Archive for the ‘user interface’ Category

I just wanted to point out some very useful buttons. These may be two of the most useful tools in the mesh modifier rollouts. The attach button is used for attaching several meshes into one mesh. The detach button is used for detaching a selected portion of a mesh into a new mesh. I’ve found these useful for managing large scenes so I don’t have to group objects. You will notice that you see Attach and Attach List, but if you click Polygon or Element, Attach List will switch to Detach.

In this first example you will see that there is just one object in the scene. I chose select by Element, which will select all connected faces. So when I select a face on the tire, the whole tire is selected.

When you click on Detach it will give you several options. If Detach to Element is checked then the faces will stay in the same mesh. If Detach to Element is unchecked then you can name the mesh that it will convert it to.

When you click ok, now you will see two meshes in your scene. The original mesh (AudiTT) and the new mesh (tire01). The new meshes that are created from an existing mesh will always share the same material.

In this next example you can see that there are 9 different meshes for this model. To attach them together you must have one of them selected. I chose the mesh BMW5_FLWHEEL. Now you can either click on Attach or Attach List. When Attach is selected, anytime you click on another mesh it will attach it to your current mesh.

When you click on Attach List, it will pull up the scene selector, and allow you to select other meshes by list. This is useful if you have too many objects to select in the 3D viewport.
If the new mesh you are attaching to the old mesh has a different material, this dialogue pops up. It is giving you several options for what to do with merging meshes with different materials. I usually just leave it as is, and hit ok. These settings will create a new Multi/Sub Object Material (MSOM) with instances of the existing materials. When the meshes are attached their faces will have corresponding IDs to their material ID.

Now you will see that there is just one mesh in the scene, and that the only root material is an MSOM for the car. You will also notice that the name of the mesh is based on the first mesh you select to attach other meshes to.

If you use the Alt+W (Maximize Viewport toggle) as much as I do, you’ll know that it’s the greatest keyboard shortcut for Max. You’ll also find that it’s very frustrating when you have an Editable Mesh selected. This scenario happens often because I like to select my mesh in one view, then toggle viewports and hit Z so I don’t have to “find” the mesh again in the new view. This was bugging me for a long time, and took me a while to figure out what the deal was. Alt+W always works unless you have an Editable Mesh selected and you have the Modify tab selected (which is the tab that I have selected most of the time when working in max). If you have any other tab selected (Create, Hierarchy, Motion, Display, Utilities) it works fine. So if you are wanting to quickly toggle your viewport with a Mesh selected, just remember to select a different tab before you Alt+W.


As someone pointed out, the Keyboard Override button will toggle between using the same shortcuts for Max global commands and using them for objects as Meshes, Track View, NURBS and some other shortcuts. Alt+W just happens to be a very important global shortcut that is also used for weld target mode for Edit/Editable Mesh.

This really isn’t a trick. It’s just understanding how materials in max work, but it can sometimes still feel like a trick. This “trick” may resolve some of your Multi/Sub-Object (MSOM) woes. There is often the scenario that you import a .3ds file into max, and it contains several meshes each with a MSOM but with instanced sub-Standard materials. The next thing you want to do is to change them from Standard to A&D or V-ray materials, once without having to do any copy then paste (instance).


Having too many MSOM’s in the Material Editor, especially with sub instanced materials can make max sluggish and perform slowly. I will show you an efficient way to do this that doesn’t slow max down, and makes it a quick and easy job.

On the right is a similar scenario where I imported a .3ds file, to find that it created 3 meshes each with 3 MSOM’s. I wanted to change all of the materials from Standard to A&D without going through the list of the MSOM’s and seeing which one had (Standard) and which one had (Arch & Design(mi)) next to them.

Firstly in the material editor, click on the Get Material button on the left or go to Rendering->Material/Map Browser.

On the left in the Browse From section, if you click on Scene, it will potentially show you all of the materials and maps you have in your scene. So just because your material editor is empty, doesn’t mean you don’t have materials in your scene.

You will also notice that on the right side of the material, it will have a list of geometry that the material is actually applied to. If the material is a MSOM, I find it helpful to name material after the mesh its applied to…just to keep things straight in my head.

Now if you have Root Only checked, you will only see the MSOM and not the other materials inside the MSOM. If you un-check Root Only, then you will see all of the other materials show up. This is very handy, because you can go one more step and tweak the individual material.

So for example, the image on the left: I clicked on an empty slot (bottom-left) in the material editor, then went to the Material/Map Browser and I double clicked on FrontCol (Standard). This places it in the empty slot in the Material Editor. Because I have FrontCol in all 3 MSOM, and it’s instanced it doesn’t matter which MSOM I grabbed it from.

Now because it’s standing by itself I can do whatever I want to it, and it will change it in all 3 MSOM’s! So I clicked on Standard and changed it to A&D, and you’ll notice that it changed the FrontCol in all 3 MSOM’s to (Arch & Design (mi)) in the Material/Map Browser.

Voila, the easy way to change materials in MSOM’s!


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