Chapter 2
3ds Max at a3ds Max at a
Navigating with Viewports
Figure 2-1 shows 3ds Max in all its glory. Try not to be over-
whelmed if this is your first time looking at the interface.
There are many buttons and drop-down boxes, but in good
time you’ll know the ins and outs of Max 2008. Don’t worry;
I don’t expect you to remember every little detail from this
chapter — just remember to look back once in a while. I’ve
made sure to add many important workflow tips that will help
you in the end.
Before we have you recreating scenes from The Lord of the
Rings or doing anything too dramatic, you need to understand
the basics of moving around in Max.
When you first load up 3ds Max, you will notice that your
screen is broken up into quadrants. These are the four basic
viewports (Top, Front, Left, and Perspective). This is the
standard layout in most 3D packages and the default for 3ds
Max. The only actual 3D viewport is your Perspective view.
The others are two-dimensional views only, or orthographic
12 Chapter 2
Figure 2-1: 3ds Max user interface
If you look to the bottom-right corner of the 3ds Max
interface, you’ll find the viewport navigation tools. These are
the tools that allow you to zoom in,
zoom out, pan left and right, as well
as rotate around your objects in the
four views. There are two ways to
zoom and pan in 3ds Max. You can
use the Zoom tool (identified by the
magnifying glass), or you can use
your mouse wheel to quickly zoom in
and out.
If you move your cursor to the Perspective viewport and
click the left mouse button, you’ll notice that the viewport is
highlighted by a yellow border around the edge. That means
the Perspective viewport is now active. When the Perspective
viewport is activated, you can use your mouse wheel to zoom
in and out. Rolling up will zoom in and rolling back will zoom
3ds Max at a Glance 13
Figure 2-2: 3ds Max viewports
Figure 2-3: The viewport
navigation tools
If you want to use the Zoom tool, just click the magnifying
glass. Next, bring your cursor into the viewport, and hold the
left mouse button down while dragging the mouse toward and
away from the screen. You’ll notice that you are now zooming
in and out. These functions will work in any of the four
viewports inside 3ds Max.
“Click” means to press and release the left mouse button
(as long as you’ve kept the default configuration for your
mouse). “Right-click” indicates you need to click the right
mouse button. “Hold” means to click and hold the
indicated button. From here on, this is the convention
we’ll use throughout the book.
There will be many times when you want to see something as
large as possible, and zooming in is just not enough. You may
want to maximize your viewport so that you are only looking
at a desired quad. To maximize the Perspective viewport, you
must first make sure it is highlighted (as indicated by the yel-
low border). Next, select the Maximize Viewport toggle tool.
When you select the Maximize Viewport tool, you’ll notice
that your Perspective viewport now takes up the entire view-
ing area of 3ds Max. Ahhh, isn’t being able to see nice?
Tip: Maximize your view
Why look through a postage stamp-sized viewport?
I suggest working with a maximized viewport most of the
time. You can change what viewport you are looking
through with the hotkeys B, F, L, P, and T (in order, Back,
Front, Left, Perspective, and Top views). The Maximize
Viewport tool is a toggle button. If you want to minimize
the viewport, simply hit the button again. The default
hotkey for this function in Max is Alt+W.
14 Chapter 2
Figure 2-4: The
Maximize Viewport

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