3ds Max - Introduction to Max Creation Graph (MCG)
This tutorial will introduce you to the Max Creation Graph (MCG). MCG is a visual programming language that enables you to automate your own tools to use with geometry creation, modifiers, and utilities. To illustrate its functionality, we will create a Weld modifier with the MCG tool.
- 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.
In this tutorial,we take a look at a new tool in 3ds Max 2016 named MCG.
MCG stands for Max Creation Graph. It's a new visual programming language that enables you to create your own tools.
This way, you can create mesh tools, modifiers and utilities by connecting nodes together.
Start or reset 3ds Max 2016.
To ensure we are on the same wavelength, Let's synchronize our Units setup.
Make sure your Display Units are set to Generic and that System Units are set to Inches. This is the default setup in 3ds Max.
Accept the changes and exit the dialog when done.
The first hint that you have in fact, a new programming language in 3ds Max 2016 comes from the pull-down menus.
The old MaxScript menu has been renamed Scripting, because it houses the new Max Creation Graph tool.
Open the MCG Editor to take a look at it.
In a way, it should feel quite familiar. Think of it as a cross between the Slate Material Editor and Particle Flow.
On the left side, you have a long list of operators organized in categories.
You can drag any of these operators into the editing area.
When you select an operator, a reference document shows you a short description of what that operator is about.
Connecting node sockets between operators is then pretty straightforward.
Apart from dragging nodes from the Operator list, you can also use more familiar functionality.
Just like in the Slate Material Editor, you can drag out input and output sockets to add more operators to the graph.
Navigation is made as usual with the mouse wheel for pans and zooms, as well as the navigation window on the right.
When adding operators, a search box makes it easy to filter the information you are looking for.
The search box appears when you drag an in-or-out socket,
but it is also present at the top of the Operators' list.
Don't forget to remove the filter when you're done with it.
To remove a filter input, you can delete it manually or click the X button next to it.
You can also get to a search box simply by pressing X on the keyboard.
This is yet another quick way to get to a particular operator that you want to use.
Of course, the difficulty really lies in knowing which operator to use in any given situation.
This comes with experience and like anything else, the more time you spend experimenting with MCG and the easier it gets.
For now and as this is a first step into this new world, you'll use it to create a simple Weld modifier.
To start anew, you can certainly select and delete any nodes you have added.
If you close the MCG Editor, and then reopen it, everything you have built so far is retained.
If you close the editor and choose to open a new one, you'd be starting a new graph from scratch but previous graphs are retained in their own tabs.
Dismiss any graph work you have done so far without saving it, and let's see how you can create a simple Weld modifier.
Since you don't know yet in which category to start, try filtering the data by typing "weld" in the search box.
You'll find a WeldMesh operator in the Geometry TriMesh category. Go ahead and drag it into the work area.
Remove the filter input when done.
The Weldmesh node you added has two inputs and one output sockets, as well as an option to define a function.
The threshold input is to define a distance within which vertices would be welded together.
Try something simple and use a constant. Press X and type "con" in the search box.
Select Constant to add a new node.
Enter a value for it, which is the distance you have in mind, such as 1.0
Be advised that in order to use a float value, in essence a value that can have decimals, you have to type it in.
1.0 means you're entering a float value. Entering 1 alone means you're defining an integer or a whole number.
Connect the constant node to the threshold input. You still need to define the mesh itself.
Since you're planning a new Modifier tool, the mesh itself should come from the underlying geometry at the bottom of the stack.
In essence, that would be the selected object when you add the new modifier.
Drag out the mesh (Trimesh) input and search for a modifier input that is compatible with it.
You'll find one named "Modifier: Trimesh", go ahead and select it.
Now drag the "value (Trimesh)" output socket and search for compatible output solutions.
There are many available outputs to choose from, including geometry, modifier and utility among others.
Since you set up to create a modifier, go ahead and choose that option.
This is it! This is as basic as it gets but you actually just created your first modifier that welds vertices that are within a distance of 1 unit from one another.
The problem of course is that the 1.0 constant is too explicit, and it would be nice to be able to change it.
So instead of a constant, you'll expose a parameter that you can change in the Modifier panel.
Go ahead and delete the Constant node.
To replace it with a Parameter node that you can edit, drag the input socket and search for "param"
You can choose between an integer and a single. Again, an integer represents a whole number.
A single is a float or a value that recognizes decimals. This is the one you need.
You can give it a name, which later translates into a label in the Modify panel.
You can also set minimum and maximum values as well as a default.
There is also a system units option that translates the value into the system unit used in any given project, such as meters or feet.
You're ready to save and test your new modifier.
Choose Save As and save your modifier under the name: "MCG_Weld".
In fact, you can give it any name but this prefix (MCG_) ensures you can easily find it in the Modifier list.
Note also that a new MCG tool is saved by default to your user name folder, under Autodesk > 3ds Max > Max Creation Graph.
Test it out. Create a sphere or a teapot and go to the Modify panel.
You may also want to temporarily enable Edged Faces Mode (F4) to see the object's structure.
Check the Modifier list: currently, the new modifier is nowhere to be seen just yet.
In the MCG window, choose Build > Evaluate or press Ctrl+E. This is just like with MAXScript.
Now the new modifier is available in the Modifier list.
Select it and try varying the Dist. Threshold value to see vertices coming together.
Congratulations! You have created your first graph.
Now you can try other more complex tools on your own or by following other MCG tutorials on this channel.