Share your 3dsmax Secrets


i noticed they have a thread like this in the maya section, so i figured it wouldnt hurt to have one like it here:love:

post all those nifty tricks and tips that people might normally miss in this software here to share


hmm, i don’t know what to saj :smiley:

oh yea:

  1. Massive use of Target Weld (helped me a lot)
  2. Use array when you must copy multible objects


Select a spinner and press ctrl+n and you get a calculator:)

Use an edit mesh modifier below Skin to hide and move bits of the mesh out fo the way temporaraly to make Skinning easier.

When you don’t know how a tool works, read the manual first!


Can you explain? I don’t know what you mean.

-Right clicking on the undo icon will bring up a list of the commands that you performed.


Also put a editable mesh modifier ontop of your stack to increase viewport speed, helps alot when dealing with large scenes.



Or make sure that the bottom of the stack is a mesh. If you have meshsmooth in the stack turn it off in view ports. And you should use a mesh select or turn to mesh as it will not increase the file size as much.


Making a reference of a low poly object to putting mesh smooth on it. Makes looking at the lowpoly mesh and editing it a bit easier in my opinion.

And although its really basic, the keyboard and mouse shortcuts.
QWER, middle click and drag, alt-middle click and drag


Right click on spinners to zero them. Handy for lining up a load of verts if you haven’t got the ‘vertex placer’ script installed, or making sure objects are in the centre of the world. Don’t know how well known that is, but I keep forgetting it. Vertex placer can be found here-

If you’re trying to use metric units, don’t just change the setting in the ‘unit setup’ box, also set it in the ‘system unit setup’ sub menu, or it’ll think 1 unit=1inch still.

Always check the snap settings when swapping between viewports. I’m ALWAYS forgetting to swap between 2.5d in planar views and 3d in perspecitve or user views. (although I’d rather the settings were per viewport, what’s the point of a 3D snap in a 2D viewport).

Use the Renamer utility if you’ve got a lot of objects to rename. It’s got lots of handy options for incremental naming etc.

There’s a Swami Lama script for converting copied objects into instances called ‘instance-o-matic’.

Check out Chugnuts Unwraptools for a bunch of handy tools for um uvmapping. The ones for aligning a load of uvs are great as are the ones for evenly spacing them.

Lots of others that I can’t think of now.


heh, just use Target Weld often

  • Enable Autobackup feature on 3dsmax, a real life saver!

  • Use multiple Edit mesh modifiers and add one when you finish a part of the model…that way you can correct Model problems

  • When saving as… a file pressing the + sign will add a number increment next to it ( e.g normal.max will be normal01.max ) . I use that when i work with edit poly ( max 7.0 will feature an edit poly Modifier!at last )

  • keep a personal material library or better, divide your libraries like : my_metals , my_hair etc. that way you can reuse old stuff and you can deliver quickly ( more valid for proc.shaders though ).


There is also an auto-increment on save feature (I always use it).

Use “i” to recenter the view when creating splines.

You can also extrude a polygon along a spline which is great for complex extrusions.

Need to create morphs for your character? Check out FFDs.


There is a incremental save script over at Scriptspot. It keeps the orignal filename and stores the old copy with a incremental name in a subfolder. Particulary good if your dealing with XRef’ing


[great thread!]

-get a 5 button mouse, get 2 monitors

-create a maxstart.max file in your /scene folder that loads with max. you can save settings, and even start objects that are ready to go for you to model [like a box with edit poly on it, ready to extrude]

-do some research on your video card and learn the best settings for it. you’ll see a big difference when its optimized.

-use the shortcut key to set animation keys. you can animate much faster when your not moving the mouse out of the viewport, clicking, and going back.

[sidenote : does anyone know how to turn off “show rebuild cursor.” it always turn back on no matter what i do…]


-file/archive : to backup your scene with texture
-use HSV color instead of the regauler RGB
-DISABLE autobackup feature , sometimes when working with a heavy scene it may slow down max (( so manually save as much as you can ))


Just to follow up what decembermoon said-

Always remember to turn autoback on again. I used to do that for heavy scenes and it was painful to forget it was off when the first crash happened.


not if you get with habit of saving regaluerly . anyway use the way the looks SAFER to you. :thumbsup:


Customize that Gooey! Sound obvious but I’m betting most people do not tap the power of the strokes utility or put often used commands up in the quad menu, heck you can even make the quad menu transparent and tweak shorcuts per specific phases of a project. Got you own toolbar yet?

Latest trick? Render RPF format - 3D post is a great time saver and with AfterEffects 6.5 I’m finding I can sweeten focus, atmosphere, and color work very quickly - not to mention to other possibilities…



use an x form modifier if you want to see how your soft selection settings work out


-Right clicking on the undo icon will bring up a list of the commands that you performed.
Great! I din’t know that one! Like a Photoshop History. Great.

  • keep a personal material library or better, divide your libraries like : my_metals , my_hair etc. that way you can reuse old stuff and you can deliver quickly ( more valid for proc.shaders though ).
    Absolutely true. I did it on a rainy day, and it has been a real time saver for future projects.

I don’t have that much tips myself, i always press “g” in viewport to get rid of the grid. (It annoys the hell out of me, not really a tip just a personal preference)
With standard primitives i always enable edge in creation method, when using snap.


my trick for poly-modeling:

  1. start with a spline shape, and then put a surface modifier on it.
  2. collapse to editiable patch
  3. put divisions down to zero for both renderable and visible.
  4. work with the patch as if it were a poly.

you can rough out your shapes adhering to strict quads (always a pain for me in poly mode). When you need to refine your edgeloops, you can just select an edge and ‘subdivide/propogate’.

once you are needing more refined detail, collapse to a poly and go from there. it will save a ton of time instead of cutting around your topology for refining, and will keep poles/tris/etc at a minimum.

everything ends up much cleaner than just attacking a cube :slight_smile: