Share your 3dsmax Secrets


But also you’re posting in the wrong thread, here you are supposed to share your secrets.


Hi there, for anyone who has ever used the arch & design materials, and tried their hardest to make the Anisotropic Poles go along a different axis, this video tutorial will show you the two tricks I’ve employed to fix these issues.

It’s dead simple, and I hope you enjoy and share with your fellow 3ds Max users!

Cheers for watching,


Use this keys to handle heavy scenes in max.

d -
Disable view port (very useful for highly complex scenes)
Shift + c – hide / unhide cameras
Shift + g – hide / unhide geometry
Shift + i – hide / unhide Lights
Shift + s – hide / unhide Shapes
Find more in here :


I would like to share my sync-backup-solution/discussion, se thread here:


i you want to create a perfect circle use this option…select face max.ribbon>polygons>geopoly…
.hope this info will help you. :slight_smile: :slight_smile:


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

3ds Max Marvelous Designer >
Vray 3 :


Hi Guys this is a Trick to fasten the Rendering Speed in 3ds Max Vray. Defaultly Rendering is done by our computers Intel processor ( CPU ) and the computer Graphic card (GPU ) is not in use.
This video shows you how can we use Graphic card to fasten up the rendering speed.


Here is the video to show the tick :


Here’s how I add weight & life to my characters legs! Enjoy! =)


The most hardcore way to lock your Camera is to assign Script Controller on Camera`s Position and Roll Controllers, also on Camera`s Target !

Its no need to write some script - when assign a "Position Script" on cameras “Position XYZ” controller, it captures current position and describe it as [x,y,z] script.


If you model something complex, and want to freely rotate the model, but then easily set it back to the original state without using any modifiers, use “freeze transform” function (alt+right click to acess it). Then model, rotating the model at any angle, and you can reset its position and orientation back by using “transform to zero” command.


I read the whole thread, and here are some excerpts. I think it’s 80% of what’s been mentioned and not outdated.

Select a spinner and press ctrl+n and you get a calculator
Holding down CTL & ALT will speedup and slowdown many things in Max, including adjusting spinner values (as well as camera pan/zoom/track which someone else mentioned). Generally any navigation/manipulation/numerical change with ctrl speeds up, with alt it slows down.

You can get relative values inside the spinner.
you spinner value is: 10
write: r5 then press enter the result is 15
now write: r-10 the result is 5

By typing r followed by your numeric expression ( e.g r23 )
max will only execute the value behind the R as soon as you finish type So it will not execute for the number: 123 the 1 and then 12 and then 123.
Also, note that using ‘r’ will give a relative offset of the current number. So if you have 10 in the numerical field and then you type r8 the end result will be 18. Typing r-8 will give an end result of 2.

You can override the limits of some spinners (like the 0.1 units limit on the width and length of chamfer box and the 65000 duplicates limit on the scatter compound object) by putting animation key on the spinner and put there the value u like. Note that the spinner will still be displaying the wrong limited value

Don’t be afraid to put in minus values for anything just to see what happens.

General initial shortcuts:

Drag you left mouse button(transform/rotate/scale or any other function that require you to do so), while still holding the left mouse button, click on the right mouse button, it will cancel the operation. Its very handy to me.
Right-clicking on the area where the zoom tool, maximize viewport, zoom extents, etc. buttons are will bring up the viewport configuration dialog box.
Right clicking on spinner snap will bring up the preferences.

Shift + c – hide / unhide cameras
Shift + g – hide / unhide geometry
Shift + i – hide / unhide Lights
Shift + s – hide / unhide Shapes

Ctrl+L = activate-deactivate lights in the viewport
Shift+4 = view where light is pointing at ( only when using spots or directionals)

D - disable view port (very useful for highly complex scenes)

Shift+F = show safe frame

Press A for Angle Snap and S for Snap To Grid.
Alt+a = align tool
Alt+n = normal align
Ctrl+v = clone floater
Shift+i = Spacing tool

Press ‘7’ to get a face count of a selected object

Shift+p - particle systems
Shift+h - helpers

For Zooming in your perspective viewport, use ctrl+alt+middle button (and, obviously,move the mouse back and forth). It’s a smoother zoom, with which you can look very close into the object, unlike zooming with the mouse scroller which in 1 or 2 turns will already be showing you the interior of your object.

