Working with AEC Design Elements

3ds Max includes such features as Foliage, Doors, Windows, Stairs, Railing, and Wall to make exploring three-dimensional design ideas much easier.

This section provides general information about these features. For detailed explanations and procedures, see the topics listed below:







Doors and Windows

3ds Max supplies a number of parametric window and door objects that you can place into wall openings to add realism to an architectural model. These objects let you control details like trim and panel fill in your model.

TipUse Snaps for added precision when adding doors and windows.

When you create a new door or window, you must select four points in the scene that define the size and orientation of the rectangle that will be the door or window. You may find it easier to select these points in a given sequence, depending on your scene and views of the scene.

If you already have a rectangular hole you want to fill, you can still create a door or window to your specifications by using the following procedure.

To create a door or window:

  1. Set up an angled User view so that you can see the bottom and one vertical edge of the opening and its full height.
  2. Set the appropriate object snaps, such as Vertex or Endpoint. This helps make the model more precise.
  3. After clicking Window or Door, choose one of two Creation Methods: Width/Depth/Height or Width/Height/Depth.
  4. Make parameter adjustments to define details.

The width and orientation of the door/window is always defined by the first mouse click and subsequent mouse drag. Depending on the creation method you use, either the height or depth of the object is defined next.

If you have no object snaps set and are working in a Perspective or User Viewport, using the Width/Depth/Height Creation Method creates an upright Door or Window. The Width/Height/Depth Creation Method creates the object as if it were lying on its side.

Allowing Non-vertical Jambs

The Allow Non-vertical Jambs toggle is useful for creating doors or windows that do not fit in a vertical plane, such as a skylight window in a sloping roof. By default, this toggle is off, making the third point in the creation sequence either directly above (Width/Height/Depth) or on the same horizontal plane (Width/Depth/Height) with the second point.

When you turn on Allow Non-vertical Jambs, the third point in the creation sequence falls wherever you choose and the fourth point is added by 3ds Max. Its offset from the plane is determined by the first three points.

Using the Width/Height/Depth Creation Method in Perspective and User viewports with Allow Non-vertical Jambs off can be an efficient way to create doors and windows with Object Snaps. However, it can also be confusing at first. Keep in mind that the third point you define, the Height, is interpreted as a point on the home grid until you indicate a point higher or lower than the grid. If you are using an Object Snap setting, 3ds Max might not know you mean a point off the grid unless you bring the cursor in proximity to a nonplanar point to which it can snap.

Additional Parameters

There are additional parameters specific to each door and window type that control overall dimension parameters, as well as detailed parameters for sub-object components such as mullions, trim, and panels within leaves. See Doors and Windows for more information on these parameters.

Animating Doors and Windows

Certain door and window creation parameters, including the Open parameter, can be animated. See Doors and Windows for more information.

Creating Stairs and Railings

3ds Max contains four types of stair objects: spiral stairs, U-type stairs with an intermediate landing, L-type stairs with a landing at the bend in the stair, and straight stairs with no intermediate landing. A complementary Railing object can be used to create any number of handrail designs that follow along a spline path.

For more information, see Stairs.

The Railing Object

Use the Railing button on the Create panel in the to produce railing objects. Railing components include rails, AEC Extended categoryposts, and fencing. Fencing includes pickets (balusters) or solid-filled material (such as glass or wood strips).

You can create a railing in two ways: specify the orientation and height of the railing, or pick a spline path and apply the railing to that path. The spline path with a railing is called a rail path. Later, if you edit the rail path, the Railing object automatically updates to follow the changes you make. Rail paths can occupy three-dimensional space.

When you create the lower rails, posts, and fencing components of a Railing object, you use a special version of the Spacing Tool to specify the spacing of those components. 3ds Max displays the Spacing Tool dialog for each railing component: Lower Rail, Post Spacing, or Picket Spacing. For more information on the Spacing Tool, see Spacing Tool.

For details on Railing parameters and information on creating a Railing object, see Railing.

