Teaching 3dsmax to a Cinema 4D friend...


Some of my collegues at work are Cinema 4D users, one of them is highly motivated to learn new softwares and decided to try out max, as it’s the main software we use for 3D here, for now at least. I told him a good reason for knowing max is the much wider use in industry, in fact Maya or Max are very important tools for every 3D artist to have at least a little knowledge.

However, he couldn’t stand with max for more than 2 days. It was really funny (sad to be honest), and I wanted to share how it was and why. He did a sequence of a lot of questions that I hardly could give answers without having to use words like “but”, “however” and the like.

-The pain really started opening max. Max 2010 takes so long to open that he thought the computer stopped responding. It takes longer than windows to start, and that’s no joke. Even after opening it once, it’s waaay too slow in 2010. Cinema 4D on the other hand is one of the fastest program to open, only losing for Blender.

-As his main task here is modelling, I explained that he should use Editable Poly for that. Then he asked: “Why there’s an Editable Mesh and Poly?”, so I said:“Back in the day…bla bla bla…Editable Poly is a newer and more advanced way of manipulating geometry in max…”, we all know the story.

-Right after that he asked: “How to subdivide the mesh like HyperNURBS in C4D?”, then I told him: “Well, you have Turbosmooth and Meshsmooth”, then he said: “Why two?”, me: “Well, back in the day…bla bla bla…their ‘optimizations’ on subdivisions is a new modifier that results on a mesh and not on a poly like meshsmooth. Turbosmooth is what you will use the most, BUT it’s buggy and can cause some problems sometimes, then you should use Meshsmooth that is more stable BUT slower.”

-After that he created a cube, converted to poly and applied a Turbosmooth on it. Then he asked: “Is there a way to see isolines in Max?”, me: “Yes, in Turbosmooth turn ‘isolines’ mode on, BUT we can’t model with them, only to see’”, he: “But what’s the use of isolines then???”, me: “Good question…”. He did turned on, the option didn’t work (that never happened to me), so I said to apply a Meshsmooth instead of Turbosmooth, then it worked. He closed max, opened it again, and 1 minute later we continued…

-So we went deeper into poly modelling. I thought he would like since now with polyboost there are lot’s of cool stuff. The very first tool he asked about was Tweak, like in XSI or Maya. Then I told him: “Max doesn’t have a tweak tool like Cinema, but we can ‘fake’ one: Change the selection mode in Editable Poly to Multi, use Alt+RMB and set the coordinate space to screen and press X to turn the move gizmo off.” Even with all those steps, he tried to not create obstacles and found ok. Then I continued: “BUT the preselection highlight doesn’t work with show end result on, so you can’t see symmetry or turbosmooth when using it, but the tool still works, so you will not be sure of what it’s going to move (a vertex, edge or face)”. Then a friend and veteran max user too that was freelancing here said: “Hey, use Edit Poly, it works there.”. The Cinema guy said: “Funny, but if it works that’s fine.”, but I said: “Yeah, BUT Edit Poly is a lot slower then Editable Poly so it may become slow for more complex stuff and by default the shortcuts are completely different from Editable Poly, then it’s best to first match the shortcuts for both Edit and Editable Poly”.

-Trying to find something cool to show him, since up to now his max first impression was pretty bad, I decided to show him the Swift Loop and Loop Tools from Graphite, that I find really great. What a mistake. When he moved the mouse to open the graphite tools for the first time, it took almost the same that Cinema 4D itself to start. It was configured with the 3 main tabs appearing only. He quickly asked: “Does it always take this long to start???”, me: “No, just the first time you open it.”. He then started looking at the tools in there. Finally I showed him Swift Loop: “This is one of the most useful tools IMHO, you cand select, add, remove and slide loops only with this tool. BUT now in max 2010 the slide always slide the entire loop, and not only the selected edges like the old Polyboost.”. He liked quite a lot too anyway, especially because Cinema doesn’t have a slide loop like max (but there is a free plugin for that matter). While still trying to find the best method for viewing the tools, he wanted to try out Swift Loop again, but couldn’t find it. Not even me was able to find it at first, then when I did he quickly said: “Strange, I could swear I’ve seen the name of the tool before.”, then I told him: “Yeah, it changes layout so depending on the context or amount of tools the names may or may not be displayed.”, he said: “So we have to memorize the tools and icon positions depending on layout or context??? WTF!”. He lost almost completely the interest to even look at Loop Tools by then, but I showed him anyway. He found really strong and cool, but was completely scared about learning max. I told him that the best way to work with max is a heavy customization, especially on shortcuts. Creating custom quads too BUT as they cannot be saved individually, it’s complicated to load them in newer max versions, as they usually add or change stuff on them very often.

-Anyway he downloaded the demo at home to try it out with time. But the next day he came to me and said: “Man, I gave up on max, it has some nice tools but the workflow is too wonky and it crashed 3x only this night.”.