Spacebar initially locks your selection so that you don’t lose your selection or accidently pick up something else, probably, for moving something around in a complex scene. You can’t access any sub objects in this mode. (personally, I’m still confused why would I use it).

animation shortcuts:
Ctrl,Alt & MB on timeline = Slide timeline

Quad menus:

Press Alt + Right mouse button for useful tools, and switch between pivot modes
Press Ctrl + Right mouse button on an object for some object properties, and create basic primitives
Press Shift + Right mouse button for some snap options

Ever noticed that when using the quad menu the last command you used is marked in blue? If you click the title of that quad menu, it will repeat the blue command.

You can save the current position of any viewport by going to the Views menu and choosing Save Active View, and you can later Restore Active View from the same can only save one position at a time for each type of view, (front, top, orthographic,
The Saved Views are even saved with the maxfile, so you can open up a scene and immediately zoom right back to where you left off modelling.

Click and hold the play button and a popup menu with two options will show up, the first is the default playback, witch will allow you to view the animation of all the objects in the scene and the second will allow you to view the animation of only the selected object. Very handy for large scenes.
Use an edit mesh modifier below Skin to hide and move bits of the mesh out fo the way temporaraly to make Skinning easier.
Need to create morphs for your character? Check out FFDs.
-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.
In the curve editor you can copy and paste controllers using the right click menu - great for duplicating complex list controllers
If you do any animation at all LEARN how to use trackview, it’s incredibly useful.
It’s better to freeze camera with link info constraints.
-If your camera is panning/trucking/etc really slow/fast,-select your camera and uniformly resize it on its Local Coordinate system*it’s because your scene is unduly huge or tiny compared to your cameras

select a modifier (like SKIN, BEND etc) Hold CTRL Now drag the modifer to another object There its copied to the other object as an instance (meaning they’ll copy each other)!! cool eh?
You can also just drag over the modifier to another object to create a copy of the modifier. This saves loads of time when you producing skinned models with envelopes.

A couple of tips about custom attributes (I believe we haven’t seen these on this HUGE and excellent thread…).
Set the numeric values of custom attributes to range from 0 to 1 or -1 to 1 - its easy to adjust the expression/wire controllers driven by the custom attributes just using an appropriate multiplier value.
You can control the same custom attribute with both a slider and a spinner wiring the two using a two-way parameter wiring - some things are easier to control with a slider but you can easily get a zero value right clicking a spinner.
The Min and Max functions are very helpful in an expression controller when two or more custom attributes are controlling the expression value.
Don’t forget the degToRad when controlling rotation with an expression/wire controller (converts degrees to radians).

Instead of using noise on a camera to make it look like its handheld, try using motion capture on your mouse and ‘filming’ the action yourself…

By right click on the time slider you can keyframe your selected objects. A pop-up box allows you to specify a move, rotate, or transform key.

At the bottom of your Max interface just left of the Set Key button is a little box labeled “Add Time Tag”. If you right-click on this box you get a flyout with options to add, edit or goto time tags. This is a very handy way to create shortcuts to important and frequently used frames in your time range.

  • In the trackview, in the key stats section where it tells you what the selected key(s) time and value are, you can type “n” and then a “+”,"-","*" or “/” and then a number in either of those field to relatively add, subtract, multiply or divide by amounts for the time and/or value of the selected keys (eg. to move your selected keys 20 frames later, in the time field of the key stats type n+20)
  • Create hotkeys for setting position, rotate and scale keyframes. In my case, I use alt+w, alt+e and alt+r respectively.
  • setting a hotkey for the viewport quadmenu (in my case “v”) frees a lot of other hotkeys for other uses. Оно и так по умолчанию.
  • To make flat objects you can still deform (eg. leaves), don’t extrude splines with grid turned on in the capping options. Create a plane and then use the spline as a cookie cutter. The grid can still be subdivided however you wish and then solidified with the shell modifier.
  • I like to put a separator between hold and fetch in the edit menu - rather annoying to accidentally hit hold when you really want to fetch.
  • Time tags can be very helpful to organise your animation by adding descriptions to your scene’s timeline. To add one, simply click where it says “add time tag” to the left of the big key button down the bottom.

