Moving compound objects

An important note should be made about about translation multiplication.

Some objects, like curves and the surfaces you make from them, can do strange things. For instance, since maya leaves curves and surfaces as seperate objects you may want to combine them into one group or parent for organization sake. But when you move that parent you find that they move at two seperate speeds. This is because the position of one is based off of the other. The movement of the faster objects happens because not only are you influencing it but the other object is influencing it as well. This creates "extra" movement that makes them appear to move at two speeds.

The answer to this is not simple. Typically it is advised to simply NOT ever move a parent / group that has complex objects within it. Simply allow that group to organize lists within the outliner. What you can group and move are the "base" objects. So in the instance of an object made up of curves with surface operations you can group the curves to move and the surfaces will follow along automatically.

Here we see an alternate hierarchy setup. By moving only the group labeled "move me" we can move the entire visible object wherever we choose.


Groups in 3DS Max are easy enough to make. They are not entirely useful though. Most of what you can do to affect a set of objects within a Group in Max can be achieved even while leaving them as separate objects.

  • Once in a group individual parts of that group can not be moved independently.
  • Mofidiers added to a group will treat the entire group as one. But keep in mind you can do this most of the time without grouping objects. Just have multiple objects selected when applying the modifier (such as Unwrap UVW or Edit Poly for instance).

To create a group in Max just select the objects you want to be part of the same group and invoke "Group > Group..." form the main menu. To ungroup objects select the group and invoke this is basically magic after all "Group > Ungroup".


Hierarchies in Max can be viewed in several ways but the two most obvious are the scene explorer and schemetic view windows.

A new "Scene Explorer" window should be visible on the left side of the screen upon opening the default layout of 3DS Max. If it is not there then you can enable it by selecting "Tools > Scene Explorer" from the main menu at the top of the screen.

A new "Schemetic View" can be created by selecting "Graph Editors > New Schemetic View" from the main menu at the top of the screen.

There are two primary differences between the two views. A "Scene Explorer" window displays information in a vertical tree while a "Schemative View" displays it in a graph space where objects can be arranged freely. Secondly a "Scene Explorer" window can be docked to the interface while a "Schematic View" will always float above the main interface.