Creating Walls

Use the Wall button on the Create panel, in the AEC Extended category, to produce straight-wall objects. A wall object is made up of sub-object segments that you can edit with the Modify panel.

You can:

When you create two wall segments that meet at a corner, 3ds Max removes any duplicate geometry. This “cleaning up” of the corners might involve trimming. 3ds Max cleans up only the first two wall segments of a corner, not other wall segments that might share the corner. 3ds Max does not clean up intersections.

You can edit the segments of a wall using sub-object selection mode on the Modify panel. For example, you can define a wall’s height profile. 3ds Max moves the active grid to the plane of the wall you’re editing. This allows you to snap to the profile vertices in the plane of the wall.

If you move, scale, or rotate the wall object, the linked door and window moves, scales, or rotates along with the wall. If you move the linked door or window along the wall, using the door or window's Local coordinate system and activating Restrict to XY Plane in the Axis Constraints toolbar, the opening will follow. Also, if you change a door or window's overall width and height in the Modify panel, the hole will reflect those changes.

Usage Tips

The following are a few tips for working with wall objects:

  • Use the Top viewport when creating wall objects.
  • Single walls with many windows and doors can slow down snap calculations and movement of the wall object. To speed up insertion and editing, use multiple walls instead of a single wall.
  • You can speed up performance in a scene with many walls, windows, and doors by collapsing them. First save an uncollapsed version for any future parametric changes you might want to make. Then right-click the wall and pick Select Children from the right-click menu. Next use Collapse in the Utility rollout to collapse them all.

For complete information, see Wall.

To create a wall:

  1. On the Create panel, in the AEC Extended category, click Wall.
  2. Use Customize Units Setup to establish precision, and then set the parameters for the Width, Height, and Justification of the wall.
  3. In any viewport, click, release the mouse, drag the wall segment to the length you want and click again.

    This creates a wall segment. You can end the wall or you can continue to create another wall segment.

  4. To complete the wall, right-click, or to add another wall segment, drag the next wall segment to the length you want and click again.

    If you create a room by ending a segment at the end of another segment of the same wall object, 3ds Max displays the Weld Point dialog. This dialog lets you convert the two end vertices into a single vertex, or keep the two end vertices separate.

  5. If you want the wall segments to be welded at a corner (when you move one wall, the other wall stays at the corner), click Yes. Otherwise, click No.
  6. Right-click to complete the wall, or continue to add another wall segment.

To attach separate walls:

  1. Select a wall object.
  2. On the Modify panel, click Attach, and then pick another wall object.

    The two wall objects become part of the same wall object, but are not physically connected.

    Attach stays active, and you can continue clicking wall segments to attach. To stop attaching, click the Attach button or right-click in the active viewport.

    To attach multiple wall objects simultaneously to the selected wall object, click Attach Multiple on the Modify panel to open the Attach Multiple dialog. This works the same as the Select From Scene dialog, except that it shows only wall objects; choose multiple walls to attach, and then click the Attach button.

To connect vertices in a wall:

This method lets you connect two separate wall sections with a new segment.

TipIt is easier to work with wall vertices in wireframe view mode.
  1. Select a wall object that has more than one section. Typically you would use Attach to create such an object.
  2. In the modifier stack, go to the Vertex sub-object level.
  3. Click Connect and point the mouse over an end vertex until the cursor changes to a cross.
  4. Click once over the end vertex.
  5. Move the cursor to another end vertex, and then click to connect the two segments.

To insert a vertex in a wall:

It is easier to work with wall vertices in wireframe view mode.

  1. Select a wall segment.
  2. In the modifier stack, go to the Vertex sub-object level.
  3. Click Insert.

    A highlighted line appears along the bottom of the wall, showing where you can insert vertices.

  4. Click anywhere on the highlighted line to insert a vertex.

    The new vertex is attached to the mouse cursor.

  5. Move the mouse to position the vertex, and then click to place it.

    Now the mouse is attached to one of the new segments.

  6. Move the mouse along the segment and click to add vertices.
  7. Right-click to finish working on this segment. You can now insert vertices in other segments, or right-click again to exit Insert mode.