I use NURBS curves for camera paths rather than editable splines - you get smoother motion and it looks more realistic!

• Use Link constrain to parent an object to another for a desired period of time, for example a character picking a ball from the floor and throwing it to another character who catch it and runs away (edit when and what in the motion panel)
• If you have a hierarchy and want to modify transform of the parent object only, select " Don’t affect children" in the Hierarchy panel

Objects renaming and selection:

Use the Rename utility if you’ve got a lot of objects to rename. (tools - rename objects)

When your selecting, hiding or freezing objects by name, you can press the * button before the name and it will select any objects with that name anywere in it.
You can also stack them to get a more specific name by having multiple *'s. like boltnut… This would only select an object that has both bolt and nut in its name.
for example.
if you type *bolt
it will select objects named:

When you do a ‘pick action’ (something like ‘Get Shape’ within the Loft object) you can use the select-by-name dialog instead of clicking an object in the viewport.

When doing level design, custom grid is your best friend!
If you’re using a lot of references and guides (splines, grids), use layers. For example one layer for your model, one for guides, one for references etc. it easier to turn them all on and off as needed.
Use angle snap (shortcut : a ) to rotate an object precisely.
I use the align tool a lot because its so pretty useful. It aligns almost anything. Geometry, vertices, pivot points, etc. In addition to snap tool its fantastic.
When you are working with complex files (with hell lot of maps and materials) always use Resource Collector Utility (on utility panel) and Collect all the map files in to one common folder…
Learn to use the snap constrainst tool it is an under used and very useful tool constrains the axis that you work in very helpful for moving vertex’s and object in one axis while aligning it with another object.
Another one is if you’ve used bitmaps in your scene that reside all over your computer and network and you want to back it up, you can save a zip file with the max scene and all the maps used by clicking File-Archive-Archive.
• You can open the Asset Browser in one of your view panels and open a tutorial online so you can work on it without minimizing Max! or also open an image you need to see while working.
In the utilities tab, you can customize what buttons u want under “more…” Useful for quick access to polygoncounter, follow\bank, LOD and other stuff.
Spacing tool\ snapshot are really great to duplicate things along a path \ animation.

Ortho and polar cnapping modes (google it to get an idea). First one restrains (certain) operations to 90 degrees increment, and polar works in conjunction with angle snap settings.
They are great and i have no idea why they are hidden by default. Finally, drawing a 45° line, or using quickslice (not in perspective) for perfectly strait cuts.

  • go to customize - customize user interface, toolbars tab
  • search for “ortho snapping mode” and “polar snapping mode”
  • drag them onto a toolbar of your choice.

You can select all the objects, right click on a layer, then click Add Selected Objects.

Using the layer manager and object properties menu it’s possible to get more than one shading type at the same time in the viewport. Like a modelsheet in shade mode and the model in wireframe.
Just go over a layer on layer Manager, and enter on the layer properties. There you will find a Display parameter, where you will choose from a list the display type desired for that group. To see the result in the viewport, make sure that your objects have the display properties (over object properties), set to: “by Layer”


  • 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).
    For mapping try to divide model in materials.
    Use lots of mix maps for complex materials such as old walls (about 6-12 different maps in one material).
    Hold down the left mouse button in the Hue / Blackness panel and move the mouse anywhere - right outside of max.
    If you import a complex procedural material in the scene, and you realize that it is qiute out of scale, use uvw xform to adjust it.

To set the maps being blended between with the Gradient Ramp, right click on the flags that control the color falloff. Under ‘Edit Properties…’ there is a selection for ‘Texture’. This allows you to blend between actual maps from the editor rather than flat colors.
If you use Gradient Ramp with ‘Gradient Type:’ set to ‘Mapped’, you get the same behavior as a ‘Mix Amount’ map.

Someone mentioned making material libraries for commonly used materials, which i allready do (its a good tip!), but you can also pull a material library directly out of an existing Max file using the get material library. in the ‘get material’ material/map browser, select ‘material library-> open’ just like you normaly would to select a saved library. now pull down the ‘file type’ and select .max. you can now pull just the materials out of any saved max file. Very handy for the “i know i used X material in Y project” but without the hassle of having to close your current file to open the Y project and see.

