3ds Max Modeling Techniques - Part 3 - Curtain Walls

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  • Design Visualization
  • Modeling
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
6 min

3ds Max Modeling Techniques - Part 3 - Curtain Walls

In this final tutorial, learn how to model a curtain wall. Unlike the previous tutorials where most of the modeling was spline-based, here, most of the modeling is done at an editable poly level. You will start with a spline that you first extrude into a thin sheet, then turn into an editable poly, and finally edit it to create glazing and mullions.

  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2011
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2011 or higher.


00:00:00 --> 00:00:05
In this movie, you take a look at an efficient method of modeling
curtain walls.

00:00:05 --> 00:00:08
Select the curtain wall that makes the corner of the building.

00:00:09 --> 00:00:11
Hide it or delete it so you can rebuild it.

00:00:12 --> 00:00:16
Set an Orthographic view in Wireframe mode.

00:00:18 --> 00:00:23
Right-click the 3D Snap tool and set it to Midpoint only.

00:00:25 --> 00:00:33
Enable it and then draw a line that represents the base of the curtain wall,
running through the middle of the existing wall opening.

00:00:33 --> 00:00:36
Disable Snap mode when done.

00:00:39 --> 00:00:43
Extrude the line you created to fill the opening.

00:00:45 --> 00:00:47
It should be 13'-6".

00:00:48 --> 00:00:58
Turn your view into shaded mode again (F3). Also make sure that
Edged Faces mode (F4) is active so that edges are visible in the viewport.

00:00:59 --> 00:01:06
Convert the extruded spline to an editable poly.
Next you start subdividing it to help with the creation of mullions.

00:01:07 --> 00:01:13
Expand the modeling ribbon and choose the SwiftLoop tool.
This will help you subdivide the curtain wall.

00:01:13 --> 00:01:20
Place your cursor in the appropriate positions and click to divide the mesh.

00:01:25 --> 00:01:30
To divide a set of edges directly in the middle, use the Connect tool
instead of SwiftLoop.

00:01:30 --> 00:01:34
Select a set of parallel edges and then click Connect.

00:01:35 --> 00:01:39
Once the basic divisions are done, it is time to give the mullions a width.

00:01:39 --> 00:01:46
In Polygon sub-object mode, select all polygons
except those that make the corner column.

00:01:49 --> 00:01:55
Use the Inset Settings and set the type to By Polygon.

00:01:58 --> 00:02:02
Specify a width of 1" and accept the value.

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This gives the mullions a thickness and leaves you
with a set of selected polygons that represent the glazing.

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Detach these polygons and give them the name Glazing.

00:02:19 --> 00:02:26
While you're at it, select the polygons that make the corner column
and detach those too.

00:02:28 --> 00:02:31
Give the new object an appropriate name.

00:02:34 --> 00:02:38
Exit sub-object mode and rename the selected object Mullions.

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These mullions have thickness but no depth.

00:02:44 --> 00:02:48
With the Mullions selected, apply a Shell Modifier.

00:02:51 --> 00:02:56
Set the Inner and Outer values to 4" to give the mullions a depth.

00:02:59 --> 00:03:06
Similarly, apply a Shell Modifier to the corner column
and give it an Outer Amount of 2".

00:03:09 --> 00:03:14
Take a look in the top view and notice how the corner column
is slightly deformed.

00:03:14 --> 00:03:24
When using the shell modifier, especially in architectural modeling,
you generally want to enable the option: "Straighten Corners".

00:03:32 --> 00:03:39
Finally, do the same for the glazing with very small
Inner and Outer amounts

00:03:47 --> 00:03:54
Apply the same metallic blue material to the structure
and a transparent material to the glazing.

00:04:03 --> 00:04:08
At this time, the Shell modifier gave you a basic
inner and outer extrusion to the mullions.

00:04:08 --> 00:04:12
This would be fine for most purposes when the building is viewed
from a distance.

00:04:13 --> 00:04:16
For a close-up shot, you may need a bit more detail.

00:04:16 --> 00:04:22
Instead of a simple extrusion, you can use the Shell modifier
in conjunction with a spline.

00:04:22 --> 00:04:26
The extrusion is then made based on that spline profile.

00:04:27 --> 00:04:33
Drawing the profile in the correct orientation is tricky but fortunately,
you can always adjust it after the fact.

00:04:33 --> 00:04:42
In the top view, draw a profile to add details to the mullions
like chamfered corners and contours for the glazing.

00:04:47 --> 00:04:53
When done, select the mullions and in the Shell Parameters,
enable Bevel Edges.

00:04:53 --> 00:04:57
Click the None button and then select the spline you just created.

00:04:57 --> 00:05:04
In this case, the bevel is done in the opposite direction
than the one anticipated.

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Select the profile once more and go to spline sub-object mode.

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Select the spline and mirror it horizontally to get the required effect.

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For linear shapes like curtain walls, you may want to add
a Smooth modifier to the top of the stack.

00:05:40 --> 00:05:50
The mullions are still dependent on the profile.
You can add more detail to the profile and see them update on the mullions.

00:05:55 --> 00:05:59
Of course, remember that additional detail is only useful
in a close-up shot.

00:06:00 --> 00:06:05
When seen from a distance, additional detail only adds to rendering time.

00:06:11 --> 00:06:19
In this 3-part series, you learned different methods
to model architectural metal. We hope you found these techniques useful.
Posted By
  • 3ds Max
  • Modeling
  • 2012
  • 2011
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