Cool things in XSI no one knows!



I decided to start a thread to help newcomers and veterans alike to share tips and tricks you find useful in XSI. there are so many things that make you go WOW when you find out about them in this software and not all of them well documented. So to start off i’ll list a couple i know , all of them thanks to The_Jaco :slight_smile:

  1. welding points in move point mode: Hold down ALT while in move points mode (M) to weld points while moving them

  2. Select a numerical input (ie: translate Y) hold down left mouse button and rotate mouse clockwise to increase and counterclockwise to decrease the value.

  3. This one is incredibly cool for animators:

  • Define a Custom property set and name it “DisplayInfo” add some properties to it.

-Turn on show custom “DisplayInfo” parameters option under viewport eye icon > visibility options > stats

  • now you can view those options on the viewport and change them interactively with the F4 virtual manipulator.

very very very useful when animating .

Share your cool finds here in this thread!



Just a couple quick ones.

  1. “]” is the split edge command, and “” is the add edge command, rather than remember both shortcuts just use the add edge command and don’t specify a second point, it’ll do the same as the split edge function.

  2. Holding down the CTRL key briefly toggles on the Snap command.

  3. Coming from LW where we only have basic splines, if I wanted a sharp corner on a cubic curve in XSI I was placing a number of points close togeter, and playing around to get rid of the inevitable little bobble in the curve. A better way in XSI is to pick one of the knots and then Modify-Curve-Insert Knot. This wont actually add another knot (which makes it’s name a little curious), but it will add a point exactly on the curve where the not is, and if you set the Multiplicity to 3, it will place an extra point either side of the newly created point on the curve which will act as bezier handles which will allow you to better alter the curve, including sharp and acute corners.


To expand on this… turn on ‘enable on-screen editing of custom “Display Info” Parameters’ in the Display portion of you preferences and you can now change and key directly in the viewport with none of that F4 nonsense :smiley:

Truely a beautiful thing…


Just to expand on Sheep Factory’s #2- click in any of the Transform value boxes and move the mouse up/down/left or right. It will change the values in that box even overriding another function that might actually be selected. So you could have Translate active but click in a rotation value box to make a quick rotation change while still leaving Translate active. I’m just absolutely loving Foundation as compared to LW and MAYA 5 that I’ve been using(or used in LW’s case :-)).


Yup, and right below the ‘custom display info’ checkbox in the visibilty/stats ppg, thre’s a nice built-in one for SRT Parameters called, ‘show local transform SRT parameters’.


Here’s a few I’ve collected (some obvious, some not, all very useful for me):

  1. Use F3 to popup object properties context window

  2. Property pages recall/navigation – very handy! Use the arrows at the top, right-click an arrow for a list of recent pages, and page-up, page-down to recall recently used property pages that have been closed.

  3. Camera movement undo/redo – Alt-z, alt-y

  4. MMB on view type menu (shaded/wireframe etc) and Camera (Camera, Top, etc) to switch back and forth between recent views.

  5. Render region (q) – MMB to show/hide region, RMB to refresh

  6. Try the Softimage 3D selection model. You might like it better. I do!

  7. Loop/Range component selection – This is super! Ctrl-click to select a loop (one for an edge, two for polys or points). Alt-click two components (start and end) to select a range. This is how it works with Softimage 3D selection model. I think the XSI selection model works a bit differently.

  8. Shrink those property pages! Double-click the title bar. I’ve just started using this a lot. Saves space with a single monitor.

  9. Displaying Hulls and Wireframes – Ctrl + (Pad +) to toggle the hull in a sub-d object. Can be used to Move Points on the hull instead of on sub-d. Alt + (Pad +) to toggle the display of the sub-d wireframe.

  10. Visibility Options – Shift+s for one view (view under mouse), Ctrl+shift+s for ALL views.

  11. Freezing partial ops, disabling ops, saving texture supports, etc. – RMB->“disable from here” on an operator to disable from that operetor UP (then re-Enable later). RMB->Freeze to freeze from that operator DOWN. Select a bunch of movecomponent operators, then edit->operator->collapse to put them all into one operator “OffsetComponents.” Select only the ops you want to freeze before freezing to save your texture support.

  12. Implicit textures are distortion-free (none of that little twist on top you get like with an explicit spherical texture). They calculate and project textures on a per-pixel basis for very smooth, refined results.

  13. FXTree coolness – modify any texture used in your scene with all of the FXTree’s power by using ClipFrom/ClipTo. This will change the texture before it is used in the render tree, allowing for all kinds of crazy stuff, including animated textures in whatever way you can think of.

