3ds Max Modeling Techniques - Boolean Operations

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  • Design Visualization
  • Modeling
  • 2011
  • Basics
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Beginner
4 min

3ds Max Modeling Techniques - Boolean Operations

In this tutorial, learn how to use Boolean Operations to build 3d mathematical derivatives of 3d objects. You will experiment by learning how to add, subtract and intersect objects to create new objects.


  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2010
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2010 or higher.


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You use Boolean operations to create mathematical derivatives
of 3D objects.

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The resulting object is created by adding, subtracting or intersecting
multiple objects.

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Typically, you don't use Boolean operations to model organic objects,

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by their very nature, Booleans are more useful for mechanical
or architectural designs.

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In this example, you'll use boolean operations to assemble 3D geometry
into a fireplace mantle.

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The existing geometry was created mostly with boxes with slight
edits to round off some corners and edges.

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The molding on top was created using the Sweep modifier
and then converted to an Editable Poly.

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To use Boolean operations, you need two or more intersecting objects
in the scene.

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Select a base blue box and go to the Create Compound Objects panel.
This is where you will find the ProBoolean tool.

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The Boolean tool also seen here uses older technology.

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It is recommended to use ProBoolean instead.

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When you use this tool, the selected object is converted
into a proboolean object,

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and you can now use boolean operation on it.

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Start off by using the Attach operation to attach
all the blue parts together.

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Use the Start Picking button, and then use the Select by Name dialog
to select all boxes and the LineSweep object.

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This attaches all the objects but does not perform any geometric edits yet,

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however, you now have one resulting object instead of the original eight.

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Using the Layer toolbar, unhide the "detail" layer. Additional objects
appear in green.

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The rectilinear objects on either side of the mantle are made of capsule

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Still in in Start Picking mode, set the Boolean operation to Subtraction,
and go to the Select by Name dialog again.

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Select all twelve capsule objects and click the Pick button.
Notice the embossed figures on the mantle in the viewport.

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Proboolean can handle more complex geometry than simple primitives.

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In Subtraction mode and with Start Picking still enabled,
click the text in the viewport.

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The operation takes a while longer but the operation is still successful.

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At any time, you can switch operation modes. Using Union, pick the two
remaining details using the Select by Name dialog.

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This time, instead of being subtracted, the two objects are added
to the geometry.

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It is important to remember that boolean operations are calculated linearly.

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This means that adding an operation on top of another may affect
the result unexpectedly.

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Unhide the "extra-detail" layer. Use Subtraction mode to create
two negative volumes in the mantel.

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This removes geometry from the original blue model, but also the details
you added a moment ago.

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Sure enough, notice in the Sub-object Operations the order in which
they are calculated.

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You can rearrange that order by selecting an operation
and giving it new spot.

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For example, to evaluate the Sub1 subtraction before the detail1 union,
you give the subtraction the ID number 21 and click the Reorder Ops button.

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This operation is now evaluated earlier while others have been pushed
down. Notice the detail is now visible in the viewport.

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Similarly, you can reorder Sub2 to take place earlier, with an ID of 22.

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You now have a resulting boolean object made of 24 elements or operands.
You can still have access to individual operands if you need to.

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For example, the two details you have been manipulating are extruding
a tad too much. You need to push them in a little bit.

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This can be done in the Modify panel. Expand the Proboolean label
and click Operands to access this sub-object mode.

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In the Sub-object Operations list, use CTRL to select the last two
entries (detail1 & detail2).

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Using the Move tool in Offset mode, move the operands 0.5"
in the Y-direction. Exit Operands mode when done.

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To view the mantle textured, go to the Material Editor and drag
the Wood_Oak material onto the mantle in the viewport.
Posted By
  • 3ds Max
  • Modeling
  • 2011
  • Basics
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