About this Series

Project 1: The Talented Ball

As soon as you have acquired a basic grasp of 3ds Max's interface, it's time to jump into your first project. This is where you really get a chance to get your hands dirty with the software, creating your first fully modeled, animated, textured, and rendered scene. The project depicts a bouncing ball character who leaps out onto a curtained stage for a talent show!

You'll be introduced to the concepts of keyframe animation, and how keyframes and animation curves are created and edited to provide total control of the look of your scene's animation. You'll see how 3ds Max's Modifier Stack can be used to create not only a tremendous variety of effects, but how those effects can be animated to add an incredible amount of detail and character to your scenes, such as a cartoon-like squash and stretch for your ball character as he bounces across the stage! You'll also see how reactive animation is handled inside of 3ds Max with the Reaction Manager, as well as how you can use it to create automated 'rig' for characters in your scene, and how to make easy-to-use control systems for various scene elements!

From there, you'll be introduced to the Material Editor, learning how materials are controlled through texture maps. Once your scene is fully textured, you'll see how to light and render the animation, as well as how to convert your frames to a final movie using Video Post.

Project 2: When F-14s Attack

The second project of 3ds Max Fundamentals covers a multi-scene animation in which two F-14 fighters take off from an aircraft carrier under cover of night to strike an enemy installation! The project focuses on the use of a custom multi asset pipeline using Max's XRef feature to allow for easy editing of scene assets without having to make dramatic changes to the scene.

You'll start off with an in-depth look at 3ds Max's reference coordinate systems, and how they can be used to create a wide variety of custom transforms tailored to your specific needs. You'll also be introduced to 3ds Max's Editable Poly object, and how you can use its included modeling tools to create any shape imaginable. You'll also see how Max's splines can be used to create objects using the Surface Modifier.

The animation for the project will cover many scenes and camera angles, including the takeoff of the F-14 fighter jets, their midair rendezvous, and a missile strike on a target oil rig. As you progress through each lesson, you'll learn a different aspect of scene creation and management including modeling, UVW unwrapping and texturing, material animation, constraint animation, and particle animation as you create missiles complete with thrusters, contrails, and a resulting explosion!

Project 3: Dragon's First Birthday

Project 3 turns the heat up a notch as you create your first fully modeled, textured, rigged, and animated bipedal character! The animation for this project depicts a baby dragon celebrating his first birthday, but things go a bit wrong when he gets a little overexcited while blowing out his candle!

This is easily the most advanced project of the class. Starting with the creation of a simple scene, you'll quickly be moved onto one of the most daunting tasks for an upcoming animator: The creation of your first bipedal character animation; an important milestone in mastering any 3D animation software. You'll see how to create the character using polygon tools, as well as how to unwrap its UVWs and apply a custom texture.

From there, we cover the creation of a complete character rig from scratch, rather than simply relying on the prefabricated Biped rig included with 3ds Max. In so doing, you'll get to see exactly how bones work, how to properly apply inverse kinematics (IK), and how to apply control objects to turn your character into an easily controllable digital puppet. Once the rig is constructed, you'll see how to attach your model's geometry to the skeleton through the process of skinning using Max's Skin Modifier. You'll see how you can control and edit the skinning of your character to create a realistic look of flexibility and deformation as the character moves.

The animation for the dragon will consist of a simple walk cycle, a couple of hop sequences where he tries to blow out a candle on his cake, and then a short sequence where in the excitement, he accidentally takes flight and incinerates the entire cake. You'll see how to create animation using rotoscoping, and how to add facial expressions using Morph Targets.

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