3ds Max User Interface Primer for the New 3D Artist

Posted by chrismmurray, 13 November 2012 3:47 pm

One of the most frequent comments I get  from new users to 3ds Max is how complicated the UI is. Well, I'm not going to lie... it is complicated. But you must also realize that 3ds Max does complicated things. Many would like to think that 3d graphics and animation is so commoditized that its like desktop publishing was in late 80's. Well thats just not the case. 

Sure, there are pro-sumer and hobbyist level tools out there to allow people to plunk around and do some interesting things. There are professional level tools as well that have a very different look and feel to the their UI.

But 3ds Max has been around for 20 years. Its a proven tool set and does serious (but fun!) things. 

With 20 years of hindsight, sure there are UI elements I would do differently. Since I am at Autodesk I get to see and comment on new ideas surrounding workflow and UI.

Not knowing (or not saying ;) ) whether things will see the light of day I think its important to have a basic understanding of what I call the "10,000 ft.-Level" of the 3ds Max UI as it stands today. So in order to do that, I've created this UI primer for those artists that are new to 3ds Max. You can have any level of 3d expereince... this is really about organization and a little of the psychology behind the UI. 

This video is about 15 minutes long, but I believe it might shave a couple of hours off your learning curve.

And now on with the show...



Posted 13 November 2012 8:13 pm

complicated? actually out of all the big dogs (maya, SI, c4d, houdini...uh maybe modo)...3ds max is perhaps the easiest and quickest to pick up on!


Posted 16 November 2012 2:30 am

MAya interface is way more messy and confusing than max. So is softimage.,


Posted 16 November 2012 3:36 am

agree with timd1971 and Cubical. max interface is so organized and have a specific way of doing everything. when we are used to that pattern, we can even guess what kind of dialog is coming next.


Posted 16 November 2012 12:26 pm

agree with previous posts.

One Problem of max is the robbon vs. command panel, see: http://3dsmaxfeedback.autodesk.com/forums/80695-general-feature-requests/suggestions/1488775-ribbon-interface-or-command-panel-one-should-go-a


Posted 16 November 2012 6:59 pm

oh yeah... guess I forgot about the ribbon... I don't use it much...but yes...that damn thing is total bull.

really bad decision to go the "ribbon" route like MS Office..and now Windows 8 EXPLORER has a frickn ribbon! what is this world coming to? (oh yeah...the end in DEC? hahaha!)


Posted 13 December 2012 5:11 am

I told my students:
Take your left hand, put your fingers on 1234 - the subobjects for modeling. Just below that, qwer - all the manipulation of objects. That's the basics of the max interface. Paired with the command panel you're off to the races.

I always remap the space bar key (lock selection) to min/max toggle (alt-w) because it's the biggest key on the whole keyboard, I use it all the time, and hitting lock selection accidentally is like the twilight zone if you don't realize it when you're first using the program. Stupid default key.

I have gotten rid of most of the interface for years, just using the hotkeys and command panel on a 2nd monitor. The quad menus could use a makeover, they should be far more funtional. Never really played with the ribbon or graphite modeling tools - I'm aware that I've totally missed out so far, old habits.

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