I think it’s valid to share this experience, as it shows quite well a lot of what bad features implementation can cause to new users and how they mess up our workflow everyday. This is and always was my biggest gripe with Autodesk and Max developent. The lack of planning on feature implementation and productivity overall makes me sick, not to mention when they change stuff that works fine, making things worse. And that have been happening progressively since max 8.

Graphite is the gratest and most severe example. I mean, in 10 seconds I’ve seen things that are so wrong in anything about interface design that I was shocked. And they plan to make the whole max interface like that! How long max will take to start then? 10 minutes??? They clearly haven’t even take a look on how other softwares approached their interfaces. If you ever have used Cinema 4D you know what I’m talking about. It has an incredibly flexible and smart interface and is very very fast. Max interface is the most “rigid” and the least flexible of all 3D app out there, desperately needing a huge update, and all the biggest company in the world of 3D apps was able to bring us is a ribbon like interface, Graphite??? C’mon…

I will finish speculating about what I THINK XBR is all about. My guess is that it’s a strong modification on .max file format, allowing to open in previews max versions and other things like command line access. I think it relates to plugin development too, like plugins don’t having to be recompiled all the time. And for the last it’s about the “ribbonization” of the interface. I expect those 3 things to be deeply related to XBR at least…



Great read, thanks very much. I work with Max, Maya and Lightwave users on a daily basis and I have had a similar experience many times. I find that I sometimes show them things in Max that they find superior to the respective software they are used to, and I have also seen several things in Maya and Lightwave that I liked which don’t exist in Max. Sometimes it can also be the other way around. I think the problem is sometimes showing someone the direct tool comparisons instead of the workflow comparisons lead people to dislike a program without a fair trial. If I said “I really like Nurms modeling in Max, show me how you do that in Maya” and you showed me, and it was different than the way it works in Max I would say “Wow, its way better in Max.”

But if I said something like "Hey, I want to watch you model an apple in Maya and you did, and it took me about the same time to make it in Max, then you have shown me a new workflow.  My point is there isn't always a 1:1 match in tools from program to program, but they can all make the same things at the end of the day.  Now if you can model an apple in 60 seconds and it takes me a half hour, then there might be a good reason to switch softwares!


[gripe]I’m glad I’m not the only one who struggled with Max’s workflow and lack of performance on a lot of UI things. I started with Max 8, coming from Blender. Now with 2009, and I still wonder why the app is virtually the same UI/workflow-wise since at least v6, or even 4, which is what gMax was based off, and I used a tiny bit. Charging as much as it does, you’d think Autodesk would smarten up and listen to the crowds, instead of just saying “but it’s Max… It’s an industry Standard. Just use it.” [/gripe] It does have good performance and qualities in lots of other areas, at least over Blender, but the UI’s just retarded.


Thanks for taking the time reading such a long post. I admit I wouldn’t read it myself… :blush:

It’s really said to see many great features in max being obscured simply by bad design and workflows…



For me that is one of the problems with max, it’s a good program for a number of things, but everything’s bolted on, stacked together, so there’s not really any unified UI system to speak of. Every tool works a little bit differently from the other. That’s not a problem if you’ve worked with max a lot, but it is if you come from another program.


That was a very good read. I was a Cinema 4D user way before I started using Max. I had a hard time as well getting use to the UI, but once I did, I fell in love with it.

I do find it odd that the graphite tools took so long to load for you, they open instantly for me anytime I use them. Are you guys using 32 or 64 bit Max?

Also, since your friend is a modeler. The one thing you may want to do is take the highest poly model you guys have and bring it into max, and notice the the viewport navigation is still very smooth, Although you do need to be in Direct 3D mode and use 64 bit, but I have found anything over a million polys in Cinema and the viewport starts to really lag, where as in Max, so far I’ve been up to 15 million polys and still have smooth navigation.



Likely that’s the caching. I guess then that the viewport speed in C4D is the same when navigating as when you’re moving verts around?


moving verts and viewport speed, lag the same for me in cinema



Easiest tweak replacement I’ve found is the shift brush with Ignore Backfacing on.

Also best way to use Mesh Smooth while modeling isn’t through Mesh Smooth or Turbosmooth. Personally I think the built in Smooth is quickest and easiest. Just press the “NURMS” button in the Geometry Panel. That way you keep your multi-selection preview.

Also why did your swift loop move? Mine is in the exact same spot regardless of SO.


hi people
i am mainly working woth C4D at our company, we use also maya and 3dsmax

U speak out of my soul man.

