assigned in Revit to 3DS Max.

If you want to assign new materials in 3DS Max, you need to keep this box unchecked.

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We have linked the model now in 3DS Max.

The layers and object naming will be saved, so everything is well organized.

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You can go any time to the File Link Manager to reload the file back in 3DS Max. If you have assigned new materials in 3DS Max, the 3DS Max materials will be maintained so we do not lose them.

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The materials that were assigned in Revit will save all their qualities and naming.

All the camera views will be maintained as well.

The file is ready now for lighting and rendering.


Dharaa VShah

I'm a Web-Graphic Designer, Freelance and Webmaster, blogger and more. I like to push the boundaries. I love creating unique, clean, usable design for the web and other digital sources.

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