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Create panel Shapes

Create menu Shapes

A shape is an object made from one or more curved or straight lines. 3ds Max Design includes the following shape types: Splines and Extended Splines and NURBS Curves

Using Shapes

Shapes are 2D and 3D lines and groups of lines that you typically use as components of other objects. Most of the default shapes are made from splines. You use these spline shapes to do the following:

3ds Max Design supplies 11 basic spline shape objects, two types of NURBS curves, and five extended splines. You can quickly create these shapes using mouse or keyboard entry and combine them to form compound shapes. For information about the methods and parameters used to create these shapes, see Splines and Extended Splines .

Creating Shapes

To access the shape-creation tools, go to the Create panel and click (Shapes). You'll find the standard shapes under Splines in the category list, Point Curve and CV Curve under NURBS curves, and WRectangle, Channel, Angle, Tee, and Wide Flange under Extended Splines.

As you add plug-ins, other shape categories might appear in this list.

The Object Type rollout contains the spline creation buttons. You can combine one or more of these spline types into a single shape.

Create Shape from Edges

You can create shapes from edge selections in mesh objects. In Edit/Editable Mesh objects, at the Edge selection level, in the Edit Geometry rollout, is a button called Create Shape from Edges that creates a spline shape based on selected edges. See Editable Mesh (Edge). Similarly, with Editable Poly objects, you can use the Create Shape button at the Edge selection level. See Editable Poly (Edge)

Editable Splines

You can convert a basic spline to an editable spline object. The editable spline has a variety of controls that let you directly manipulate it and its sub-objects. For example, at the Vertex sub-object level you can move vertices or adjust their Bezier handles. Editable splines let you create shapes that are less regular, more free-form than the basic spline options.

When you convert a spline to an editable spline, you lose the ability to adjust or animate its creation parameters.

Renderable Shapes

When you use a shape to create a 3D object by lofting, extruding, or other means, the shape becomes a renderable 3D object. However, you can make a shape render without making it into a 3D object. There are three basic steps to rendering a shape:

  1. On the Rendering rollout of the shape's creation parameters, turn on Enable In Renderer.
  2. Specify the thickness for the spline using the Thickness spinner in the Rendering rollout.

  3. If you plan to assign a mapped material to the spline, turn on Generate Mapping Coords.

When Enable In Renderer is on, the shape is rendered using a circle as a cross section. Mapping coordinates are generated with U mapped once around the perimeter, and V mapped once along the length.

3ds Max Design provides control over renderable shapes; viewports, including wireframe viewports, can display the geometry of renderable shapes. The rendering parameters for shapes appear in their own rollout.

The Steps settings affect the number of cross sections in the renderable shape.

Please observe the following:

Shapes as Planar Objects

A straightforward usage for shapes is 2D cutouts or planar objects. Examples include ground planes, text for signs, and cutout billboards. You create a planar object by applying an Edit Mesh modifier to a closed shape, or by converting it to an editable mesh object.

2D objects

You can also apply an Edit Mesh modifier to a 3D shape (for example, a shape whose vertices have been moved vertically away from the construction plane by different amounts) to create a curved surface. The resulting 3D surface often requires manual editing of faces and edges to smooth surface ridges.

Extruded and Lathed Shapes

You can apply modifiers to a shape to create a 3D object. Two of these modifiers are Extrude and Lathe. Extrude creates a 3D object by adding height to a shape. Lathe creates a 3D object by rotating a shape about an axis.

Initial text shape with extruded shape below

Lathed object with initial shape on right

Lofting Shapes

You create Lofts by combining two or more splines in special ways. Shapes form the lofting path, loft cross-sections, and loft fit curves.

Shapes as Animation Paths

You can use shapes to define the position of an animated object. You create a shape and use it to define a path that some other object follows.

Some possible ways for a shape to control animated position are:

See Also