Best Example :

I had to open a 3ds max file - someone modeled. he was so intelligent ( ironic ) to use on every object an independent mesh smooth, instead of one mesh smooth for all. i wanted to export the geometry to c4d. 125 parts. I wanted to export them on the lowest subdivision 0 , original poly state, so i can smooth them directly in C4D. But fbx etc exported the subdivision 2 state of mesh smooth ( which is logical ).
Ok, my healthy human mental stable mind said me, there must be a way to multi select all mesh smooth modifiers and put em all on 0. lol There was none. Instead of a possible multi selection, a 3ds max pro told me to write a little script. Ok ??? i need a script to multi select multiple modifiers of the same type? Just my opinion: If a 3D Software forces the customer to learn masochistic workflows and workarounds instead of becoming user friendly, why should the client use the software in the future ?

in c4d i can multi select everything, by object type, by name, by layers, by simple clicking on it, by the search function or the hierarchy. None of this ways would last more than 15 seconds for the 125 parts, some even only 2 seconds. In My opinion the Object inspector is superior in comparision to all scene managing tools avable in maya and 3dsmax. i dont know how 3ds max and maya users can deal with complex scenes with those crippled scene managing tools. seriously. but when i work with competitive CAD Data from other companies, i begin to understand whats the maya and 3dsmax workflow. Except some main groupings, there is no scene structure. Big Chaos. 3ds and maya users seem to work with everything by layering or clicking directly on it. its like having a bunch of trash at home and stuffing everything without clear order in to a bag, only thinking about the bag. the rest of the scene seems to have become unimportant after this step.

but this is perhaps just the way it should stay, as the 3dsmax user group is the oldest one, and as old people do not like changes.

One last thing: Two Artists, one C4D, one 3DS Max and one scene to tackle. Both use the native way, without fancy customization. the C4D artist would be about 200 to 400 percent more efficient in speed and scene managing ( no mistakes etc ). This example comes from my experience and several other freelancers. This are some reasons why i dont like working with 3dsmax. but its tool amount forces me to use it :stuck_out_tongue:


This do not represent the opionion of the company i am working for


This is the script your looking for KsiKsu, select all your objects, run the script and just hit delete turbsomooth



Not again … i hate these bashing threads …

Aha!.. So you say all modern ego shooters, real time strategie and role playing games are programmed by old men in nursing homes. Well that makes sense. And all the “zimmer frames” at the user meetings.


I won’t even go this way and try to explain why 3dsmax and Maya have in total more seats than all other apps together. And we can’t be all wrong. So use you C4D and let us all use our 3dsmax and Maya, while eating porridge and being brought to bed by a nurse. (doesn’t sound so bad! :slight_smile: )


Tell him to go learn houdini for a little while then you’ll never have a problem again adapting to another visfx package since it makes you learn the underlying aspects of everything, going back to something like 3ds max, as I did recently, is quite nice.


Dude - download the Nurms Toggle All script - http://www.scriptspot.com/search/node/nurms+toggle

Map it to a hotkey, and you can toggle Nurms off and on for your whole scene, has really sped up my workflow.



He wants to delete turbosmooths, not just turn them off, which turning them off, doesn’t get rid of the subdivision when you export, at least I dont think



If only there were some form of a scripting language in Max… :rolleyes:


Bobo, I know what your saying, but I’ve already posted a link to a script that will delete all TS an delete only selected TS, basically exactly what he needs.

Alo I really don’t think this needs to turn into a bashing thread, like previously stated. Eugenio is sincere about helping this person understand max and work efficiently



I don’t think it is a problem with max as much as the fact that people just do and understand things differntly.
Blaming max or any software for somebody not understanding it, is like blaming a cell phone becuase a old person can’t operate it.

Everybody can’t use a hammer or screwdriver the same either.



i don’t think this thread was started with the intension of ‘this-software-is-better-than-the-other’, but more with the intension to express a question why things are the way they are in 3dsmax and why should they stay the way they are.
you must admitt that 3dsmax carries quite a lot of legacy stuff; reaching back as far as into the early 90’s. so, imho, it is realy time to see if you want to carry on with all workflow paradigms; some clearly outdated.

i had a pm with ksiksu. well, he’s a real pro if it comes to c4d and now he works his way through 3dsmax. in this particular case he’s writing about, he has some 100s ojects in the scene and about 50 of them has a mesh smooth applied. all he wants to do is to switch-off, or disable the mesh smooth. he listed 5 or 6 ways to do that in a really fast way in c4d. not because, c4d is generally so superior, but because c4d has lot of ways to organize your scene while building up and afterwards. from that perspectiv, you might understand that he wasn’t that happy, when he learned that, instead of doing the task in a matter of seconds, as he was used to, his options are kind of limited, either go through the scene manually, write a script, or search the internet and see if someone else might have written a script. the last two points are no real options, if you’re new or a switcher.
-bobo, i think you would even model by scripting (take it as a compliment), but if you are new to the software, you start to wander-

it does no harm to take a look around trying to improve your fav software which also means that you need to point out shortcomeings.

my 2 cents.


i’ve been using 3ds since the DOS version 3ds 3. and using max until now, and yes, i feel your pain, I can work really fast in max, I know all the tricks and turnarounds for modelling in max but is true that is full of things like " they added this, but it won’t work if i do this…" etc…it needs a better implementation of the tools…i love max, but hate it at the same time :slight_smile: