3ds Max - Modeling a Baseball with MCG

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  • Design Visualization
  • 2016
  • MCG
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate

3ds Max - Modeling a Baseball with MCG

In this tutorial, you learn to model a detailed baseball, right down to the seams and stitches, by using two Max Creation Graphs.


  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2016
  • The interface in this tutorial applies to MCG 2017. The interface in MCG 2018 has been revised to a new node naming scheme.


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In this movie, you learn to build a detailed baseball, right down to the seams and stitches.

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In doing so, you will use two Max Creation Graphs you have learned about in other tutorials on this channel.

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These would be the MCG_Clone tool and the MCG_ConformMesh tool.

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If you haven't followed the tutorials that relate to these tools, you can certainly do so before moving on.

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However, you can still skip viewing those tutorials and simply load the tools as they are part of the zip archive you downloaded for this tutorial.

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For that, start 3ds Max, and then from the Scripting menu choose: "Install Max Creation Graph (.mcg) Package".

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Browse to where you have stored the files you downloaded. There should be two of them.

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Select one to view its information, and then click Install to install the tool on your system.

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Repeat for the other file.

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More information about installing and packaging graphs is showcased in another movie on this channel named "MCG - Packaging and Installing".

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The install procedure you just did added two new modifiers to your system, both starting with the prefix MCG_.

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In a nutshell, the MCG_Clone modifier is a duplication tool where you specify a number of clones, with options for position, rotation and scale offsets.

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What makes this tool interesting is that the end result is viewed as a single object.

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You will use it later to create the stitching on the baseball.

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The MCG_ConformMesh tool is a modifier that ensures one surface conforms to another, with some relax and offset parameters built-in.

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You will use both modifiers to good effect, along with some other 3ds Max workflows to create a detailed baseball.

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Start or reset 3ds Max.

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Make sure your System Units are set to Inches,

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and that your Display Units are set to Generic.

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Create a box and make it 40 units on each side.

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Press F4 to view the scene in Edged Faces mode. You may be using this toggle key often in this tutorial, so remember it.

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In the Hierarchy panel, center the pivot point to the box. This is done by using the Affect Pivot Only and Center to Object buttons.

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Exit this mode and relocate the box to the center of the world at [0,0,0].

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In the Utilities panel, use the Reset XForm tool to reset the Transformation Matrix on the object.

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Finally convert the box to an Editable poly.

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Next, create a sphere with a 20-unit radius.

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Relocate it to 0,0,0 so that it fits inside the box. If you want you can see it better by temporarily using the F3 wireframe toggle.

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Actually, you can hide the sphere for now using the Scene Explorer; you don't really need to see it.

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Select the box again and apply a TurboSmooth modifier to it, with an Iterations value of 2, in essence spherifying the box.

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Although a baseball is spherical in nature, using a box and turning it into a sphere prevents the pinching that a traditional sphere has on its poles.

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Also this helps with edge flow as you later define the path where you want to place the stitches.

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Go back down to the Editable Poly level but make sure you enable the Show end result toggle so you can see what you are working on.

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Try something for size: go into Edge mode and note the orange edges representing the base box.

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Select the following edges with help of the Ctrl key.

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In the Edit Edges rollout, note what happens when you adjust the Crease value.

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The selected edges act like magnets to the geometry of the box, by pulling in vertices.

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Exit Edge mode and go to the top of the stack.

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Add the MCG_ConformMesh modifier you installed previously.

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Use the Surface input to select the sphere in the Scene Explorer.

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The spherified box is now slightly bigger as it conforms to the size of the hidden sphere you built earlier.

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You can in fact further adjust it by editing the PushAmt value. Leave it at 0 for this tutorial.

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Now go back down to the Editable Poly > Edge mode and try the Crease value again.

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Set the Crease value to 1.

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This time, there are two forces at work:

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The selected edges are still trying to pull in vertices, but the ConformMesh modifier prevents the object from deforming too much.

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It remains a sphere because it conforming to one, but the edge flow changes, and now presents you with a perfect loop to add seams and stitches.

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Exit Edge mode and go back to the top of the stack.

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Add an Edit Poly modifier and go into edge mode again.

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Select one of the edges on the seam where you will eventually add stitches and click the Loop button.

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The loop is interrupted when it reaches a 3-point vertex.

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Use Ctrl+click to add the next edge in line and use the Loop tool again.

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Even easier, you can hold Ctrl and double-click the next edge to select the next loop.

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Keep going until the whole loop is selected.

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Next you'll use the Chamfer tool to create the seam.

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Here's a little tip for you: typically you use the Edit Poly Model mode to model, if you are not planning to animate the deformations.

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So here, you can certainly use Chamfer to turn the loop into a double loop.

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However, you have no means to edit the chamfer size after creating it,

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the Settings button is grayed out because changes done in this mode are automatically committed .

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You would need to undo the command and re-run it to get different results.

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If you use the same technique in Animate mode though,

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you will find that you can access the Settings at any time to refine the changes,

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as long as you haven't manually committed those changes.

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This will enable you to revisit the parameters at any later time to fine-tune the results.

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Exit Edge mode and rename the modifier "Edit Seam"

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Next, add another Edit Poly modifier on top and access Edge mode yet again.

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This time, select the ring of edges that Chamfer created earlier.

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This can be done by selecting one edge and then using the Ring button,

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or by selecting one edge and then shift selecting the one next to it.

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Click the Connect button to connect all these edges together with a new edge loop.

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Use the Scale tool to scale the loop down to create a crease.

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Exit Edge mode when done. Rename the modifier: "Edit Crease".

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Add another TurboSmooth on top of the stack.

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Set it to Isoline Display to make the ball easier to read.

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At this point, you can go back for further refinements: You can re-adjust the seam,

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Or the scaling of the crease loop.

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This takes care of the ball itself, but you still need to extract information to create the stitches.

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Temporarily disable the TurboSmooth modifier at the top of the stack so you can see clearer, and go to the Edit Crease > Edge mode level.

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If you followed along, the crease loop should still be selected. Click the Settings icon next to Create Shape.

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Make sure the type is set to Smooth to create a curve, and name the new shape: "Stitch Loop" and then click OK.

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Exit Edge mode and enable TurboSmooth once again.

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Next you tackle the stitches. Stitches on a baseball are usually set in a V-pattern.

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You need to create one stitch and then duplicate it to follow the loop you extracted.

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Temporarily hide the baseball, you should be able to see the stitch loop a little easier.

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In the Top view and strictly for reference purposes, draw a rectangle as big as you feel a single stitch may be, about 1.5x2 units.

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Zoom in on it and using the line tool, draw the first line representing a stitch.

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Disable Start New Shape and then create the second line of the stitch.

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Rename the object: "Stitches",

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and then delete the reference rectangle when done.

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Select the stitch shape again and make it visible in the viewport and at render time.

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A Thickness value of 0.3 should be fine for now.

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Go into Vertex mode,

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and convert the vertices to Bezier mode;

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and then adjust the handles to curve the stitch somewhat.

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If you need to, change the wirecolor to see the stitch better.

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When you're adjusting handles, use the F8 toggle to switch axis coordinates based on the view you are working in.

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Move the stitch to the side,

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and adjust its pivot point. Center it or move it manually to relocate it where you feel it should be.

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Next, unhide the box that you turned into a baseball.

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In fact, rename it accordingly and call it: Baseball. If you need to, change its wirecolor as well.

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Select the stitch,

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and apply an MCG_Clone modifier to it.

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This modifier was created using the Max Creation Graph tool, and there is a step-by-step tutorial on that subject on this very channel.

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It enables you to define a number of duplicates, with offset options for position, rotation and scale.

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Here, you only need to define a number of clones, and a Y-offset distance.

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At this point, you are not 100% sure of either value, so use about 10 duplicates with a Y-offset value of about 3. You'll change these in a moment.

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What is more significant is that the end result of this modifier ensures all the duplicates and the original are regarded as one object.

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This means you can add a Path Deform (WSM) modifier to the top of the stack, and pick the Stitch Loop as a path to follow.

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You also want to use the Move to Path option and specify the same deformation axis that you specified as a clone direction offset, in this case Y.

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At this point, the stitches could be pointing the wrong way. You can edit the Path Deform Rotation value to get them right.

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In this video, a value of about 140 degrees seems about just right.

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Also, the stitches seem to be digging a bit too deep. To adjust that, go into Editable Spline > Spline mode.

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Disable Show End Results temporarily on the Modifier Stack. In the Front view, select the two splines that make the stitch.

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Note that you can move them up or down without affecting the pivot point.

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Since the pivot point acts as an anchor when using Path Deform, moving the splines up or down induces a vertical offset.

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Enable Show End Results yet again and move the selected splines up or down to see the results.

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Adjust the splines until you get a good result in the viewport.

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Finally, to add more stitches, it's a question of going back to the MCG_Clone tool and adjusting the values.

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Again, in this particular example, I will set the clone number to 95 and the Y offset to 1.72.

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If you need to, you can also go back to the spline level and adjust the thickness of the stitch.

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That's it! You can take it from here and apply your own materials and lighting to the scene.

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If you prefer, you can take a look at the finished version of this project found in the zip archive you downloaded for this tutorial.
Posted By
  • 3ds Max
  • 2016
  • MCG
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