Camera & Viewport Types

In 3DS Max it's simply to modifiy individual viewports to face a particular direction. Simply select the view menu from the upper left of the viewport you want to change and select the desired angle (the menu itself is denoted by the name of the current state, so a perspective view will simply say "perspective" in the corner). This is shown by the Blue arrow below.

The easiest way to toggle between a single viewport and a quad view is to press the "Maximize viewport toggle" in the very lower right of the program. This is shown by the Red arrow below. The keyboard shortcut for this command is ALT-W.

Camera Controls

Nearly all required camera control knowledge in Max will boil down to a simple idea. "Middle-Click" the scroll wheel to pan, "Alt-Middle-Click" the scroll wheel to rotate. Along with using the scroll wheel to zoom in and own you can place the default camera anywhere you like. But be aware also that you can just Left-Click and drag the viewbox in the upper right of every viewport to achieve the same affect. Clicking the box itself will assign a view, clicking and holding will rotate the view, clicking and holding the circle beneath it will rotate only horizontally around the subject.

If you do not feel like remembering all of the various keyboard shortcuts for controling cameras, although you should, you can still access all of the functionality of them via the control panel that appears in the far lower right of the interface in the default layout. Controls such as zoom, dolly, pan, and so on all have clickable icons here.

Remember that should you move the camera in a way you do not want to in Max you can use "Shift-Z" to undo camera changes. This is an incredibely helpful shortcut when either composing a shot for rendering or after just asccidentally moving an orthoganl view from facing a single axis direction.

Translation, Rotation, Scale

Max refers to the parts of a model, vertices, edges, faces, as "sub-objects". I guess this makes sense? Kind of? I don't know...

For new comers to Max you simply have to keep one thing in mind when it comes to editing individual sub-objects. You must have an edit modifier to modify these sub objects. If you simply create a "box" object you will not be able to move any of the points, edges, or faces until an "Edit Poly" modifier is added.

One thing that will sometimes throw newcomers and experts alike is getting into the habit of exiting a subj-object mode when you are done making your edits. This is an important step. For instance. Take any mesh object and add an Edit Poly modifier, then a symmetry modifier. If you descend into the Edit Poly and activatea sub-object mode but then immediately either go back to the symmetry mod or another object the symmetry object will appear to no long work. Why? Because while the sub-object mode in the Edit Poly modifier is active it will maintain "control" over the object. Go back to the Edit Poly modifier and make sure that no subj-object mode is active and then you can continue on to another object with the modifiers at the top of the stack, like symmetry, working properly.

Also remember that while within an edit poly modifier you can easily switch between sub-object modes by pressing the numerical keys on your keyboard. "1" will activate vertex mode, "2" edges, and so forth.

Object organization

For now discussed mostly within the organization section.


I can't select anything!

Press Space. The space bar is a quick button to "freeze" everything but the currently selected object / sub-object. It is useful for cases where you might be constantly selecting other objects you don't wish to.

I can only move my object / sub-object in one direction!

Max has a quick way of locking directional movement. This is done by merely clicking (without holding or dragging) one of the directional axis arrows / indicators on the gizmo of the object / sub-object that you have selected.

Just click the middle square at the center of the gizmo to be able to move in all directions again. You'll know which option you have selected because it will be highlighted in yellow.

It's there because it can be useful to move an object in one direction. Say you are placing furniture in a house. You don't want to move the furniture up and down, only along the ground plane, so you might click on this direction restriction to temporarily prevent vertical movment.

Half of my buttons dissapearred!?!?!?!?

You might have enabled "Expert mode". Press CTRL-X to toggle this mode. This mode is meant for people who have memorized most of the useful keyboard shortcuts and therefore don't need to look at the interface. This isn't you.

My textures are blurry!

Something you'll notice when you learn how to create textures (colors) for your objects is that what you see in your viewport while working on the object is blurry compared to when you render your object.

Click the "+" sign in the upper left of the viewport and select "Configure Viewports...". In the new window look for the "Texture Maps" option of the "Textures Display Resolution" section. Make it the same as your texture image resolution. Be aware that making it too large might slow down your working viewport.