  14. Symmetry mapping templates for envelope weighting – you gotta use these!


damn, sheep already gave away some of the most interesting I had :wink:

one thing for the render region:
MMB to toggle it on and off is all good and cool, but only works if you actually have the region tool active, and that’s very often not the case if you are smart enough to turn off auto-refresh.

shift+q though will always work to toggle it on and off and doesn’t require any particular tool or mode to be active.

it’s also good to get in the habit to use the shortcut rather then the MMB because sometimes you THINK you still have the region tool active, but you don’t, you middle click and do something and the region starts refreshing.


Good point Jaco, I use shift-q mostly, but sometimes I just need to use that MMB.

A few more:

  1. Drag n drop all over the dang place. Drag things (like textures) from Windows explorer into XSI and onto objects, drag things all over everywhere! Sound files, materials, presets… There is much here to drag.

  2. Those color squares are packed with goodness. (And you can drag them too!) Click on a color square, then click on the little arrow at the right for multiple color tools, also don’t miss the … button at the bottom for even more color excitement!

  3. Ctrl-click color sliders to move them all together at the same position.

  4. See the “Paths” button to the right of the path field in the XSI browser? Instant access to XSI paths and your projects.

  1. Models are your friend, especially when building complex scenes or objects. If you use external reference models you can use Model-Modify-Model-Set Resolution to quickly swap between low and high resolution versions to speed up your scene. It also keeps dependencies / hirachies with other models/objects intact.

  2. A quick gotcha. If you are lighting your scene with just image based final gathering or just iluminated panels, you still need a light in the scene to have final gathering work. The light can have it’s Diffuse/Specular switches set to off, or it’s intensity turned down to zero, but “a” light needs to be present.

  3. Some of the deformers like taper and twist work on a graph and curve system of influence (nice), but the default is for just about a 10% range in the centre of an abject to be effected. Instead of zooming/panning and dragging keys to have the effect cover the whole object. just right click anywhere in the graph area and pick any of the 0-1 presets, then press “a” to zoom all. If nothing else it gives you a good quick starting point.


If your coming from LW and miss the Bandsaw fuction that let you make multiple edge loop cuts and adjust their spacing (dynamically for Bandsaw Pro), fear not, XSI can do the same.

Use the Spit Edge tool (]) with the middle mouse button multiple time where you want the edge loop cuts. Then if you want to alter the spacing locate the object in the Explorer, scroll down to where the SplitEdge Op’s are listed, clicking one will open the property box giving you access to the Ratio Edge slider to make adjustments, then without closing the property box you can click on any of the other SplitEdge Op’s to move to them. Lovely real time feedback in the viewports as well :thumbsup:


[size=2]<Texturing:> [/size]How to auto refresh textures in xsi 4?

preferences>rendering>reload externally modified image clips on focus

<Modeling:> how can I prevent move points ‘m’ from moving points that are not visible in a textured or hidden line view?

preferences>tools>selection>raycast in shaded mode(affects move point).


To edit the parameters of multiple passes at the same time first go to Render->Options to bring up the PPG for the rendering options, now in the explorer (Hotkey 8) press “p” to go to the passes section (Hotkey “a” prior to v4) and simply select the passes you want to edit. The rendering options PPG will automatically update as you select different passes. Note that you can also edit other types of values for mutiple objects this way.


Use F9 to select individual parts of a mesh (polygons, points, curves, ect). Coming from Lightwave this is a must use selection method.


Does anyone know where I can get some tutorials for xsi online I would really like some good tutorials but can’t find any the ones on the web are sometimes outdated and aren’t extensive enough. thaanks


Even more:

Press one of the following keys:

[li]F7 for the Rectangle selection tool.[/li][li]F8 for the Lasso selection tool.[/li][li]F9 for the Freeform selection tool.[/li][li]F10 for the Raycast selection tool.[/li][li]Shift+F10 for the Rectangle-Raycast tool.[/li][li]F11 for the Paint selection tool (points, edges, and polygons only).[/li][/ul]

The selection tools are absolutely awsome! RTM to believe it :eek:


Add in edge ring, edge loop, grow selection, shrink selection (Through RT-Tools), and adjacent switching (verticies<->edges, edges<->polys, poly<->vertices), and you have some major league selection tools.


Just found it from ThE_JacO again:

<Lightning>Select spot interest: ever searched for a spot interest in a large scene with full of nulls? This function is for you.

what’s so hard with, when you have the spot selected, hitting alt+rightarrow to select the interest (traverse hierarchy)?


It took me a while to find this one.

Q- Want to time how long a render took without having to sit in front of your monitor with a stopwatch ?

A- Go to Render Options -> Logged Messages and switch it to Progress Reports, then when the render finishes open up the script editor and you will see a shed load of information about your render, including how long it took.

I suspect that it will add a small amount to the render time, so just use it when you need it.


Hidden Gems of Animation
Features that deserve more attention


Tips contributed by Damijan Saccio
Principal of UVPHACTORY, NYC

Dice Polygons

This is a relatively minor tool, but for some reason we keep needing it and we needed it especially badly the day we received the first beta of version 4, so it really saved our *ss that day!

What it is
Dice Polygons is essentially a way of subdividing a polygon in a regularized way that used to be the default means for subdividing in Softimage|3D

When and how it’s used
select poly, click modify->dice polys and you have all the options you could possibly desire: you choose which axes you want, the number of slices in each direction, etc. You can even have it divide up the object equally in equal-sided grid divisions of any size you choose.

Why it’s important
This tool is important for many reasons. Often, to aid an animation or deformation you need to divide an object in a regularized way that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the ways in which the existing polygons are placed.

Beveling improvements
XSI’s beveling tools have gone from good to great. One of our biggest requests (which is not something you notice as a big change in XSI) was implemented in version 4. Simply put, you can now bevel in instead of only being able to bevel out. A perfect real-world example of why this is so important is with logos. We do a lot of broadcast design, so we work with a lot of logos. Often you need a logo in 3D and you want to put a small bevel on the extrusion. It is imperative, however, to preserve the original outline of the logo and not distort it. Formerly, if you added a bevel, it would do so outside the original boundaries, providing you with something that was not the exact logo anymore. This is unacceptable for a logo that has to represent a known brand. Fortunately the new version of XSI addresses this and adds a number of other bells and whistles, like improved rounding options that really make life for 3d artist much better. All these features are part of the: Create->Poly Mesh->Curve To Mesh tool. This ‘beveling in’ ability is absolutely key to anyone who ever has to deal with exact outlines, such as logos and type in general.

Cool new features that don’t often get mentioned:

Partition improvements: XSI version 4 has made a number of small, but incredibly helpful additions and fixes to the partitions in your render passes. Now, a partition’s visibility will override animations on individual objects in the partition. This is one of those features that seems very minor, but can immensely help your work flow in a project. Another great change is that when you add an override to partition in a pass, XSI is smarter about it and asks you if you want to add a shader connection or use the override as a parameter. Before, using the override as a parameter involved writing a bit of code in the scripting window and was very hard to undo. The workflow now is much improved and much better for an artist who doesn’t want to have to deal with the scripting window.

Selection tool improvements: XSI has done a great job introducing context sensitive menus. Version 4 adds to this by including smart selecting, accessed by holding the alt key when making polygon, edge, and point selections. Using combinations of the alt key and mouse buttons, you can intelligently select ranges of polygons, edges, and point as well as full selection loops by only clicking two places. It’s small things like this that really speed up overall production time.

  • In raycast mode you can hold the Alt+MMB then click on the adjacent polygon and it will do a loop selection

-You can see the entire list of XSI commands which can be added to your custom layouts/toolbars by opening the scene explorer and hitting the C key.

-Knife Tool -You can animate your slice by combining the “Create Grid And Connect option”
and Delete polys above/below then animating the offset.

-xsibatch -r -h or ray3 -h in a Softimage Shell will give you all the options that can be used with those commands.

-Port numbers are located in /System32/Drivers/etc/Services or /etc/Services on Linux this are used for populating your .rayhostfile for distributed or tilebased rendering.

-Ctrl+TAB will cycle through the windows that you have minimized i.e Script editor, floating mixer, etc

-Ghosting can be used on just about anything with a visibility property, including RBD’s Softbodies,etc

-CDK-To Adjust the stiffness of a newly created tail, Branch select the the tail then hide and unhide it. Select first effector out of the root and open its kine global you’ll get an overall stiffness controller.


-To have XSI obey your windows manager enter the following in the .xsi_4.0 file
setenv MWWM allwm

-If you install OpenQuicktime you can output your previews to Quicktime

-To set VI or Mozilla to be the default apps for editiing and help you can enable them in the .xsi_4.0 file (they are currently rem’d out)

-rm -rf ~/Softimage/registry* will clear your user profile (equivilant to c:\users\Softimage)

-If XSI freezes you can kill the process by typing killall -9 XSI in a shell