Never knew about the color clipboard… now i feel stupid for not having always used it… great tip!

If you right click on any bitmap (render or viewed file) within MAX you’ll get some info about the pixel under the cursor, BUT more importantly MAX will place a colour swatch in the images toolbar for the selected colour - you can drag/drop this to any other colour swatch in MAX (material editor, say). Makes matching colours from scanned samples a lot easier.
If you have multimaterials with some unused materials in them (a mess), you can use a cleaning utility Clean MultiMaterial. It’s located in utilities - More.

Use “i” to recenter the view when creating splines.
With standard primitives i always enable edge in creation method, when using snap. Also autogrid.
Ctrl+backspace deletes agjacent vertices on edges.
Shift x - constrains subobject movement to edges in edit poly.
You can rightclick the modifiers window for more options.
You can even “rename” the modifiers in your stack, so that you better can navigate them, when you have much of them.
Select your object, go to “Hierarchy->Link Info” and under “Locks” tick the checkmarks for Move, Rotate and Scale. This will lock the object from transformations, but let you edit its modifiers.
This ResetX form has to be done in order to reset the position, rotation, scale of objects so that they are no longer relative to 3dsmax world. Or else your objects will look offseted (position/rotation/scale) in your (other) 3d application.
If you have a number of instances of an object and you want to convert all of them to editable poly, don’t just right click and use the convert to poly. If you do so, only the one selected will be converted. Instead, add add a modifier “turn to poly” then collapse to the turn to poly modifier. This will preserve the instance relationship.
When you model from plans do you map bitmap images to planes for you reference objects? Try tracing those plans in your favorite drawing program (Illustrator, Freehand, Corel etc), export the resulting splines and use them as reference instead. The viewport will be considerably faster and you’ll have a nice smooth curve to line up too instead of a pixilated bitmap and you will still see your reference in wireframe.
When in sub object mode. select vertex, polys or whatever and make them a "named selection set " to create clusters.

When modeling, add a material to the model and set a key on frame 1. Go to frame 10, reduce the material’s opacity to 0, and set another key. Instead of using X-Ray visible or transparent, you now have 10 levels of opacity by scrubbing the time slider.

Holding shift while panning or arc-rotating around an object will constrain it to either vertical or horizontal depending on which way the cursor is moved.
If you hold down ctrl while creating a primitive it will either rotate as you create it (eg. on teapots, spheres, etc.) or create a square version (eg. on planes, boxes, etc.).

If you model an object following refence pictures (e.g. a plan, foto etc) animate the box that holds the reference picture. Let it go through your object from left to right - top to bottom. You get an excellent feeling for the cross sections of your model.

While using paint deformation, hold down ALT to invert the pull/push value, or CTRL to use revert.

To prevent the loss of your modifiers (or even whole stacks) just set up a “stackholder”. For doing so, just copy all your modfiers you will need again in the near future onto a box, or any other primitive. then save. So they remain in the scene, when restarting max.

If you want to change pivot for rotating (or scaling) subObjects (like vertices, edges or polys), 1 turn on 3d Snap (dont forget to set it up by right clicking on the icon so it will snap to vertices) 2 set the coord system to global or view and transfom center to "use selection center". 3 the selection will rotate (or scale) about one of vertices that included in selection (if you selected edges or polys then itll happen around vertex belonging to selected sub). This also works for the entire object.

Maxscript listener:
you can use the maxscript mini listener(in lower left corner of the max interface) as a simple calculator.

To delete ALL cameras and lights, maybe out of stock model scene.
just type in the script mini listener:
delete cameras
delete lights

Typing “max rns” in the listener opens up a selection set editior window far more efficient than the one in the toolbar.

Don’t execute this in the listener.
showclass “.

change the preset render sizes - simply right click on the one you want to change and a dialogue box pops up to let you change them - easy.

Some issues:
if the scale in your scene gets big so that it is slow to pan around in perspective view you can reset the scale to normal by creating a camera, hit “C” to make the perspective view into a camera then delete the camera. The view will then go back to perspective view but with normal scale.
Dont ever give up on a file just because it keeps crashing on you, this doesnt always mean u cant recover it. Open it quite a few times, devote 10 mins or so to doing nothing but opening/closing it. I have recovered quite a few scenes with patience
Gary2 mentioned spending 10 mins trying to open a borked max scene. Try starting a new scene and merging the bad one. you will hopefully be able to import everything and save a new incremental file. If not single out the bad object by trial and error, you will save muchos time.

