Creating City Blocks in 3ds Max - Part 17 - Making a 3ds Max Plugin Permanent

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  • Design Visualization
  • Animation
  • Modeling
  • Scripting
  • 2014
  • Environment
  • Workflow
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
6 min

Creating City Blocks in 3ds Max - Part 17 - Making a 3ds Max Plugin Permanent

In Part 16 "Creating City Blocks in 3ds Max - Using Primitive Maker," you learned how to turn mesh object into 3ds Max primitives using Primitive Maker by Garp. In this tutorial, you learn how to make those newly-defined primitives a permanent feature in 3ds Max. Note, the workflow you learn about in this tutorial is session-based.

Recorded in: 3ds Max 2014
This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2014 or higher.


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In the last movie, you learned how to turn mesh object into 3ds Max primitives using Primitive Maker by Garp.

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The workflow you learned about is session-based though, so a restart of 3ds Max would leave you without the UD Components option.

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In order to make the new primitives a permanent feature, you need to understand how Primitive Maker operates.

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When you used the tool in the last movie, you specified folders and primitive names to be stored on the hard drive.

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Primitive Maker created a sub-folder based on the category name you specified which doubles up as a label in the Creation list.

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Inside of that sub-folder, Primitive Maker created a number of .ms files which are actually plugins that store mesh object information.

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If you were to open any of these files in a text editor, you can see how it is storing information related to its structure,

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from object name, category, vertex positions and Face IDs, among others.

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Since these script files are actual plugins, all you need to do to make them permanent is to store them where they can auto-load.

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Select all .ms files you created in that folder and copy them to memory.

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Go to your 3ds Max installation folder, usually under Program Files > Autodesk > 3ds Max 2014 in this case, and go to the plugins sub-folder.

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Paste the UD primitives there. Any plugin in this folder will load at launch time.

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Restart 3ds Max and verify that you indeed have access to the new primitives.

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Create a few to see that they indeed react as designed.

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What you do need to remember though is that those scene primitives are dependent on the plugins you stored in the 3ds Max install directory.

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This means that trying to open this scene on a different system that doesn't have the .ms files will result in an error.

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So you either need to transfer the .ms files as well,

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or you need to collapse the primitives to simple mesh objects.

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Open the last city blocks scene you saved to disk or the file named: CityBlocks_UD-link.max you downloaded for this tutorial.

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You can see all the urban design components in place and converted to Mesh objects.

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However, they are not currently parented to the roads infrastructure.

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You need those links in place if you are to duplicate the city block later on.

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Linking objects is easy enough to do in 3ds Max but you need to be careful not to mess up any existing hierarchies.

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Remember that there is a set hierarchy between light poles, traffic lights and trash cans.

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Therefore, it's safer to process the parenting using the Select from Scene dialog.

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Make sure nothing is selected in the viewport and then press H to access the Select from Scene dialog.

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In the Select menu, make sure the Select Children option is NOT enabled

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Click and drag to select all objects starting with the UDC prefix.

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If you're wondering why you are not using the Find box as you did before, that's because the Find box selects all objects in a hierarchy.

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That would have included objects like traffic lights, flaps, and trash cans.

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Selecting them as you did with a click and drag only selects the topmost parents, which is what you need in this case.

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The fact that they are sharing the same prefix still makes them easy enough to select in the dialog.

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Click OK to confirm the selection, and then use the Link tool to link them to the roads infrastructure.

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From that point on, you have a hierarchy that you can work with, and that you can easily duplicate.

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Selecting the whole city block is as easy as double-clicking any part of the road works.

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This wraps up the second installment of this tutorial, but you on the other hand still have some work to do.

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You need to repeat what you have learned here and add UD components to the other two city blocks currently in the scene.

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When you are done with that, you will be ready for the third and last installment.

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The third installment, starting with the next movie, deals with creating and placing low polygon buildings to bring the scene to life.

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  • 3ds Max
  • Animation
  • Modeling
  • Scripting
  • 2014
  • Environment
  • Workflow
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