Suggested(user) hotkeys:
Shortcuts must be assigned not to move your arm too far, otherwise they lose sense.
Assign shortcut for expert mode on a mouse button.

Use “space” button like in Maya to maximize viewport, is really fast, much usefully like default “selection lock” (I never used this function, but space is the biggest button on my keyboard).

ctrl+shift+z for redo
ctrl+2 for freeze selection
ctrl+alt+2 for unfreeze all
ctrl+3 for hide selection
ctrl+alt+3 for unhide all

Shift-Space - Lock Selection Toggle
(got to be able to set selection lock)

F11 - Script Listener
Shift-F11 - New Script
F12 - Maxscript Help
(for when I’m not in a script window where F1 will be of more help)

Alt-Enter - Object Properties
(Windows like behaviour)

Ctrl-Alt-U - Hide Unselected
Ctrl-H - HideSelected
Ctrl-Shift-U - Unhide all
Ctrl-U - Unhide by Name
Since the roller is used for zoom in/out, use ’ [ ’ and ’ ] ’ keys for group closing and opening.
Nurms toggle needs shortcut. It’s very handy when modeling, your smoothed model is just a tumb of distance…

Cameras effect:
You can use skew and ffd-modifiers on cameras. The effect seems similar to simply moving and rotating the camera, but there is a difference:
a) The angle of the manual clipping plane changes in relation to the angle of the camera (might give some interesting effects).
b) With an orthographic camera you can get views you usually wouldn’t be able to get.

If you go to the camera parameters in the modifier menu, you can just check “ortographic view” option under FOV properties and voila! or you can play with the angle and fov values to get the desired view
It’s not possible with orthographic cameras. Normally. It is, however, if you add a modifier to the camera, such as skew. Cameras with orthographic view are not much of a secret. But skewed orthographic cameras lets you do things you normally couldn’t.

Here is a cavaliera in max: just go to front, and use alt+middle mouse button to rotate. It will rotate in user viewport mode. Actually axonometric and all you have to do is rotate into position.


Hey everyone! :slight_smile:
Here’s my latest installment of my new show called Tuesday Talks from my WatchMeAnimate Youtube channel. I talk everything and anything animation related and share really cool tips & tricks (in 3dsmax but can be applied to all softwares). In this episode I cover my Slow-Mo blocking technique to quickly see if you’re poses and animation are heading in the right direction, can be done in any animation software, check it out and hope you enjoy the show! smile

Episode 02 - SLOW-MO Block - Q&A + MORE!!! - Tuesday Talks w/ Jonathan Abenhaim


founder / watchmeanimate


In this tutorial, we use standard polygonal modeling techniques to create a Brunnian style link structure connected by an organic bridge network at the center. Most of the techniques used in this video can translate to other capable 3d modeling applications.



Whenever modifiers behave in a weird way, try Resetting Xform

#755 Script

This litle magical script will save you so much time.
It does following

  1. select the object
  2. run already asigned key
  3. script change your viewport into perspective and place object into the middle of rotate arc with angle view of 70 degrees


[i]macroScript Macro1
max vpt persp user
max tool zoomextents
max rotateview
viewport.SetFOV 70

[/i]I found the script somewhere on CGTalk, and just add FOV 70


Could you please explain a case where this is useful? And why 70?


All my workflow follows this
2d view/ select/ zoom/ rotate/ edit…
so, for me it is useful everywhere and every time.
70 is just because I like it more than default 45, you just get more visible of viewport.




These are some secrets that definitely help!


Not really a secret i guess but setting up cages manually for normal mapping was kind of tedious because i’d miss a bunch of tiny areas, so i came up with this to get a better display:
Assign a standard white material to all your objects, switch your viewport display to “flat” render, now all objects will be displayed as pure white, go to projection modifier and set the cage to “shaded”. The areas that need fixing will hit you right in the face! (or use pure diffuse white mat and skip the flat viewport step ;))